Pro-cycling fans are pretty darn smart, especially when it comes to Phil Gaimon.
In a ProVéloPassion interview with the BISSELL Pro Cycling rider before this year’s Amgen Tour of California commenced, readers chose the replies they believed Gaimon had selected to each of eight questions.
It turns out the 2009 California race mustache had a special purpose. And he thinks it would be fun to ride a ‘cross race in Belgium. Find out why below, as Gaimon’s answers to the eight questions, with new quotes and insights from this popular rider, are revealed. The answers provided by readers are indicated in parentheses after each question.
Q1. Phil Gaimon wore a mustache during the 2009 Tour of California. He ditched the ‘stache because: a. it was itchy (60%), b. it was excess weight (40%).
Phil: a. it was itchy.
“Mostly I ditched it because I knew I looked horrible. I wanted something so that my friends could find me on TV. That was the reason I grew it. My parents didn’t know what I looked like on a bike in the new team kit that year so I was like, ‘I’ll be the guy with the mustache.’” [None of Gaimon’s friends followed bike racing at the time. - ed]
Q2. If Phil was alone on a deserted island and only got one thing to eat, he would choose: a. chocolate chip cookie (96%), b. peanut butter flavored Jelly Belly candy (4%).
Phil: a. chocolate chip cookie.
“I can’t look at Jelly Bellies any more. That was a long time ago.”
Q3. Phil has typically been strong in early season because: a. success in early season races early in his cycling career has been a big motivator (52%), b. he works like a dog over winter (48%).
Phil: Mostly b., but some of a. 60/40.
Q4. Phil’s most embarrassing moment ever was: a. crashing out of the yellow jersey at San Dimas (76%), b. his teammates discovered he didn’t pack enough cookies to share with them at a race (24%).
Phil: a. crashing out of the yellow jersey at San Dimas.
“That wouldn’t be embarrassing when they found out I didn’t have enough cookies because they’d steal mine. That’s happened. Stefano Barberi used to steal my cookies at every race. I would bring cookies to the races and he would steal them. That was on Kenda in 2010. We got past it as friends, but it was one of those things where he had to hold onto it longer than it was funny.
“It was pretty embarrassing to crash on my face out of a yellow jersey. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t remember what happened in the hospital, but piecing that together – ’Oh I just crashed in a bike race. Oh shit, I was in yellow’ — that was not easy to accept and get over. It doesn’t get a whole lot more embarrassing. [Except] maybe showing up the next day with a scary freak face, a race that the day before everyone was like, ‘Oh he’s the man,’ and now you’re the circus freak.” [The day following the crash Gaimon appeared at the San Dimas criterium stage with his teammates, “just because I wanted people to see I was alive.” – ed]
Q5. Phil was born in: a. Ohio (84%), b. The Bahamas (16%).
Phil: a. Ohio.
“I was on a team that was out of the Bahamas that one year, the VMG team – that must have been where that [Bahamian origin] came from. The sponsors were Bahamian but I’ve only been there twice. Born in Ohio but moved to Atlanta when I was two. My parents are both professors at Georgia Tech. So I grew up in Atlanta and kind of wound my way back to Athens after college.”
Q6. This is Phil’s most prized possession: a. his memories (89%), b. he loves people more than stuff (11%).
“I love people more than stuff but I’ve got to have some kind of prized possession. That’s tough. I guess my memories – that would be up there. I’ve had some awesome times and been to some amazing places.” [Gaimon had been asked to identify his most prized possession for use in the question. – ed]
Q7. A race Phil would most like to do that he hasn’t: a. the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado (70%), b. World Cup cyclo-cross race in Namur, Belgium (30%).
Phil: b. World Cup cyclo-cross race in Namur, Belgium – “because it’s different.”
“Do I have to race the ‘cross race or can I just eat french fries and drink beer while I watch?
“I think it would be fun to do a cross race if don’t have to do well. I could be the guy at the back taking the dollar bills out of the mud and get in the way when [Jeremy] Powers laps me. Yea, that would be fun…
“It would be more fun to do a NASCAR race. Maybe not NASCAR, maybe one of the F1 things. You should have seen me drive down the mountain just now…”
[All fun aside, it goes without saying that the BISSELL rider is very excited to have a chance to race Colorado in August. – ed.]
