A few members of the Bike Doctor team had done Tour de Millersburg last year and absolutely raved about it on many levels. They said the town was fantastic and very energized, the courses were great and the organization was top notch. For the team members that went this year, the guys reported that their expectations were exceeded and that this would be a fixture on the calendar for years to come.
This event centers around the small town of Millersburg, PA and is promoted and run by Team Chameleon. It is comprised of a short rolling 9.5 mile time trial on Saturday morning, a criterium Saturday afternoon and a road race Sunday morning. The riders that made the trek for Bike Doctor to Millersburg were Scott Giles, Sunny Gill and Jim Weinstein for the category 1,2 race and Robb Hampton, Frank Ramos and Brian Sjoberg for the category 3 race.
Representative Giles TT machine!
Time Trial – The guys woke up to a beautiful morning, around 75 degrees and were amped to tackle this out and back course. For the category 1,2 team, Scott Giles posted the fastest time for the team on his “frankenbike” with a 20:06. For those that haven’t seen Scott’s bike it is an old hooker bike from the late 80’s/early 90’s (see representative picture). His time was good for 8th on the day. Jim Weinstein cracked the top 30 with 28th and Sunny Gill (under cyclocross conversion) came in 51st. For the category 3 guys, Brian Sjoberg posted a time of 21:18, good enough for 6th place. Frank Ramos and Robb Hampton finished 24th and 31st, respectively.
Giles driving the pace in the 1,2 race. (Photo Credit: Joe Mallis)
Criterium – The criterium course had been touted as a flat course but the guys found out very quickly that “flat” was relative to last year’s course that must have went over Alpe d’ Huez every lap. While it wasn’t like the Luray “wall” criterium, the hill that spanned from the 3rd to 4th corner would takes its toll on the fields quickly. For the category 1,2, Scott Giles was called up to the line as a result of his top 10 time trial finish. Once the gun went off, Scott wasted no time in splitting the field to pieces and within a couple laps there were small groups sprinkled all over the course. Unfortunately Jim and Sunny started towards the back of the field and were now part of one of the trailing groups. They would eventually be pulled. Giles on the other hand was destroying the field. He was chasing breaks that others didn’t want to and was following smart wheels. Unfortunately, luck would not be on his side and with about 12 laps left he went down in corner 2. Broken handlebars and bruised pride … but head still intact. The guys were looking forward to the road race for some retribution.
Breakaway established in Category 3 race.
For the category 3 team, Brian Sjoberg was called up to the line and in similar fashion to Scott Giles he bolted off the front with Justin Mauch (HPC/List). Justin has a habit of doing this for the first 3-4 laps so Brian wanted to tag along this time. After the first lap they had a gap but Brian was not willing to work because there was still 24 miles left in the race. Justin continued to set a blistering pace and after 3 laps Brian saw another rider bridging across, Calvin Hoops (Shirks Racing ??). This group represented 1st (Justin), 3rd (Calvin) and 6th (Brian) in the time trial. This was a significant group and so Brian joined in the effort. With every lap their gap grew and it was only a matter of time when the trio would lap the field.
Sjoberg victory in category 3 criterium! (Photo Credit: Joe Mallis)
With 10 to go the riders could now see the field and so Brian decided to stop pulling because Robb and Frank had been caught back in the rear of the field at the start and had been pulled. It would be better to sprint against 2 guys without teammates then 20 other riders and their teammates. Despite Brian sitting on, 2 laps later they caught the field. They quickly moved to the front of the field and settled in for the sprint. On the final lap, Brian was 4th position coming out of the final corner with Justin glued to his wheel. Brian waited about 50 meters and then fired off his sprint for a victory!
Fast downhill before the turn in the road race.
Road Race – Fantastic, easy rolling hills circuit course. Add a little rain and it was great conditions (not everyone feels this way but the team did) for some racing action. 10 minutes before the start, it began to rain. While the course wouldn’t splitter the field, one part of the course was definitely worth considering and that was the downhill into town. With 50% (if not more) of the fields on carbon wheels with carbon brakes, things could get interesting real fast. The “downhill” was the 3km or so leading into the finish. Basically imagine screaming at 40+ mph in pouring rain in a pack of 60+ guys going into a sharp, bumpy tight right hand side street at the bottom of a hill. For good measure there was a manhole cover dead center on the turn. After surviving the turn their was about 800 meters to the final right and 200 meters to the finish line. It’s a fast and furious finish that requires some Cojones!
Hampton finishing the leadout for Sjoberg on the fast downhill finish!
Category 3 – The first two laps were pretty uneventful however on the third lap two strong riders (Andrew Shelby of Whole Wheel Velo Club and a PA rider that placed 4th in the TT) peeled off the front. The pack seemed content to let them roll for a little but Brian know what was up the road and tried to rally the other GC teams to help in the pursuit. The team did their best to reel in the two escapees but came up just short.
Stage race podium (Sjoberg 3rd).
Robb bombed the final descent into town to set Sjoberg up for the final kilometer, one guy bombed underneath just before the fast corner and created a gap that Sjoberg started to close but then threw his chain (1 of 3). After a few pedal strokes the chain went back on and he was able to resume the chase and then his chain flew off again (2 of 3). 4-5 guys passed him just before the final corner and 250 meters left. As he stood up to finish the sprint his chain fell off again. 1 or 2 more riders came by him but he was able to hold onto 10th place on the stage and secured a the final podium spot for the overall. Great job team, Sjoberg fix your bike!
Giles and Weinstein on the fast corner into town.
Category 1,2 – The team planned to follow wheels and set up Jim for the sprint. On the 3rd lap Jim indicated to Scott that he would be good for the sprint and they agreed to find each other on the 4th lap. However on the 4th lap Jim started to cramp pretty bad. He did all the things you are supposed to do … shook his legs, stretched, drank a lot quick … things didn’t get worse, but didn’t get better. Scott ushered Jim up the final climb and had them sitting in good position for the final downhill. Jim was able to be in the top 10 or so that were hammering down the downhill. It was 45mph! He said that he couldn’t see well with the rain and everyone was elbowing each other to get the front 3 or 4 guys wheels. Jim’s heart rate was at max … but that’s because he thought he was going to die going into the right turn on a wet slick road at 45 mph but they made it through. He snuck into the line about 15 back and began his sprint. Unfortunately he had nothing for the sprint as every painful pedal stroke caused a massive cramp. He ended up 28th. Giles, realizing his job was done, cruised in safely.
All in all it was a great weekend and the team vows to be back next year!
One special note: The community was amazing. They really support the race. The guys passed at least 3 or 4 Amish horse drawn buggies. Many of the families were out on their lawns during the crit and road race (even with the rain) cheering the racers on. It gave the team a great sense of joy to know that their enjoyment of the “little” things in life is a shared trait. Just as the guys were racing in the pouring rain, truly enjoying their time on the bikes, pushing their bodies to the limits, enjoying the outdoors … the Amish families too have made a life of enjoying the basics … the little things, the life without much material worth. Although it seemed very dichotomous with the team … and their $5-10K bikes … their shared joy of the outdoors and that feeling of inner nirvana that they get from riding and competition …well, that they think is something we all experience in a positive way …
Already looking forward to next year.
Next weekend the team will be headed to Church Creek TT, Appalachia Visited and Dawg Days! Wish them luck!
Additionally the team would like to thank its sponsors for their generous support, without whom we wouldn’t be able to promote and enjoy the sport that we love. Please check out their great products/services: Bike Doctor, Cannondale, Bell Helmets, Tifosi Optics.