Sunday, October 21, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tria Delivers a One-Two Punch

The 2007 Tour de Cullman got off to a great start. We had 75 riders which included some old faces and alot of new riders. Conditions could not have been better, the temperature in the low 70s with slight head wind heading out which meant a tailwind on the final climb up Skyball and the ride home.

A special addition to the ride were the guys from California, who rolled in right before the start. This created some nice pre ride drama. From what I understand they had their usual pre ride meeting in the late hours the night before (or early). Leading the group was "Country AL" Mittlesdorf, who has won several Tour de Cullman's.

Brett Barker lead the ride out in the mandatory tourist pace for the first 23 miles. This year he tried to keep a more regulated pace which worked out well. It was "Grouppo Compatto" all the way to the now traditional personal relief zone.

From the break the riders headed down towards Chambless Mill, and the wooden bridge where the KOM competition begins. As the better riders worked their way to the front they crossed the wooden bridge and the pace speeded up. The roads around the bridge are one and a half lane with a couple of good climbs and some twists and turns making it very technical.

As the riders exited the Chamblees Mill sections the green flag was dropped and the gauntlet went down. The riders now on the parkway, there was some panic and jockeying for position. They then turned onto the first true climb on Skyball and the selection was made as they entered the Circle of Death.

In the selection was Rucker Agee, Country Al, Jim Brock, Kevin White, Chris Rossi, Randy Crow, Ronny Smith, Tracy Mckay and Philip Thompson. There were other riders right behind and then a horrific wreck happened as some wheels touched sending Ocie Wade to Urgent Care with some nasty road rash.

Once on the steep grade of the first climb Philip Thompson made a move that would prove to be a supreme tactical move. Looks like the Tria boys had a plan and it was working to Philips advantage. Philip never looked back and motored down Skyball road. When he turned onto Joy road aka "The Meat Grinder" he had 1:00 up on the chasing group as he hammered over the series of four climbs. It appeared that organization was going to be difficult in the chasing peleton. When Philip hit the lower section of the final climb his lead had actually grown.

On the four mile accent up to the finish Philip Thompson increased his lead and crested the KOM with no one in sight. On the final climb, Kevin White, Jim Brock, Rucker Agee and Country Al started the lower slopes together. Jim Brock flatted on the steeper sections of the climb which removed him from the podium. Kevin White crested Skyball 1:42 behind Philip with Country Al at 2:42 back.

In the womens KOM Terri Jones won the overall trophy topping Skyball a very strong 5:50 back. Taking the masters trophy was Amy Gravlee who like Jones finished within the top 20 riders overall. In her first Tour de Cullman Beth Santoro was third.

Terri Jones with her Trophy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Calm before the storm...

A view of the upper section of the final climb. Pay dirt is right around the corner. Whether you are racing for the Trophy or just wanting to finish the ride, the end is near.

There will be a steady stream of bicycle riders crossing the mountain on Saturday. You can see the old telecommunications towers about half way up and once you hear the accordion music you know you are near the summit.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Everybody Wants One of These!

King of the Mountain. The KOM trophy is handcrafted out of a limestone block and has Campagnolo chain rings attached. Usually something like a 54/42 or another massive gear combination to represent the maximum effort to be the first person to the top of Skyball Mountain.

There have been some epic battles especially over the past few years. The 2005 Tour was the closest I can recall with Kevin White out sprinting Xterra World Champion, Casey Fannin. In the 2006 race Jeff Terry dropped a very strong field to take the trophy. Once on the Circle of Death it became a cat and mouse game between Jim Brock, Adam Goldweber, Jeff Terry, David Farabaugh and Jason Donaldson.

The 2006 women's KOM was dominated by Lee Farabaugh. Arguably the best Tour de Cullman field, Lee rode away from the women's division. 2005 women's KOM Elizabeth Fox suffered a mechanical on the Circle of Death, and still finished strong.

Its not all about the overall winners but its becoming quite a feat to be the first person to the top of Skyball.


Free Blog Counter