Q8. Something else Phil has never done but would like to try is: a. beat Tom Danielson up Mt. Lemmon (63%), b. swim with dolphins with Tom Danielson (37%).
Phil: b. swim with dolphins with Tom Danielson.
“See, if I beat Tom on Mt. Lemmon, I wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it…”
Phil Gaimon of BISSELL Pro Cycling enters this year’s Amgen Tour of California planning for an experience that differs from his two outings there in 2009 and 2011. “I think the last couple of years I’ve notched it up a little bit,” he said, from his training grounds in Big Bear.
This year, he’s excited about the chance to “finally do California right.” He’s ready.
Fresh off second overall at the Tour of the Gila where on the toughest stage he attacked the select group on the road and led up the final climb, Gaimon appears fully recovered from the horrific-looking March crash in the San Dimas Stage Race. The Tour of the Gila is a UCI stage race with a lot of climbing in hot weather.
Concussion testing three days after the San Dimas incident suggested no damage. He soon began training again and judging by his power meter’s numbers in mid-April, he’d returned to the form he showed in San Dimas.
Describing the level of those power numbers as a relief, Gaimon added, “Honestly it’s sad that that was the scary part for me – that and waiting for the medical bills. The scary part is like: OK, my legs were absolutely at the top of their game the moment I crashed. I was at the best I’ve ever been, and is that going to come back?”
Gaimon trained out of Big Bear, California last year for a few summer weeks and felt stronger for riding at altitude. So he decided to return earlier this year.
The Big Bear formula seems to have worked again. He won the first stage in San Dimas. His attack on the last stage of the Tour of the Gila – a race he’s never aced coming from sea level – is evidence Gaimon is on form.
Not ready in 2009 & 2011
BISSELL’s 2013 Amgen Tour of California team includes Gaimon, who rode it as a first year professional cyclist in 2009 when the race still ran in February, with perhaps the wettest weather ever in the event’s history.
California was the first race on Gaimon’s 2009 calendar as a pro. “It was a completely alien thing. I had no idea what to be ready for or what was going on. I was kind of shocked to make it as far as I did in the race.” He didn’t finish.
Two years later in 2011 Gaimon finished in 94th place. “The second time I did it I think my legs were almost ready, but that year I hadn’t even had a great spring either…Honestly I think last year was the first year that I was actually ready, that I actually could have done something in that race.”
For a U.S. domestic rider to be competitive at California against riders racing in Europe, Gaimon believes that domestic guy has to rank as one of – if not the best – in the U.S.
Given his current level of fitness and increased experience, the 27 year-old aims to land near the top of the GC list when the field reaches Santa Rosa next Sunday.
The eight day California race covers 729 miles (1,173 k) with 62,875 feet (19,164 meters) of elevation gain. The organizers reduced the amount of climbing overall by 22% compared to last year, but increased difficulty by adding a time trial and stage ending on short uphills. Mt. Diablo replaces Mt. Baldy for the mountain top finish.
|Elevation gain and mileage totals, 2013 Amgen Tour of California|
|start – finish||gain (ft)||miles||finish type|
|stage 1||Escondido – Escondido||11,132||102.6||flat|
|stage 2||Murrieta – Palm Springs||9,790||124.3||uphill|
|stage 3||Palmdale – Santa Clarita||8,891||110.4||downhill/flat|
|stage 4||Santa Clarita – Santa Barbara||5,161||83.6||flat|
|stage 5||Santa Barbara- Avila Beach||7,776||115.6||flat/rising|
|stage 6||San Jose||2,149||19.8||uphill, TT|
|stage 7||Livermore – Mt. Diablo||10,384||91.4||mountain top|
|stage 8||San Francisco – Santa Rosa||7,592||81.0||flat|
The uphill with a grade averaging 9% on stage 2 into Palm Springs should especially hurt, if road signs are any indication. “Steep grade. Turn off air conditioner,” one sign reads. Gaimon rode that climb three times when he previewed the first two stages. He’s never ridden the road up Mt. Diablo. Plans included scoping out additional stages but the crash siphoned away the time for that excursion.
“That’s the only thing I’ve missed is that I won’t be coming into California having seen every stage. But neither will anybody else,” the BISSELL rider said. “That’s kind of part of bike racing, is just knowing how to wing it where no one has seen all the stages. Just having seen two I think is a pretty good advantage.”
