April 19th – Sparta, TN
First Place Team Division!!
Nine members of the Hub City Bicycle – Lift Center Racing team competed in this Saturday’s Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race and Time Trial in Sparta, TN. In the overall team rankings the team from Jackson placed 1st out of a total of 42 teams from across Tennessee and neighboring states. Over all categories and age groups, members of the Hub City Bicycle – Lift Center Racing team had 3 first place, 3 second place, and 3 third place podium finishes. Riche Slagle 2nd Cat2TT/Georg Pingen 1st Cat4TT/Patrick Andre 3rd Cat4RR & 2nd Cat4TT/Maters 40-49 TT Joe Lambert 2nd and Randy McKinnon 3rd/Masters 50-59 TT Tim Taylor 3rd/Masters60+ Tom Gee 1st in RR & TT!
The team achieved a total of 283 team points for the first place team award, followed by “I Am Racing” from Nashville with 223 and “Village Volkswagen Cycling Team” from Chattanooga with 220 team points. The race was well organized by the Aaron Shafer Memorial Foundation, supporting the cause of “preventing childhood obesity through cycling”.
We traveled to Sparta TN for the Aaron Shafer Memorial RR and TT. I love Sparta, it’s a neat little town and the people go out of their way to welcome cyclists. Plus there is a wide open downtown finish for the RR and TT.
I, along with teammates, Tim Taylor, Randy McKinnon, Tom Gee, and Bobby Haynes lined up at 930 for the road race. A 40 mile route with rolling hills and a significant 1.6 mile climb. I was towards the front as we rolled out into a head wind. Coming out of town, the road took a sharp right downhill then back left and I rolled off the front to test the waters so to speak. I got on it and to see if the pack would let me slip away off the front. No way, they slowly reeled me back. I fell in with a pace line and started to recover. At one point early on a rider from TRRC attempted a solo break. I went with him and held his wheel. He actually timed it wrong. There as a pretty good little hill that was coming up and with him being a bigger rider I knew there was no way we could stay away. As we neared the top I heard the wheels of the pack, we were caught again. Again I fell in line and recovered. As we topped another roller Bobby Haynes attempted to get away. He got a good break and since I was up front at the time I eased off the tempo hoping he could get over the next hill before the pack caught onto what was happening. Not having it the pack caught him too. There was no getting away before the climb.
Tim Taylor moved up front and drove the pace for several miles. He and I stayed up front until the turn onto the climb. We both were sitting in good position as we made the turn and he picked up the pace. I held my position as we made our way to the steep section. We were traveling around 18 to 20 mph, so I’m sure guys in the back were hurting. As we rounded a corner a State Trooper had a large tractor stopped on the right side of the road. Everyone freaked, but Tim attacked as everyone negotiated their way around the tractor. That attacked really gassed me as well as the others as we were nearing the steep section. I wanted to cuss him but I had no breath to do it with. We hit the steep section and I could not hang on, I got out of the saddle as I could see the end of the climb and gave it everything I had hoping to stay close enough to chase the main group. Tim was in that group. They went over and I struggled to get over the top. Once over the top I got on it, big ring with the 11 cog and started my chase. There were a couple of riders from the VW team that were coasting, everyone one was yelling because on this course if you don’t catch back up before the next turn it was over. At one point we had the front group within 10 seconds and it was like everyone would stop working. Tom Gee came up and pulled and I looked over to my left and there was no one. I couldn’t believe it. I pulled over and went to the front. I drove it a 30+ for as long as I could still, no consistency from the group. Randy showed up and gave chase with us and a few other riders started to get on board and help but still we weren’t closing the gap and it seemed they were getting further away. We came up to the turn and I knew it was too late. We did have the group in sight and a small group started to form up again. Randy took off at this time and with another rider to give chase. I nailed it to catch his wheel so I could help. Again the group was not getting any closer. We worked our legs off with a few other experienced riders and still wasn’t closing the gap. Once I realized we weren’t going to close it I settled down and got into a grove with Randy and the other riders and we worked a paceline. We made the last turn back onto the main road and started back towards the down town area. I stayed about 6 wheels back and started watching the two VW guys who were doing absolutely no work. Chris Daffin, from SVMIC, went to the front and I got on his wheel. He drove the pace to around 27 mph to within a kilometer of the finish. He was starting to fade so I went. I knew the finish and I knew if I could keep the pace high on the short climb we may have a chance at the sprint and split up the pack even more. I climbed out of the saddle and got over the hill and could see the finish line. I got back down and concentrated on spinning. I could hear the paceline coming up my left side with 200 meters to go. I recovered a bit longer as three riders got ahead but my path was open, oh well, here I go! I stood up and got on it, with a clear path, I was able to gain back a couple of positions, as Randy finished ahead of me. I had no idea where we finished. Thanks to the officials they got the results up pretty quick. Randy 14th overall and I was 15th, 7th and 8th in the 40 group. We were able to hold off the VW guys who refused to work. Happy with that. Tom Gee finished 20th overall and pulled out a 1st place in the 60+. Tim Taylor finished 8th overall with a 4th place in the 50+. Bobby had an incident with his bike and got a DNF. Over all it was a fun race.
That afternoon was the 7 mile TT. I have raced this course before and knew it well. Randy and I reconned the course prior to the start, to loosen up the legs and get familiar with the course. I got on the starting ramp and and went off at 2:25. I quartered the course into four sections. The first section was into a head wind. The steep hill helped to keep my speed up and I used the terrain and the road to hide from the wind as much as possible. After the turn I hit the first steep climb, out of the saddle. I stayed on it over the crest and got into my 53×11 and turned the peddles slowly picking my speed back up. There was a Jeep up ahead and I was closing in on him fast. My only option was to go around him. I hoped the road was clear. I took a chance and got around him as quickly as possible and flew through the next couple of rollers and then into the last turn. I picked it up because it was straight into the wind here. Around the turnaround as quickly as possible and back onto the course. The wind was so strong that it felt as if I had a hand on my back pushing me. There was a long climb coming up and I changed to my small chain ring and settled in to spin it out. I kept my cadence high and made it to the top where I could see the roof of the large barn at the turn. I got on it again and down the hill through the turn 35+ mph. On the fourth quarter of the course it was all out at this point. The good thing is I had a tailwind that was helping but I realized everyone else did too. I pushed harder nearing the climb. Up and around another rider, I hit the top of the hill about gassed. I kept spinning as I near the finish giving it one last burst of energy to the point of about throwing up! That effort got me 2nd in my age group and 4th overall. A top five finish, not bad.by Joseph Lambert