by Austin Montalvo
The second race of the South Central Collegiate Cycling Conference took
place in hills of Fayetteville, a beautiful town in northwest Arkansas where bikes
and breweries are on the top of the to-do list.
Saturday morning kicked off with a beautiful 8.4-mile time trial. This route
followed along an ice-cold creek all while allowing riders to obtain a total of 501 feet
of climbing. Mother Nature started the racers off with temps in the mid 30’s and
head winds gusting up to 25mph. The concerns of the racers gradually disappeared
as the sun shone brighter and brighter, quickly warming up the day. The last quarter
mile of this race was a downhill sprint where riders topped out their speeds in
hopes of shaving time off. Arkansas’ own Joseph Pardue (University of Arkansas)
took the win for Men’s B cat when he came zooming past the finish line. He was
letting all the other racers know this was his backyard and by no means was he
going to let them win easily.
After the TT, racers had a lengthy break where they could regroup for the
afternoon road race. One team even enjoyed PB & J sandwiches while hanging
around in their hammocks all while basking in the sun. There were not many trees
around so they improvised and hung their hammocks between their vehicle and a
light pole. I was quite jealous of their setup myself. There was a lot of friendly
communication between teams as strategies and trash talk were exchanged for the
The road race began that afternoon with a 2.8-mile neutral rollout that
eventually merged into the loop that would be the race route. The loop itself was 12
miles long with about 657 ft. of climbing per lap! The amount of laps racers
completed depended on their category. Men’s D and Women’s C cat raced 2 laps;
whereas Men’s A raced 5 laps. That’s a whole lot of climbing! There was one
particular climb towards the end of the loop called Weaver Hill, which personally
made me doubt if I would be able to climb it and not fall over on my bike. There
were also sharp turns at the bottom of some descents that put the riders’ skills to
the test. Namely, turn #3 had racers jumping the ditch BMX style. Racers’ favorite
part of the road race was the 2.8-mile uphill commute back to the staging area after
the race was over. It was the icing on the cake and was Arkansas’ way of saying “Y’all
come back now”. Joseph Pardue obviously still had tons of energy from the earlier
event and showed everyone how to climb Weaver Hill as if he was on a motorcycle.
He took first place in his division for the road race as well, bringing much pride to
his school’s ranking.
The next day (Sunday) was the last race day of the weekend where riders
gathered to race the short, but fast crit course. The .5 mile course was held on the
University of Arkansas campus near the Agricultural complex. This course only had
12 ft. of elevation per lap (thank God!). This course required the perfect
combination of skill and speed. If you were too fast, you would miss the turn but too
slow and you would get left behind. The biggest thing about this course is if you
were not fast enough to stay in the lead group then you would get lapped very
quickly, and officials would pull you out so that you were not a hazard to other
riders or yourself. I raced all of 5 laps before the fast boys had already started
catching up to me thus I was pulled early and placed.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend for racing and the scenery along the
courses was gorgeous. This town is not short on things to do, and I highly
recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. Be sure to stop by the local bike shop
“Phat-Tire” and pet the cool dogs that are hanging out.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
By: Austin Montalvo, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
The SCCC conference kicked off their first cycling race this past weekend in College Station, TX with the Aggieland Omnium. This race was hosted by Texas’ own Texas A&M, and Rice University. This is not their first rodeo hosting a SCCC race and veteran cyclists always expect a great time here.
First on the agenda was the “Tunis Roubaix” road race. The course was set as a 9.3-mile loop featuring 200 feet of elevation gain. The most note worthy section of this course was the 1 mile stretch of gravel that riders had to hit on every loop. The weather gave nerve-wrecking clouds at first but then the sky opened up into sunshine and gave the racers a great relief, as they would be starting the race dry. Eventually the weather did turn back cloudy but the rain held out for the most part. Texas’ fast boys took first place in this race when Brady Reed (A&M) and Collin Noe (Rice) crossed the finish line before others in their A and B groups respectively. Oklahoma State University however had the highlight when C rider Zachery Spier (OSU) and D rider Joshua Spiers (OSU) finished out front of their categories. When it came time for the women to show off; Amy Floyd (MSU) in A group, Angelica Rigsby (A&M) in B group, and Abby Biedenbach (OSU) in C group all placed first in their divisions. Watching these determined athletes race was incredible and they did not disappoint in providing an encompassing event.
Later Saturday afternoon the weather was not so kind to racers for the “Rock Prairie TT” (Time Trial). It was very misty and sprinkling rain from time to time. The course was an “out” course of 6.2 miles for all racers. The time trial course passed beautiful ranches with no shortage of cows cheering riders on. The women really pulled out the rocket boosters on this event when Amy Floyd (MSU) placed 1st in A group with a time of 15:44. She was followed by Christina Rigbsy (A&M) and Brissa Montalvo (MSU). Sarah Starz (UNT) took first in the B group with a time of 17:49. C group was dominated by Abby Biedenbach (OSU) with a time of 17:11. Multiple riders said the best part of the TT was “crusin” back 6.2 miles to the starting line in the misting rain. It provided a better chance to observe the beautiful Texas terrain without trying to attempt to achieve warp speed.
Sunday morning the weather was equally as nasty for the last event of the weekend, “Heritage Funding Crit”. This criterium was a 1.1 mile course held on Texas A&M’s campus near Research Park. Between the previous nights rain and the mornings’ wet misty fog, the entire course was slick and nasty despite top notch clean up efforts. This did not intimidate the riders what so ever as they sped around each wet corner with maximum precision. This event is a favorite to fans as they watch riders reach top speeds while cornering around tight sharp corners in attempt to pass up each other. Highlighted was the mens’ D group because when asked “who here has never raced crit before?”, a good 75% of the racers (including myself) raised their hands. There were many laughs amongst riders and fans because everyone knows crit can be one of the funnest, most dangerous events during the weekend. Joshua Spiers (OSU) put out the work needed to take first in the D group. He was followed by Patrick Howard (UTA) and Nicholas Wong (UTA). Only one rider fell and it was not too serious so there was a sigh of relief by many when the results were in for the D group. I myself with others got pulled from the race for being a bit behind but it provided a great view to see these fast guys blow by the finish line.
All in all, this was a great season opener for the SCCC racers and they truly enjoyed their time in Texas despite not so ideal weather conditions. Texas A&M and Rice University made sure everyone was comfortable and put together an extremely great race. Special kudos went out to Bike Barn bike shop for having a tent with all the supplies necessary for last minute emergency repairs. The race directors did a great job of keeping everything moving on time and did a great job of providing answers for all questions. The riders look forward to the races to come as they chase each other in hopes of claiming top spots in their conferences category.