In his opinion, “There’s not a whole lot of reason to pre-ride anything,” unless you’re one of the favorites to go home wearing yellow.
“Basically I could see the course but the most important part are the butts that I’m following up the climbs and that’s something that no pre-riding really has any effect on,” he explained. “It’s going to be me trying to stay with the top guys at the crucial points.”
Gaimon believes the GC will sort itself out based on time gaps on three days: the uphill arrivals at Palm Springs and Mt. Diablo, and the time trial.
While he’s heard some riders express apprehension over the Palomar climb on stage 1, he wouldn’t call the first day overly difficult because the riders ascend the easy side of Palomar, with downhill and flats to the finish.
On the other hand, “It’s so hard to tell how it’s going to really feel,” he said, until the KOM is approached at race pace.
Factoring in the race
Like any bike race, what will unfold this coming week over Golden State roadways is anybody’s guess.
“There’s a lot you can control and that’s all you can do is control what you can control and then the rest of it is luck, team,” Gaimon said. “There’s nothing really that predictable about it.”
And there’s more to winning than fitness. Gaimon talked about how satisfying it can be when things actually go perfectly and a rider finds himself with a select group that contains the winner. Fitness bar hurdled, the real race begins, what Gaimon called “a chess game of who’s going to win because any number of this pool of guys is strong enough to win if he knows how to use the other guys and if he knows how to race.
“So you achieve this level of fitness and then you have to achieve a level of understanding, and it really makes the sport. It’s complicated but it’s amazing and that’s the part that I love, all the different elements to it. And when it’s right, and when you’re really a part of the race, I think that’s the coolest thing.”
When Gaimon rolls up to the start line in Escondido tomorrow he’ll set off to become a part of the race. In mid-April he had a top ten goal in mind.
In celebration of today’s Stage 1 of the 2013 Tour of the Gila Powered by SRAM, here’s a collection of Stage 1 photos from 2012.
Stage 1 of this road race begins in downtown Silver City, New Mexico and ends with a 6.7 mile (10 k) climb to a mountain-top finish near the ghost town of Mogollon.
The women race for 73 miles (117 k) and the men for 92 miles (148 k). Racing is pretty laid-back on the rolling terrain until the pack hits the beginning of the final climb. Riders who want to podium need to position themselves well at the bottom of the climb where cross-winds and a narrow road will separate the peloton into groups.
2012 Tour of the Gila Stage 1 Gallery
[updated 5/4/2013 -- Thanks for your votes, the poll is now closed. Hope you had fun guessing how Phil Gaimon answered the questions below. Check back for how he answered, with lots of new quotes.]
Pro-cycling fans know who “Phil the Thrill” is, but how did Phil Gaimon get that nickname? How did he acquire such a fierce passion for cookies? Would the Athens, Georgia resident ever consider moving to Boulder, Colorado to live near several of his BISSELL Pro Cycling teammates?
Fans who follow the 27 year-old pro-cyclist believe Gaimon is one of the most exciting U.S. domestic riders for several reasons.
First, he’s an early adopter of the green “CLEAN” tattoo, a statement against doping in sport.
Second, he wants to succeed as a professional bike rider as fiercely as he loves cookies – well, maybe even more so. His cycling resume includes overall wins at Merco Cycling Classic and Redlands Bicycle Classic, stage wins at the San Dimas Stage Race, and two victories at the Mt. Washington Hillclimb.
And third, this clean racer has a way with words that treats cycling fans to an honest and very human peek inside the life of a professional cyclist. In 2009 he described the transition from amateur to professional racing in a Bicycling.com Rider Diary during the Tour of California.
Gaimon currently entertains and enlightens readers online in the Phil Gaimon Journal on VeloNews and in the Ask a Pro column in the print magazine Velo.
But there are some things Gaimon hasn’t written about yet. This Off the Beaten Road interview is designed for fans and new followers hungry for more spill on Phil. It ends with a short reader’s quiz to test your Gaimon IQ. And don’t forget to follow Gaimon and BISSELL during the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, from May 1 to 5.
Phil post-San Dimas crash
The dramatic nature of Gaimon’s crash on March 23rd during day two of the San Dimas Stage Race – a helicopter airlifted him from the event after he made contact with barriers face-first – left the cycling community fearing for his life.
He left the hospital that night, bloody but walking. Last week, with in excess of twenty stitches removed from his face, Gaimon said he looked “very close to normal now, acceptable anyway.”
