UTAC Velo is an official sponsor of PROBIKEWRENCH.COM. UTAC Velo is a group of cycling friends who participate in the annual AIDS/LifeCycle Ride, which travels from San Francisco to Los Angeles, CA (545 miles) over the course of 7 days (June 6-12). To date they have raised upwards of $100,000 for this year’s event.
Some of you may be asking, “What does UTAC mean?” UTAC means, “Until There’s A Cure.” My fellow VeloReviews.com Podcaster/friend, Jen Moore, is a team captain for UTAC Velo, and she does an amazing job with fundraisers, training rides, and being wholeheartedly committed to doing her part in finding a cure for AIDS. There’s not too many people I know that are as completely sold out to a cause they believe in like Jen, and I’m proud to be involved.
If you’ve got a few extra bucks floating around and would like to make a last minute donation (the ride is next week), please visit the UTAC Velo Sponsorship page and donate to help beat this disease.
On Sunday morning after Twilight, we departed the Hotel Indigo in Athens en route to Roswell, GA, for the Roswell Criterium. After an hour fifteen in the caravan with the rest of Mavic‘s volunteer mechanic crew, we made it to the race course. It was easy to find. The traditional race course is only half an hour from my house and I had raced the criterium for the past 5 years. You could say I was kind of familiar with the area…
We set up the pit area alongside Roswell Bicycles and I visited with my boss, Kevin, and one of my co-workers, Doug, who had set up the Out Spokin’ Sprinter Van and tent for the tailgate party. They had the gas grill out and were already into “party mode” after their morning ride around Roswell/Alpharetta.
At the persuasion of most of my Mavic buddies, I signed up for the Cat 4/5 race. I wasn’t going to do it unless I had enough cash in my pocket to sign up. Race day entry was $50 (which is ridiculous, in my opinion), and I had $53… so I was in. I worked a few races, then warmed up for my 1:55pm start.
If you’ve never raced Roswell, then you don’t know about the “race to the start.” Staging area for this race is beyond the 250m mark behind the finish line. Once the gate opens, you have to get clipped in and make a mad dash to the start to get the best position possible. It’s pretty crazy, but necessary to get in the first two rows, or you’ll have crappy starting position, and in most cases, a crappy race. Myself and my two teammates, Lonnie “The Legend” and Baxter, had a great “race to the start” and were all positioned in the second and third row.
My plan for the race was to conserve as much energy as possible, then see where I was at for the finish. There is never usually a breakaway in the 4/5 race… that’s just how it is. If there was a move, I wanted to be near the front to cover it and go with it, if need be. I also wanted to keep an eye on my computer. In a 40 minute criterium, the first 10 minutes is crucial. If you can make it through the first 10 minutes, you can settle and hang. If you’re in distress before that point, you should probably pack it up and call it a day.
I had a really good race. I avoided crashes, stayed near the front, and didn’t take ANY pulls. I downshifted before turns so I could pedal through without getting out of the saddle and expending any extra energy. I had no idea where my teammates were. I didn’t see them for quite some time. I think we lapped Lonnie at one point. He got stuck behind some crashes and got separated from the main field. I was consistently in the top ten throughout the race, so I figured a good sprint finish was in the cards.
I had good position for the field sprint, so I went for it. I probably took off a little too early. Roswell’s finishing straight is deceptively long, and I was running a 12t small cog. If I had an 11t (my own stupid fault), I may have had enough gear to finish in the money. I still managed ninth place. Top ten is nothing to complain about.
After the race, it was back to work with Mavic. We worked through the rest of the day’s racing, then packed up and headed to the house. Lots of little sidebar stories throughout the weekend. Ran into a lot of old friends and racers I have wrenched for in the past. Made some new acquaintances, too. All in all a good weekend of racing and fun.
It’s a bit late, but as they say… “better late than never.”
Last weekend, Georgia hosted two of the biggest criteriums on the racing calendar, the Athens Twilight Criterium and the Historic Roswell Criterium. These two races are very well-attended by pro road teams, and amateurs alike, primarily due to their constant spot on the schedule year after year, but also highlighted by their inclusion in the USA Crits series and the Georgia Cycling Grand Prix series.
I was delighted to find out that Mavic was going to be in attendance, offering neutral race support services for both events. Having been a part of their volunteer mechanic program since 2005, I was thrilled to get the opportunity to do some actual “PROBIKEWRENCH-ing” again.
