Tag Archives: South Carolina Road Racing Championship

At least I didn’t break my shifter this time

It is late on Saturday night as I write this.  I am tired and sore.  So, let’s just cut to the chase and get to the “good” stuff.

Today was the South Carolina Road Race Championships held in Fork Shoals.  It was about a 13 mile loop of rolling hills.  My Cat. 4 teammates and I would be doing three laps with about 60 other riders.

I was kind of nervous because I really wanted to do well in this race.  Matt Tebbetts has been really strong as well.  So, I was hoping to be there at the end to lead him out and finish strong – or if he didn’t have it, go for the win myself.  Finally, I was going to get to race something other than a criterium!

We rolled out with the POA Cycling Team toward the back.  This wasn’t so bad because we knew we had plenty of time to work our way to the front.  The key was to time things properly.

The first lap seemed so slooooooow.  I think I will invest in a brake pad company.  I’m not sure what it was but riders would be on the front going downhill and be braking!  I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let it roll.  It wasn’t like they were having to work while they were coasting.

Nothing really changed during that lap.  I did move up a bit in the beginning.  However, there was a wreck that happened when a rider got moved over to the edge of the asphalt and his wheel slid off the edge causing him to go down.  Just as I was passing him, a rider in a Clemson kit t-boned him right in the side. Ouch!

Well, that caused the referee to neutralize the field.  It also caused me to get shuffled back and I lost all the ground I had gained to that point.  Finally, after an announcement about the yellow line, we were underway once again.

It was starting to get frustrating because I kept getting behind guys who would not close up gaps.  I would be stuck behind them (there were just a few, but it seemed like I always ended up near them).  No way was I wanting to be back here for the final lap!

The final lap did come and I moved quickly to the top ten or so.  No more Mr. Nice Guy – I was going to hold my position and not get shuffled back.  My teammate Billy made it easy by going off the front and stretching things out just a bit.  This allowed me to sit back a few wheels from the front.

When Billy came back, a GlobalBike rider went off the front and formed a good gap.  I picked up the pace just a little and started to slowly pull the field back toward the rider.  Matt kept holding me back.  He was hoping we could stay together.

Billy attacked once again and I tried to move with him.  However, I was blocked and it took me some time to work free.  Meanwhile, my teammate Luis came through with a hope to stretch things out with a counter attack.  Before you knew it, we were in a pace line finally picking up some speed.

On the new climb that was added about halfway through the course, I got on the wheel of Kelly Lowry and followed him up.  This put us in the top four riders at that point.  It wasn’t my goal to break away on the hill.  I was just wanting to make sure there wasn’t a break that I wasn’t there to cover.  It didn’t happen, so we got engulfed by the field.

Only once after that did I slip out of the top 10.  I did get boxed in a bit, but finally worked free to be there at the turn with 1 K to go.  Things looked good!  I felt good!  The team was there and the yellow line was lifted on this narrow road, so we should be able to do something.

I held my pace knowing that often riders attack to hard to early on this climb and then don’t have it for the sprint at the end.  My plan was to help lead our team up to about 200 meters with a measured pace.  We could let it all hang out after that.

With 500 meters to go, I realized that the sprint might start happening a bit sooner.  However, I picked up the pace just slightly so I would be able to react if needed.  Matt was on my wheel and Billy was behind him.

Just about that time a rider came careening into my left side from slightly behind.  My first reaction was to lean against the blow.  However, he was coming with such force that it forced me right.  I then thought I could steer right away from him.  However, it must have been that something on his bike stuck to mine.

All I remember at that point was being thrown violently to the ground.  The first thing I thought about was my shifters!  Then I thought about my hip.  I knew immediately I had a bad case of road rash.

Where was my bike?  I looked up to see the bike that hit me wedged into the frame of my bike.  My bike was on it’s wheels at that point being held up by the other bike.  My shades lay broken at my feet.  I let out a good “Dog gone it!” and then tried to get back on my bike.

Billy was there trying to calm me down.  Those who ride and race with me know I don’t lose my temper that often.  This time I was angry!  Well, I was certainly going to finish the race.  So, we messed around with the chain and I limped it across the finish line.

It was there I learned the extent of the damage.  Cracked frame.  Cracked helmet.  Road rash on bruised shoulder and bruised hip.

Matt also went down and cracked his frame.  I’m hoping his wrist is okay since it was giving him some pain at the time.  Billy didn’t go down, but was basically taken out of contention and he was kind enough to come back and help us out.

Later this evening I learned from Wade Greene with GlobalBike that what happened was the guy who hit me first hit a GlobalBike rider with enough force to cause that rider’s seat to get twisted.  Wade’s teammate stayed up, but that is what must have sent the rider so violently into my side.