One reminder of that San Dimas Saturday will stay with the BISSELL rider for quite some time. Gaimon described the scar on his forehead as little, then backpedaled on its estimated size. “…there’s a pretty decent scar on my forehead, like a Y shape. But I figure, scars on the forehead, chicks are into Harry Potter. I think that’s in now. I’m hoping that works.” [the fictional Harry Potter carries a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead – ed.]
Phil in Big Bear
Gaimon’s temporary training home-away-from-Athens is a friend’s ski house in Big Bear in southern California. The four-bedroom residence is comfortable and he likes the riding.
“I think it’s a good environment for training. It’s not Boulder – it’s not full of cyclists, which I think is good,” he said. “I want to show up at the race and that’s when I see the guys I’m racing against. Boulder’s like Mecca for cyclists…I think it would bother me if Rory Sutherland passed me on Flagstaff [Mountain] or something. I don’t think I’d handle that well.”
Though when pressed about whether Sutherland would in fact pass him, Gaimon said, “Well, no. Not this year. But he would have before.”
Last week snow in Big Bear and his BISSELL team’s request for blood work led Gaimon to drive down in elevation to Redlands. He described the trip as 40 minutes of hairpin turns that he couldn’t help but take using his bike racing skills.
He laughed while recalling a previous trip. “I’ve gotten really good at it [the descent] except I drive a Toyota Matrix so my car isn’t too happy about how good I am. I got a flat tire the other day just ripping down, I tore the side out of it…Bike racing kind of gives you these weird instincts that you have to apply to everything else…So I definitely take the hot line on the descents in my car.”
Phil the Thrill
Gaimon didn’t earn the nickname “Phil the Thrill” from fast car driving or bombing down hills on a bike.
“I think I came up with that when I was 6 or 7, as I joke – like playing basketball with my friends or something at school,” Gaimon explained. “Pretty much my entire life I’ve been ironically trying to get it to stick, where I realize that I’m not the thrill but it’s funny. So I’ve been trying to do that now for 20 something years…It’s just been a mission of my life to earn the nickname that I thought was funny when I was a child.”
Sometimes people don’t understand the true irony of this nickname. One day at last year’s Redlands Bicycle Classic, Gaimon took a few moments to put the thrill into Phil. He selected what he said was a flat-brimmed hat and super-sized sunglasses for his podium outfit. “…there were some comments, like ‘this guy thinks he’s awesome,’” Gaimon said.
His intention, however, was the exact opposite of what those comments imply.
“I thought it was funny because I knew there was going to be no one watching that podium because it’s a bike race and no one really cares and that’s why it’s funny to be Phil the Thrill, because of course I’m not the thrill.”
Phil the cookie connoisseur
Front and center on the home page of Gaimon’s website, philthethrill.net, are his cookie rankings. He prefaces the list by saying, “I am a firm believer that cookie consumption is directly correlated with happiness. As such, I have had cookies all over the country, and consider myself an expert…”
How did this love affair with cookies begin?
“I wish I remembered. That probably started before I was six,” he said.
“I’m not the first one to notice that cookies are delicious. I wish I felt that way about brussel sprouts and broccoli. I’d be a little healthier.”
Like so many people on the planet, Gaimon simply enjoys the way cookies taste. “That’s been just a basic part of my life. As long as I can remember, anytime there was a cookie around, I wanted it.”
And who supplied those goodies when he was a kid? His grandma gave him a shoebox packed with cookies on his birthday. One day while in college he received a note on the door saying the post office held a package for him. The note included the sender’s name.
“I knew it was a box full of cookies,” Gaimon recalled. “So I brought a half-gallon of milk to the post office and I sat in my car and consumed the entire shoe box. I didn’t want to share the cookies with my roommates so I had to keep it private. That was probably the healthiest thing I ate that week.”
Phil the English major
Aside from cookies, what else is Gaimon passionate about off-the-bike?
“It’s hard. You have to focus on the bike,” he responded. “I think literature. I read a ton. I have an English degree and I want to write some day. I do a little bit of writing but I want to write something legitimate. When I finished college I made a giant book list of all the books I want to read before I write something.”
The list contained about 300 titles.
At the time of this interview Gaimon was reading 1Q84. He called the novel strange and interesting. His coach, Matt Koschara, sent it to him after the San Dimas accident.
