'A' and 'B' Race Recaps

“That was epic!”

Epic is a word that is often overused or misused in this day and age. But the use of that word today at the Twin Bing Classic Road Race was entirely appropriate. We in northwest Iowa may lack the cobblestones and frites of Belgium but we have our own punchy climbs and Twin Bing candies. However, any grizzled Belgian road racer would’ve felt right at home with the brutal weather presented to the brave few who came to compete at Climbing Hill on Sunday.

After years of nasty forecasts thankfully yielding on race day to tolerable or even somewhat pleasant conditions, this year our luck with the weather turned against the racers with a vengeance. Overcast skies, light rain, a 25 mph north wind and a temperature of 45 degrees were in store for the 11 ‘A’ race and 29 ‘B’ race starters as they rolled out. This was the nicest part of a day that would see driving snow by early evening. The “Epic” part of the race was just getting started.

’A’ Race

Peter Oien (CPC) and Jon Nelson (Powerade) made separate solo efforts off the front in the early going of the scheduled 68-mile race. Both attempts were brought back quickly. The crosswinds gusting to over 35 mph now made it difficult at times for the racers to stay to the right of the center line as they approached the turn north onto what’s known locally as Old 141. The headwind hit the group hard at this point and the rain intensified. The riders were tightly bunched (and it turns out, negotiating). Shortly before turning east toward Bronson, a rider waved for the official’s vehicle to come forward. He stated they wanted to shorten the race from 3 to 2 laps. After a short radio consultation with the head official, the request was approved and confirmed with the other riders in the group. This would in turn cause the ‘B’ race to be reduced from 2 laps to 1.

Out of Bronson and into the rolling hills the rain was now pouring, blowing sideways and the temperature was dropping. Team Kaos went to work on the fog line up the first hill and riders started to pop as others struggled to hang on. John Rokke (Team Kaos) was buffeted onto the muddy shoulder there but deftly cyclo-crossed his way back onto the road after a short time. Over the hilltop, the first racer of many was ready to call it a day.

A very cold and wet Jon Nelson (Powerade) was the first to climb into the van. Soon after to be followed by Rokke. Two more shivering riders would climb on-board before the turn south toward Climbing Hill. We rolled up to a couple more dropped riders but they said they would continue on. The temperature by now was dipping into the 30's. The blowing rain today was later described by a racer as feeling “like pellets.”

Now onto the Moville Blacktop, we quickly caught up to the second group of 3 and each rider raised a hand. They were suffering in the miserable conditions and wanted to stop the race at 1 lap. Another call was made to the head official and a fast decision had to be made because the leaders; Lee Bumgarner, Joe McWilliams and Jordon Ross (all Team Kaos) were already back to Climbing Hill. They would have to agree to this proposal as well. With no time to drop off the 4 riders and their bikes in the van, we set about catching up to the leaders. They were together and already at the base of the final climb by the time we rolled up to them. The official presented the proposal to stop the race at 1 lap. After a short discussion, the leaders consented. There was no sprint for the finish. Ross rolled across 1st, McWilliams 2nd and Bumgarner 3rd. The ‘B’ race would now be 1 lap as well.

’B’ Race

Written by: Greg Gleason (Central Plains Cycling)
I started the race in back and quickly worked my way to the front. Once in front, I started pressing hard up the hills. At the last hill before the first turn I attacked hard then pushed even more over the top and onto the descent before the first turn. Once around the corner, I looked back to see only four chasers so I held up to regroup. I asked if they wanted to increase the gap and they all answered, YES. We started an echelon and worked together heading north and the gap increased significantly.

Once we got to the northern hilly part of the course I started attacking on every hill. By the fourth hill the group of five was now down to me and Greg Hagele (Team Kaos). We worked together over the last several hills and made the turn onto the only tailwind section with no one in sight chasing us. Finally we arrived to the last turn at Climbing Hill. I attacked the turn with all I had not knowing if Greg was still there. After I crossed the bridge out of town it was time to check and Greg was several hundred yards back... relief! I continued to attack the hill while he faded back. The plan worked! Thank you to Cody McCullough for the advice and race tactics.

-Posted 4/13/14 11:40PM