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Twilight at Hawkes Creek Farm

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

The red Georgia clay was wet and super slick but the sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80's. Despite the rain 257 riders showed up with their mud tires to duke it out in Athens. I have a particular fondness for this course because I won my first ever sport class race here two years ago and I really enjoy courses with tricky technical sections. I had a bit of bad luck racing in Tennessee the week prior that left me with a cracked race bike. So, for this race I dusted off the B-team bike that had been delegated as my wife's ride. After some 2:00 AM modifications, the night before the race, the old Schwinn Factory Homegrown was ready for action.

ImageHaving moved to the expert class this year the ante was upped a bit with 5 grueling laps! In the first lap, after a fast but uneventful start, I settled into 5th place behind Joe Dunlop who I have swapped places with over the last couple of races. It turns out that a few guys went out a little strong and were blown by the end of lap one as the main group dropped them. By the second lap we had moved up to 2nd and 3rd respectively but Joe was riding really strong and pulled away from me towards the end of the lap. The race continued to spread out during lap three where I actually set my best split time. Lap 4 was still strong but by the end of this lap I could start to feel the hint of cramps setting in, especially when I got out of the saddle on the power climbs. During the last lap I was able to ward off serious cramps but had lost quite a bit of time on Joe and set my worst lap time of the race. I could feel the pressure of the other riders gaining behind me but was able to hold them off long enough to make it to the podium in 3rd place with a time of 2:26:32.

ImageThe B-team bike held up well for me and the super stiff frame climbed like a champ. If I have to race the bike again I will need to change the stem angle to match the geometry of my previous bike. It's funny how you don't feel small differences until after two and a half hours of punishment. Hopefully the Schwinn will be going back into retirement as I am in the process of building up my new Salsa Bandito to race this weekend. I hope this baby is as fast as it looks!

Eric Paysen

Photos by: Lisa Paysen
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