I’m really pretty sure that Matt could have made it into the money (maybe me as well?)  I certainly felt that with the legs I had and the position we were holding that I could have nailed down a top ten.  Instead, I rolled across the finish in 47th.

The silver lining?  I learned what great teammates and friends I have.  I’ll lick my wounds and see what I can do about getting back on the bike.  I know there will be people there to help me.

Well, I wasn’t the winner

I arrived in Pelzer around one o’clock.  It was nice to get there early so I wasn’t rushing around trying to get ready.  Turns out I had more time that I thought I would.  Our race didn’t get started until more that 30 minutes after the announced start time.

It was soooooo hot.  I had started warming up after checking in and then learned that the race was delayed.  I didn’t want to keep riding around in that heat, so I went and found some shade and tried to stay as cool as I could.  Finally, they called us to the line.

We started off in the neutral zone.  I heard Jimmy Helms yell, “Ride smart, Jonathan!”  I was determined to do exactly that.

I started right up on the start line.  It took nearly the entire neutral zone to get my left shoe clicked in.  I’ve been having some trouble with it lately.  Thankfully, I got hooked up before we started picking up the pace.

The first lap was pretty uneventful.  I kept making sure I stayed in the top ten.  I would do this by riding up near the front until I noticed the front riders starting to get antsy.  I would then allow a rider or two to come around me and I would ride their wheels up past the guys falling off the front.  Doing this, I avoided doing any pulling on the first lap.

I came across the line in fifth place as we started our second and final lap.  Only about 37 minutes to go.  The pace picked up and I noticed some much stronger riders moving to the front.  I couldn’t play my little game as much this time.  I just tried to cover any large number of riders trying to break away.

It wasn’t a large group that ultimately messed me up.  I was near the front and watched two riders go off the front.  One guy looked like he was a pretty fit.  The other guy, to put it simply, was a pretty stocky, older looking guy.  It has been kind of fun riding around guys I knew.  I have ridden with them enough to know who I could let go or who I needed to watch.  However, when it came to these guys, I was in the dark.

I was at the mercy of the field at this point.  I kept myself from trying to chase them down.  I sat in the field watching the two riders sometimes 1000 meters in front of us.  They never really got out of our view, but we never seemed to bring them back.  They were doing a good job.

On the rolling hills of the back side of the course, I thought for sure we would catch them.  Indeed, the gap shrank, but again, we could not come up to them.  We simply could not get organized.  A couple of times a pace line formed, but it went away just as soon as it formed.  It was like everyone was wanting to race for third.

What I was thinking was, “I will not go out there and then have people tell me, ‘There you go again!'”  I wanted to go, but knew I would probably regret it.  I kept trying to go with riders that I thought would try to close the gap, but again and again they just fell apart.

On Dunklin we caught the Cat 5 -34 riders.  They neutralized their race and allowed us to go around.  This allowed the two breakaway riders to get even more distance on us.  We turned right and me and two other riders began to chase in more earnest.  We didn’t have much more time before it would be the moment to turn onto the final climb to the finish.

Just as we neared the left turn to the finish we really started to close.  It was a climb and I saw them start to push it.  I had the choice to try to climb up to them or ease up.  I made the decision to ease up.  At that point with the heat, I was afraid that I would use my last bullet and then end up losing multiple spots.  I still held out hope that the two riders ahead would crack.

I eased up and three riders went around me.  I settled in behind them and set my pace.  There is a spot on the climb when you go over a hill and up ahead you see the 500 meter sign.  I was in a small group at that point.  I moved around them and when I hit the 500 meter mark I started to drop the riders who had passed me earlier.  At three hundred meters I could see the two riders up front and I again picked up the pace.

At two hundred meters I went into a full sprint.  It was actually kind of fun to watch the nearest guy to me just deflate when I started to sprint. I was shocked at the power I still had in my legs.  When I launched I left the other guys in the dust, BUT I didn’t catch the guys ahead of me.  They did a great job and got what they deserved.

Talking with the winner afterwards, I learned he was a tri-athlete and time trials racer for the last eight years.  That would explain his ability to go off the front and stay there.  The other guy was just stout!  I don’t mean in stature, but in endurance.  He did a great job staying with the winner.  The two of them worked as a team while the field couldn’t do anything to counter them.  Good job, guys.  You deserved it.

So, that was that… I got a third place finish trying to chase down the winners.  Of course, I second guess myself as to what I could have done better.  What if I had gone with them when they first separated?  What if I had made the decision to chase them on that final climb before the finish?

I really, really wanted to win that race.  Well, there is always the BMW Summer Series… and the downtown race in October.

Thanks for reading.