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Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles: Sol and Twilight
 
By Staff
Date: 4/28/2003
Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles: Sol and Twilight
 

Note: I wrote this in February during my first trip of the year. Since then I have been on the road a bunch racing in Arizona (Usury Pass RR and TT, Valley of the Sun), California (Solano, Redlands, Sea Otter), Colorado and right now Georgia but thought that I would send this out anyway. If you are more concerned with more current stuff just skip down to the section about Athens Twilight Criterium...

The Tour del Sol

Hermosillo, capital city of Sonora, Mexico and the home of soccer fans, the biggest topes (speed bumps) I have ever seen and the Tour del Sol II.

The Tour del Sol is a 4-day, 5-stage race that has all etapas (stages) starting and ending in the city of Hermosillo. With a cash purse of $15,000 and fantastic weather there is not much more you can ask for in the beginning of February. I met up with 7-Up/Maxxis riders Dan Schmatz, Doug Ziewacz and Kevin Monahan in the Southern Arizona city of Patagonia; from there we headed through the border city of Nogales and after some serious pleading, waiting and finally begging at the border we were allowed to continue on our way.

While trying to cross the boarder into Mexico we were helped by Santiago Lopez who is from Hermosillo and who for the rest of the trip became our unofficial tour-guide. At registration we were asked by a local team (VH Norson) to race for them and in return they would help us with registration, feed zones, team car and dealing with most of the logistics that go along with stage racing.

Our team of 4 then transformed into a local Hermosillo team of 6 with the two local guys who we teamed up with (Alex and Christian). The racing kicked off with a short 5-mile ITT in the morning followed by a 100+k RR in the afternoon. Since we decided not to deal with traveling with TT bikes we were at a big disadvantage but I still managed to finish 13th. In the afternoon race we set up our lead-out train for Dan from about 2k out and he then uncorked a ripping sprint and landed a great stage win.

The racing was made especially difficult because the Mexican powerhouse Team Tecos had unofficially entered 3 teams into the race. Going up against that many riders turned out to be a be a bit bigger task than we (or any team) were up to but we sure gave it our best shot.

Etapa two was a 100-mile out and back RR. We did a lot of work keeping things together early in the race (especially Doug) but we kept getting attacked and Tecos not-so-surprisingly were able to send three riders up the road. We were chasing but were not able to catch them. On one of the last climbs of the day Kevin and I made the lead chase-group of 15 over the top of the major climb but my cleat had broken off and my left foot kept slipping off the pedal and I wasn’t able to stand up or go with any attacks. I finally got a sneaker-feed from Santiago in the team car; luckily he and I are both wear the same size shoe so I was able to at least finish the stage.

It must have been quite the sight, me chasing as hard as I could with a running sneaker on my left foot….

The third stage was another 100 mile out and back road race on the main road from Hermosillo towards the costal town of Guaymas. The road was good but by the time we turned around traffic must have been backed up for 10 miles. There must have been some angry people who had to drive along the highway at 27mph and not even get a good view of the race going on just up the road.

A small break got away about 20k from the finish but I was sure that we were going to be able to bring it back. The chase started up about a minute too late and Dan won the field sprint for 4th but was about 10 meters short of catching the break with Christian and myself also both landing in the top 10. The slightly downhill sprint was super fast with my computer registering 48+mph!

The crit was fairly uneventful with the Tecos not wanting to get into a break with any American Pros but more than willing to attacking us at every chance they could. A group of about 15 of us got off the front after Kevin opened up a gap while I attacked and got away. Our group lapped the field and while I was leading out Dan he was chopped in the final corner and was not able to give it a full on sprint and finished 3rd on the stage.

All in all it was great racing, although trying to race against a team of 15 made the racing not as exciting as it could have been, but it was still super fast and aggressive, and fantastic for fitness and for working on our crazy tan lines.

With a whole new language comes an entire new spectrum of slang and nicknames. Since we were riding for a local team we became immersed in a part of the culture that we certainly would not have been exposed to if we were on our own (and we would not have found the incredible restaurants that Alex treated us to). We owe a huge thanks to Alex, Christian and Santiago, the chief ‘41’ for taking care all of us ‘gringo locos.’

Athens Twilight Weekend

How does this sound for a crazy day:

7:00am: Get up and drive 20 minutes to Red Rock Ampetheater in Golden, CO (where U2 recorded Under a Blood Red Sky) for a photo shoot with my new team, Vitamin Cottage.

12:00pm: From there I catch a ride with my teammate T-Ton to the airport for a 12:30 flight from Denver to Atlanta.

5:45pm: Arrive in Atlanta, get my rental car, put the pedal to the medal and start the drive to Athens, GA.

7:45pm: Get into Athens and go straight to my life-long friends house (Frank Teremy) where I meet him and his girlfriend, Hilary, and put my bike together as fast as I could.

8:15pm: Leave Frank's and motor-pace him from his house to the start-line of the Athens Twilight Crit. I get the start line with less than 5 minutes to spare before the gun goes off.

Since I was traveling all day and did not get any warm up I was expecting to have one of my worst days of the year. My plan was to do everything I could in order to get the front of the race as soon as possible, race from the front and basically hope for the best. I made it to the front surprisingly easily and once there tried to pick the moves to go with carefully.

I was feeling great (I have no idea why) but missed the decisive move of the day and there was nothing I could really do. I finished ‘in the money’ but was still disappointed because I had the legs to do really well. The saving grace for me was the fact that my good friend Dan Schmatz (7-Up/Maxxis) won the race with a Herculean attack with 2 laps to go. Dan is a great guy and I hope that he will start to get some of the recognition that he deserves. He is the most talented sprinter I have ever met and with the confidence this should give him he is sure to put a few more notches in his belt before the year is out.

Saturday was a late night and Sunday morning came early with the second race of the Twilight Weekend at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia, which is about 35 miles outside of Athens. The course was a 3-ish mile “hot dog” with a nice big roller right in the middle. I think that everyone was a little tired but I was hoping to continue to feel good and was not about to miss the winning move again.

A good size break got up the road about 20 minutes into the race and I managed not to be in it AGAIN! I did not think that this move would stick but I did not want to risk it and bridged across to it on the hill. I made it across and immediately started to drive it. I thought that if were going to get caught someone in the field was going to have to work for it.

Our lead group was about 15 riders strong but there were only about 5 of us who were actually doing anything. With one lap to go the attacks started coming and there were also a bunch of really good sprinters in the mix including Hayden Godfrey (7-Up/Maxxis), Adam Hodges-Myerson (Sportsbook.com), Roberto Gaggioli and Mike Tillman (Schroeder Iron). With 600 meters to go the sprint started and I was caught with my pants down. I jumped but it was too late and I managed to only get 6th. With racing Tuesday-Sunday this week I will have many more opportunities to do everything right!

Take Care!
Chuck

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