“My coach is strange. He’ll send me a YouTube video along with my training of like a Looney Tunes cartoon and – I love my coach – I don’t know if he just thinks it’s funny and I’ll enjoy it or if there is some little hidden thing I have to decipher.”
Phil’s first book
He crossed the final book of the 300 off his list last October. That’s one book a week without any extra-curricular reading. Then Gaimon started to write a book. And finished a draft. He said VeloPress is now reviewing it.
The working title of Gaimon’s book reads: It’s all about the bike, pro-cycling on $10 a day.
His book is a collection of stories drawn from his pro-cycling career and experiences while breaking into the sport.
“It’s a lot of funny stories of just how I got to the point where I could finally pay some bills with this thing [cycling], how hard it was, and how ridiculous it is but why it was worth every minute and what I got out of it. I don’t have a $5 million dollar house in Austin to sell but I have some experiences that I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life. I think that’s the main thing I get from cycling…and I think that’s the message I try to get across. Another angle of it is there are all these books about the fake pro-cycling, this facade of doping. And for there to be a fake pro-cycling there has to be a real one and that’s what I’m going for.”
Phil the observer
As a writer, Gaimon has his antennae up for scenes that best express the reality of being a professional cyclist. One of his favorite observations occurred during dinner at a stage race. Every rider on day one helped himself to a good portion of greens, he said. But that changed as the race progressed.
“Every day you go to the salad buffet at dinner and every day there is less lettuce and more croutons and dressing on your plate,” he said. “You just don’t have the energy to chew all that lettuce, you don’t want to carry it, you don’t want to look at it and you just want empty calories and carbs and sugar. And the idea of something green is just something you’ll have to deal with pooping later; it’s not worth it.”
Reader quiz: guess how Phil answered these questions
How well do you now know Phil Gaimon?
As part of this interview he provided replies to the questions below. Select the answers you believe he chose by clicking on “vote” for each question. At midnight on Friday May 3rd voting will close. Soon thereafter Gaimon’s real answers will be revealed in an Off the Beaten Road follow-up. Be sure to check back because his comments will entertain and enlighten.
How did Phil Gaimon answer the following questions?
Phil Gaimon’s Team History
2009: Jelly Belly
2010 – 2012: Kenda
1st Overall, Redlands Bicycle Classic 2012
1st Stage 1, Redlands Bicycle Classic 2012
1st Stage 1, San Dimas Stage Race 2012, 2013
1st San Dimas Stage Race, Stage 2 2009
1st Young Rider Competition, Univest Grand Prix 2007
1st Mt. Washington Auto Road Hillclimb 2008, 2009
1st General Classification, Georgia Cup Dahlonega
2nd Overall, San Dimas Stage Race 2009
12th General Classification, Tri Peaks Challenge
Course Record – Northampton, Massachusetts 9 Mile Individual Time Trial
Course Record – Piru, California 40 k Time Trial
BISSELL Pro Cycling Team Sponsors
Advantage Benefits, Pinarello, Campagnolo
MOst, Blackburn, Speed Merchants, Employment Group, Emerald Spa, Giro, SpiderTech, Feedback Sports, K-Edge Cycling Solutions, Stuffits, GoSoap Sports Detergent, Giordana Clothing, Speedplay Pedals, 1st Endurance, DMT Shoes, Finish Line, Echelon Cycle & Multisport, Vredestein, Chamois Butt’r, SRM, Merrell, eSoles.
Today Silver City, New Mexico residents closed their curtains for the night on a Monday with a high temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s only slightly above average for this small town of just over 10,000 residents which in nine days will host the 27th Tour of the Gila.
About 750 miles north, the Boulder, Colorado cyclists registered for the race probably wished Stage 1 had begun a week ahead of schedule.
By 9 p.m. this evening about five inches of snow had landed in Boulder with more expected overnight.
One thing Boulder and Silver City have in common right now is altitude. Boulder is just over a mile high at 5,430 feet, with Silver City at about 5,900 feet. Last year several riders from sea level felt the altitude in Silver City, saying they found it hard to breathe.
The elevation is just one of the difficulty factors in this tough five-day race. Every day except for the criterium stage downtown includes a good dose of uphill. The last stage isn’t called the “Gila Monster” for nothing. On that day riders climb 9,131 feet over 100 miles.
The Tour of the Gila, which runs from May 1 to May 5 this year, is great training for the Tour of California which begins a week later.