There’s nothing like working the wheel pit at Twilight… it’s always so amazing, year after year, regardless of the racers in attendance or any other conditions. It’s always pretty magical. For instance, back in 2005, I worked Twilight with the Cane Creek neutral support program. I got the chance to push National and Olympic Champion Marty Nothstein back into the race after a crash. He didn’t win, but played a part in the victory of his teammate Vassili Davidenko that evening.
A few days before departing for Athens, I got a call from Team Kenda p/b GearGrinder mechanic, John Columbus. Evidently, some of the team’s gear needed some work before the weekend, and it was all being kept pretty close to where I live. I made a trip out to Cumming to pick up three bikes and sixteen wheels to prep and deliver to Athens.
After gluing tubulars and tuning some wheels and bikes (and pretending my garage was PROBIKEWRENCH Service Course for a few days), myself and the gear got delivered to Athens, courtesy of my wonderful wife, Niki. I met with the Mavic guys for dinner on Friday, then we crashed at Hotel Indigo in Athens, to get ready for an interesting weekend.
Amateur racing was first on Saturday. We arrived on course a little before 8am, already getting wet from the steady rain that hung around for the remainder of the day. After all the amateur racing had been done, we moved downtown to Broad Street to prepare for the evening racing on the classic downtown Twilight course.
As you’d expect, the rain played a big part in most of the racing. The women’s race went off without a hitch, except when the race winner decided to celebrate her win, pushing two other riders into the barriers about 50 meters beyond the finish line. One girl hit the ground pretty bad, so myself and two other Mavic crew members, Collin and Pete, ran to assist. We handled the situation until the girl’s dad arrived and she was able to collect herself and get back up and on the bike.
The men’s race was a different story. Athens always has a HUGE field, and if it’s gonna get hairy, the Men’s Pro Race is where it’s going to happen. Around about Lap 5 or so, the wheel pit was covered up with riders with flat tires or getting caught behind a crash. We were switching wheels, left and right, and more riders kept coming…
The business in the pit kept coming. If it wasn’t a flat from an unseen pothole, it was more crashing. At one point, we had to jump back in the truck and prep some more wheels to change because we were running out. When a rider would pull out of the race, we’d grab the wheels he got from us and use them on someone else. Non-stop… all night long, just like the rain.
I didn’t get a lot of pictures from Twilight, primarily because we were busy working. The men’s race was over around 11:35pm, which made for a ridiculously long day. We estimated that we did around 100 or more wheel changes for that hour and a half criterium. For me, Athens did it again… lived up to my billing that there’s not another race like it.
I finally got back to the hotel around 1am. My feet were wrinkled and pruny from the wet socks and shoes I had on since 7am the previous morning… so bad that they hurt. The day wasn’t over yet. I still had to prepare for Roswell by drying out my shoes and packing my gear to leave the next morning. I also had to shave my legs. I had thoughts that I may actually race my bike in Roswell… but I’ll talk about that in my next post.
“I am saddened to confirm what many have heard. Our friend Cliff Davis died early this morning. I’m told that he collapsed early in the Tour de Cashiers ride of what appeared to be cardiac arrest and could not be revived. Although he was riding the tandem with Lisa at the time, Lisa was not injured. As I hear more details, I will pass them along. If you get information about arrangements or hear of any way we can assist the family, please contact me. I will spread the word among the many people who rode with Clif and valued his friendship. And the many cyclists who love Lisa and will stand by her during this difficult time. Their two daughters, Molly and Anna, and Lisa’s parents are either with Lisa or on their way. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Keep Lisa and the kids in your prayers. Cliff was a great guy, and will be sorely missed by those he cycled with and anyone whose path he crossed. We lost a good one today.
I had the privilege of hosting Matt and Kevin from Wheeltags for an impromptu training camp in Canton, GA, a few weeks ago. They wanted to escape the near horizontal elevation of Carmel, Indiana, and try out some hills for a few days. I was happy to oblige.
The first few days, I gave them some good rides to do on their own, allowing them to explore some of my favorite routes in northern Cherokee County. On the Monday of their trip, I took them up to Dahlonega/Lumpkin County to check out the “Front Three” Gaps (Neel Gap, Wolf Pen Gap, and Woody Gap).
For some flat-landers, they didn’t do half bad on the hills I threw at them. They also had some pretty sick examples of Wheeltags on their personal rides (gotta love eye candy!).
We had a great couple of days of riding down here. Next time, I get to make the trip north to visit them for some good-old flatland riding. Hopefully, they won’t put me in the “hurt locker…” Thanks for the visit, guys. See you soon!