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Summer Solstice Road Race
June 23, 2003
By Henry Corley
What do Columbia’s cyclists do on the longest Tuesday of the year? They gather to slam around the toughest training race in the Southeast, the Summer Solstice RR!
Usually, we all race together, because the occasional butt-whipping builds fitness and character, but this brutal loop is an exception. So to keep the competition fair, the field split into and A and B groups tonight.
The A group started hard down Harmon Road, eager to hit the first KOM sprint at just 4 miles in. Kyzer, Christopherson and McKeever were all loitering on the front as the group ate up the rolling terrain. Approaching the KOM, there was only a slight elongation of the field as Jay Charles took maximum points, followed by McLeod, Kyzer, Sunday and Christopherson. The field easily reassembled down the backside and onto the smooth and fast Leesburg Rd. Junior McKeever found himself with an advantage and was soon joined by Wilson, but the effort was short-lived as the field found its rhythm just in time to rip a hard right onto Congress Rd. and an appointment with the beast of the day, KOM 2.
From the turn, this road gradually inclines until reaching its maximum grade just before the summit. For such punishment, this KOM is awarded one extra point for each place in the sprint. Kyzer stretched his legs and grabbed the prize, followed closely by Perry, Charles, Tom and a hard-chasing Curran.
The only redeeming quality of Congress is that it drops off sharply down the ridge and allows you a few miles of relief, but it was on this decent that the first real gaps started developing. While many were able to regain contact by the next turn on Toms Creek, it didn't bode well for them, as this road was designed to weed the men from the boys, with a tough climb, rough surface and a gradual gain in elevation. Over the first hill on Toms Creek, Swanson made a smooth effort that resulted in a 5 second gap as the 1km to KOM marker passed under tire. He easily held the advantage down the 40mph decent and up the extremely tough second hill, which was KOM 3. Swanson crossed the line and looked back to see Karl take second, followed by Curran, Charles and Perry.
At this point, with 3 of 4 KOM sprints complete, that competition saw Karl leading with 13 points, followed by Jay with 11, Perry with 10, Tom and Brian with 5 and Eric with 1. As the lead vehicle passed the front group just after KOM 3, you could hear the breathing over the engine as bodies struggled for recovery. For the next 3 miles, only fitness would matter, as the road repeatedly tilted up and the rough surface sapped speed.
The back-markers made a strong attempt to regain contact, but in an instant, the gap opened, and only 7 riders had the measure of effort required to make the race-winning break; Charles, Christopherson, Sunday, McLeod, Swanson, Curran and Kyzer... 3 Cycle Center riders and 4 Outspokin riders.
The break rounded Elon Church road and back down Louis Leconte, settling into a rhythm, as the next 5 miles were flat or downhill. The smooth bike lane on 378 allowed the break to spin out the legs a bit before the final KOM. Making the fast right turn to Elon Church Rd., the break had a KOM sprint and 3 miles of agonizing uphill rollers to the finish line.
Swanson played the first Outspokin card with a hard effort from the corner to the foot of the final KOM hill in an effort to wind up Kyzer for the sprint, but Cycle Center fired back with a sweep of the top three spots as Charles, Sunday and McLeod crossed the line, followed by Curran and Christopherson. This performance saw Charles take the KOM overall, followed by McLeod and Kyzer. It also resulted in Christopherson and Swanson losing contact at 2km to go. Down now just 2 riders to Cycle Center’s 3, Outspokin made the most of it, as Kyzer led Curran up the road to a few second gap inside 2km to go.
Seeing the race slipping away, Sunday led the Cycle Center chase to recapture the duo inside 1km. With a small descent just before the uphill finish, the sprint was lively. With a hard punch to clear McLeod’s grasp, Brian Curran stamped his name on the first RR edition of the TNCWC and claimed double points in the Series standings, as did all top 10 A group finishers. Through tears of joy, he was heard muttering something about wishing there had been a video camera and that the course was every bit as brutal as he had expected.
For his solid KOM performances, Jay Charles rode away with a new Vetta V100HR and a smile. The large chasing group arrived about a minute back, with TNCWC Series leader Oglesby taking the field sprint, followed by Reed and McKeever to round out the top 10.
Images by Henry Corley
KOM Overall: Charles (16 pts), McLeod (14 pts), Kyzer (13 pts), Sunday (8 pts), Curran (7 pts), Swanson (5 pts), Christopherson (2 pts) Finish: (10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 pts) Curran, McLeod, Charles, Kyzer, Sunday, Christopherson, Swanson, Oglesby, Reed, McKeever B group KOM Overall: Mike G. (6 pts), Charles B. (5 pts), Mark V. (4 pts), Dan P. (2 pts), Erwin T. (1 pt) Finish: Charles Ballowe (Outspokin), Mark Voigt (Outspokin), Daniel Patterson (Cycle Center), Mike Guidotti Overall Standings 1 (51 pts) Ken Oglesby (Cycle Center) 2 (32 pts) Tom Sunday (Cycle Center) 3 (23 pts) Brian Bluemle (Cycle Center), Karl Kyzer (Outspokin), Brian Curran (Outspokin) 4 (22 pts) Perry McLeod (Cycle Center) 5 (21 pts) James Wilson (USC) 6 (20 pts) Lang Powell (Outspokin) 7 (18 pts) Jay Charles (Cycle Center) 8 (17 pts) Brandon McKeever (Earth Fare), Eric Christopherson (Outspokin) 9 (13 pts) John Neal (USC) 10 (11 pts) Jeremiah Swanson (Outspokin) 11 (10 pts) Chip Mosteller (Veloshoppe), Mike Guidotti 12 (8 pts) Rob Reed (Outspokin), Charles Ballowe (Outspokin) 13 (7 pts) Mark Voigt (Outspokin) 14 (6 pts) Scott Royce (Outspokin), Keith Iwinski (Outspokin), Jeff 15 (5pts) Tim Woolford (Earth Fare) 16 (4 pts) Matt, Daniel Patterson (Cycle Center) 17 (3 pts) Paul Harrell (Harrells) 18 (2 pts) Tyler 19 (1 pt) Damon Little (Harrells), Erwin Threatt