Tour of the Gila overall winners
2010: Levi Leipheimer, Mara Abbott
2011: Francisco Mancebo, Clara Huges
2012: Rory Sutherland, Kristin Armstrong
[Weather account on the morning after this piece was written, from the Daily Camera: "Boulder saw 10.2 inches of snow as of 7 a.m. today, bringing the total snowfall for the month of April to 46.2 inches, breaking the previous record of 44 set in 1957. Boulder also saw a record-low temperature of 20 degrees this morning, breaking the old record for April 23 of 22 degrees." Yep, bring on The Gila.]
The British in transition
One UK cycling legend prepares to retire while the only English rider to ever win the Tour de France prepares for the Giro d’Italia by racing the Giro del Trentino this week.
Six-time Olympic gold medalist and holder of eleven world titles, track star Sir Chris Hoy is expected to announce his retirement this week. A story from The Telegraph reflected on Hoy’s career.
“What will linger in the memory especially is not so much his lightning turn of speed, as the sense of inexorability, of inevitability, that he brought to the wooden boards. If you were competing against Sir Chris Hoy, you would lose – it was as simple as that.”
Reporters questioned the favorites, including Brad Wiggins of Sky, at the pre-race Giro del Trentino press conference. Wiggins indicated he wasn’t feeling up to par due to an unexplained “condition.”
A VeloNews story ended with the following:
“Before Wiggins left the room he made one thing clear: ‘Sky’s goal is to win this race. Whether that happens or not is another thing. I’d have a fantastic TV show if I could predict the future, but unfortunately I can’t.’”
A Greek in Roubaix
It’s been a season of firsts for Ioannis Tamouridis. When he joined Euskaltel Euskadi this year he became the first Greek rider ever on a Pro Tour team. He just completed his first Paris-Roubaix. Whenever he speaks, it’s clear he’s grateful for every minute on his bike.
“Roubaix is one of the races that every cyclist dream to race, it’s like one day race Tour de France. It’s the most difficult, demanding and exhausting race on the calendar and everyone want to come to the end. I was deeply touched when I passed the first pave and I almost was crying when I entered the velodrome. It was one of my best moments in my career.” – Ioannis Tamouridis, exactly as reported on Euskaltel Euskadi’s website.
A Belgian with long hair
Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda) references a slow motion video replay during the Amstel Gold Ardennes classic race. Teammate Johan Vansummeren’s hair escapes helmet boundaries.
The first thing you notice about a criterium is the riders’ speed, how they hold velocity through corners. Cars can’t negotiate the same turns at the racers’ twenty-seven mile-per-hour average speed.
My first criterium as a spectator was the Tour of Somerville on Memorial Day in 1999. Such an amazing introduction to criterium racing should have hooked me.
With a 70-plus year-old history, the central New Jersey race is rightly legendary. Past winners include Steve Bauer (1980), Davis Phinney (1984), Julian Dean (1996), and last year’s victor, Luke Keough of UnitedHealthcare. Eric Wohlberg, currently Performance Director for the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team, won in 1999. My friends and I had a photo taken with him.
Even as the speed of the pack amazed me, I left Somerville thinking “Eh. Kind of boring, around and around and around.”
Twelve years later I interviewed a Team Type 1 Development rider, Stradford Helms. He described criterium racing as very intense, with a focus on not wasting energy – sticking to the fast wheels ahead of you to maintain speed through turns.
“There’s mayhem, people going all over,” he said. “Staying near the front is super hard.”
Maybe, I thought, I’ve misjudged criteriums.
A couple of weeks ago I arrived at a local criterium near Boulder in Louisville, Colorado just in time for the start of the cat 3 race. It woke me up to the beauty of criterium racing.
The gust of wind that blows back your hair accompanied by a steely freewheeling buzz each time the pack passes.
The ever-changing slinky shape of the riders. Now compact. Now strung out. Leaders changing almost every two minute 0.7 mile lap.
Verbal and eyeballs-only conversations from groups of two or three in a break-away or within the pack. Plotting. Checking in. Lying about what’s left in the tank.
The look back of riders off the front. What’s the gap. Anyone trying to chase? Calculating chances to stay away and win.
The Louisville cat 3 race had it all, with the added bonus of second and third place finishers about one-half as old as the winner.
Here’s a pictorial replay.