This year’s Johnson City Omnium included great weather and even greater racing. The weekend began Saturday morning with a grueling road race to the top of Roan Mountain (aka the Roan Groan). For the Masters 35/45+ and Cat 3 Racers this meant 55 miles with a total elevation gain of 5443′. The Masters 40/50/60 cyclists raced 30 miles with a total climb of 4040′.
Vi Lim and Tim Taylor competed in the 40/50/60 Masters race and finished 6th and 10th, respectively, in their age group. Here’s Tim’s race report:
We went east for a weekend of racing that consisted of road race, time trial, and criterium. Vi and I knew that the climb up Roan Mountain was going to hurt and we probably lose out some places to the climbers. Our bikes gearing was important. We were going to be using our 39 x 26–32 for the majority of the long slog that would take us about 45-60 minutes to ascend.
Field of 30 riders of 40/50/60 started out of Johnson City kind of bland pace. A few of us rotating at the front until we got to the first climb. The pace picked up as we approach the top and rolled over, nothing extreme. A few more miles of rotation and consistent pace and we were at the base of the Roan Mountain. The temperature was perfect for a hard push up the slope and our pace quickens as we got the first pitch. Vi went with a group of about 12 and we all stayed together for 3-4 miles, I watched slowly disappear, until 10 broke away leaving Vi and 1 other behind. The two of us suffered together until about 3 miles to go when Vi took off. With 1k to go Vi passed one rider before crossing the finish line for 6th place and I was 10th the Masters 50+. As always you finish at the top of the mountain soaking wet and then freeze because of the lower temperatures and wind. Vi and I stuffed cardboard in our jerseys waiting on the support vehicles to make it to the top. After a hair raising descent and a ride back to the hotel we had a couple hours to recover and get our bikes ready for the 3.1 mile TT.
Justin Lowe and Terry Boxx represented Lift Center Racing in the Masters 35+ race, finishing 6th and 9th in their age group.
In the Cat 3 race were Georg Pingen, David Piercey and newcomer Gabriel Rojas (a 16-year-old from Costa Rica, part of the Global Force Junior Development Team, spending the summer with the Lowe’s). Georg rode off the front at the beginning of the race and was joined by 4 others (dwindled to 3 due to a flat tire) for a 50 mile breakaway. They were able to establish a gap that grew to almost 10 minutes until the foursome reached the bottom of the climb. Ben Meer from Ohio separated off the front on the climb and finished first, followed 3 minutes later by Georg and Chase Peeler (Los Locos) who finished side by side, with Georg giving the team a 2nd place finish. Gabriel stayed with the main field until the base of the climb and then rode off the front of the field, giving him a 5th place finish. Unfortunately David flatted about 20 miles in and had to take a DNF.
Saturday afternoon meant the Tupelo Honey Time Trial, a 3.2 mile event with a 1 mile climb. Juniors Zach Lowe and Jake Pingen started out the event. Zach finished the route with a time of 10:44, 4th in the 9-14 year old age group. Jake finished in 10:00, enough for 3rd in the 9-14 year old age group.
For the Masters 40/50/60 Tim Taylor finished 2nd in his age group with a time of 8:27. Vi Lim finished 5th in his age group with a time of 9:02. Here’s Tim’s race report:
Both Vi and I time trial’d on our road bikes with aerobars. I switched out my big chainring for a 55 tooth knowing the down hill we could use the speed. The 3.1 mile race in straight up over a 1 mile climb and then a slight downhill and uphill grade. The goal to win is take it to the limit from the start and hold it. Vi was 5th place and I was 2nd place.
For the Masters 35+ Justin Lowe finished 4th in his age group with a time of 8:19 and Terry Boxx finished 7th with a time of 8:31.
In Cat 3 the Lift Center riders dominated with Georg Pingen taking first and David Piercey taking second, with only one second separating the two. They finished with times of 7:37 and 7:38. Gabriel Rojas finished 9th with a time of 8:08 (Eddy Merckx style).
The final event for the weekend was the Crit in downtown Johnson City. The juniors started off the day at 8:00 a.m., with Gabriel Rojas, Zach Lowe and Jake Pingen representing the team. As is typical for Juniors Races with the big age and experience gap, the field split up early with Gabriel and Arvin Jansen taking a big early lead. Those two rode together at the front, taking turns pulling, until Gabriel was able to ride away from Arvin for the victory. Zach and Jake worked together further back in the field and took 2nd and 3rd in the 9-14 year old category (and 1st and 2nd in the 9-12’s).
Next up were the Masters 40/50/60. Tim Taylor was in a couple of break attempts throughout the race and won a prime. He finished with the field in 5th place. Vi Lim was gapped during the middle of the race. He tried to bridge back up but eventually finished the race with 2 other riders off the back. Here’s Tim’s race report:
Sunday was our 35 minute crit in Johnson City on a 8 corner course. This has a couple narrow, alley type streets that stretch the pack out and you can drop people out the back quickly. The race started out fast and they gave a $50 prem after a few laps. I got the prem and tried to continue into a break away of 2, but got caught, another guy jump and he was gone. I tried a couple more attacks trying to get away. Toward the end I was with one other guy for the last 4 laps and we were caught at the finish line. 4th for me and 7th for Vi.
Omnium over all win, Tim 1st and Vi 3rd.
The next race with Lift cyclists was the Cat 3 race. Georg Pingen, David Piercey and Gabriel Rojas again represented the team. The team worked together a few times to try to get Gabriel in a break. They will never know whether that strategy would have worked because Gabriel went down in one of the tight corners after making contact with another rider. Despite sustaining some painful road rash to his arm and leg, he jumped back on the bike, chased down the field in about 4 laps and finished in 11th place. The main field successfully countered all break attempts and finished together, with Georg out-sprinting them at the end for the victory. David finished with the main field, as well, in 12th place.
Right after the Cat 3 race was the Masters 35/45+ Crit. Georg Pingen joined Justin Lowe and Terry Boxx for this one. Justin tried a one-man break fairly early in the race, but after a couple of laps the field was able to pull him back. Georg and Justin tried several other attacks, but the field stayed mostly together, although strung out. There was a sprint finish with Georg taking 5th and Justin 11th. Terry wasn’t feeling his best and ended his race early.
The final race with Lift competitors was the much-anticipated Kids’ Race. Eight-year-old Jonah Pingen and 4-year-old John Luke Pingen represented Lift in the one lap fun race. Jonah sprinted for victory, while making his mother very nervous because he was going so hard that his bike was wobbling all over the course. And John Luke made it all the way around the course on his Strider, accompanied by friend and teammate Zach Lowe, before coming to a complete stop on the finish line. He was proud of himself but was very upset that the race announcer called him a “little guy” when he came to the finish. After all, he is a “big boy.”
Cat 3: Georg Pingen – 1st, Gabriel Rojas – 6th
Masters 35+: Justin Lowe – 6th
Masters 50+: Tim Taylor – 1st, Vi Lim – 3rd