Team Athletic Mentors Tim Coffey goes on a road trip from Brevard, NC to Pensacola, FL
With Hurricane Florence ripping through North Carolina I decided I wanted to skip town and go race my bike somewhere sunny and warm. A week before the race I watched this massive storm gain strength in the ocean off the coast and decided it wasn’t a good idea to spend the weekend in Brevard while the storm rolled in. I was looking on USA Cycling and I found a stage race in Pensacola Florida. There was a solid payout and with forty people pre-registered for the race I decided to sign up.
I was able to get one of my collegiate team mates to come and race with me. Shortly after we both signed up we realized me needed to find a place to stay. We looked at staying at a campground on the ocean but after looking at the weather and the heat advisories I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea. I emailed the race director and he was able to find a place for us to stay. Now with a place to stay and money on the table the race was a go.
We loaded up the car on thursday after class and headed south. The drive ended up being about eight and a half hours counting time for stopping. After a long drive we rolled into Pensacola. Our host family greeted us and we went to sleep right away.
Saturday morning came very early. Our alarms went off at 5:30 am and it was time to get ready for stage one of the race. Stage one was a three mile time trial. After a thirty minute warm-up I was ready to go. I felt super strong during the time trial with my Giant TCR kicking a lot of TTl bikes butt and ended up in 4th place, 12.38 seconds back from first. I knew going into stage two that I would need to win to make up lost time.
Stage two was a 50 mile road race through the rolling hills of northern Florida. There were a lot of attempts of a break away trying to go but nothing stuck. I burnt a lot of matches trying to break away from the field but nothing stuck. After about two hours of racing the whole field was still together and we were flying down the 1k long finishing straight with a group of about 30 guys. In the massive group sprint finish I ended up finishing fourth, topping my sprint off at forty miles an hour with my TCR pulling off another top 5! My result in the road race was enough to stay in fourth overall and I did not lose time. After the road race I was down 16 seconds from first place but I still was in the running for the overall.
The final stage was a forty minute crit. I did a little warm up before the race but it didn’t take too much riding to get warmed up because the heat index was over 100 degrees. During the race before mine a guy crashed in the last corner and was hurt pretty bad so my race was delayed because of it. When my race finally started it was full gas from the gun.
The race leader attacked about four laps in and another guy went with him. Everyone in the peloton looked around at each other and no one chased. I moved to the front and pulled for two laps trying to bring back the breakaway. After pulling for two laps I pulled off the front and everyone sat up and looked around at each other again. This kind of racing is called negative racing. It’s not fun when this happens.
After being frustrated with the negative racing, halfway through the race I got a flat tire and almost fell in a corner. I rolled to the start and grabbed my backup wheel and I was back into the race. After doing one lap with the new wheel the peloton came upon one of the guys that were in the break and he was on the ground all bloody. Turns out while he was sitting on the other guy’s wheel he had his head down and went straight into a barrier. After seeing the guy on the ground the field lit up and the speed got ramped up since the second place was open.
We ripped around the course for another ten minutes there was one lap to go. The field slowed down in the first two turns and then the next three were super fast. We went into the last corner and everyone was fighting for position. I ended up finishing around twenty-fifth in the field sprint which was good enough to keep in fourth overall and I went home with some cash. Talk about an awesome weekend, I had a blast.