(You will want to watch this video below with the volume turned down – I love my fanatical wife! This is me winning the 2012 Alabama State Road Race Championships (Pro/1/2) today at the Tour de Tuscloosa)
Quick thanks and shout out
Thanks to all my teammates today. We ended up winning the state championship medals in 3 categories – me (Cat 1), Justin Bynum (Cat 2), Kevin Paulik (Cat 3). Kudos also to two other riders from Birmingham taking the Cat 4 (Jason Kellen) and Cat 5 (Boris Simmonds) medals.
The Pro/1/2 race had about 60 in it with lots of strong teams. I attacked hard when we reached the bottom of the first hill on the course about 1/2 mile into the race. Stuart Lamp (Nashvillecyclist.com) came with me initially but then ended up pulling a hamstring before the top. Jan Kolar (HomeSmart/L5flyers) bridged up to me across the top and the two of us drilled it. Behind, a group of six had formed and caught us shortly before Sam Sutton Hill (short and steep). Our group of 8 worked moderately well together, and we were flying! But some riders were struggling and I felt our pace was going to drop soon so I attacked again on the third lap at the same spot where I had attacked at the beginning of the race and again only Jan Kolar was able to respond and come with me. He asked me “Are you sure you want to do this?”. I looked back and saw Andy Crater coming across and said “Yes, let’s go!”. Andy joined us and we were rolling hard with Emile Abraham leading the chase behind. We hit the Sam Sutton Hill with maybe a 5-10 second gap – which Emile crossed solo to us like the hill wasn’t even there. Once it was the four of us, we were gone.
We worked well together, and it was clear that a very interesting race was playing out behind us based on the time splits we were getting from the moto official. It’s the first time I’ve heard “3 minutes to the field – it’s crazy back there” as a time split. This was after we had gotten a time split of 2’30” to a break of thirteen, 3’30” to the field. Half a lap later, we got the “it’s crazy back there” time split. Then we didn’t get any time splits for about 2 full laps (20 miles) until we got a time split of 3’30” to the field. We thought everything was great until maybe half a lap later when we got a time split of 2’30” to a chase group of six. Then a lap later we got a time split of 1’30” with a little more than one lap to go. By the top of the feedzone hill we had gotten a few more time splits (apparently the moto ref was bouncing back and forth b/t our group and the chase) and the gap went very quickly from 1’30” to 1’00” to 50″ to 45″. We were in full blown panic mode at this point and drilled it hard pretty much the entire last lap.
Andy Crater came into the last corner first and attacked hard on the short steep kicker section of the feedzone hill. Emile and I quickly chased up to him with Jan coming off our group. Andy sat up as soon as he was caught and neither Emile or I came around so our pace dropped to 14mph. Jan crawled his way back up to us. I was afraid of the chase group catching us at that pace, so I went back to the front and ramped the pace back up to 21mph across the false flat in the middle of the hill. As we got closer to the top, I knew that I had to attack hard on the hill because Andy and Emile would easily beat me in the flat sprint across the top. So right as we reached the steepest part of the climb when I was still on the front and our pace had dropped back down to 14mph again, I jumped hard from the front and immediately got back up to 21mph and kept it above 20mph for nearly the rest of the hill. This was enough to get a big enough gap to ease up at the 250 meter to go sign and come into the finish line solo. With my wife and kids there cheering frantically, it has to be one of the sweetest wins in nearly 20 years of bike racing.
Behind us, I found out after the race that it was Joey Rosskopf and Frank Travieso driving the six man group also containing my teammate Pat Allison. Pat ended up fourth in that group for 8th in the race, which was the 3rd place Alabama rider (bronze medal). My teammate, Justin Bynum, finished in the second chase group for 17th in the race, but he was the 1st place Alabama Cat 2 rider to take the gold medal.
After our race was over, my other teammate Kevin Pawlik took the gold medal in the Cat 3 race.
What a great day for Tria Cycling p/b DonohooAuto.com and Infinity Med-i-spa!