The City of Suffolk is a great place for a bike race. They are bike friendly, and they want races there. Three years ago a representative from Suffolk Parks and Recs contacted Don at All About Bikes about holding a crit in Downtown Suffolk. He gave that information to me. I met with the police and all the people responsible and it was determined that it couldn't happen at that time. There are too many churches and wedding season conflicts with cycling season. But they wanted us to show we could run a race and get people there. So they suggested Sleepy Hole Park.
In 1993 I moved to Virginia Beach from Hawaii. At the age of 17 I was excited to race with and against a larger pool of juniors. A race at Sleepy Hole Park was my very first race in this region. I lined up against Mike Tamayo, Tim Shockley, Jon Nisbet and one other racer from TBA also. I was the only one on a different team. They killed me. Attack after attack. After the race, I joined TBA. Here we are 17 years later and Mike, Tim, Jon and myself are still on the same team. So when we had the option to promote a race at Sleepy Hole, we jumped on it.
The course is great. Half mile course. The road surface is great. Its not smooth. It actually adds to the difficulty of the race. Its the type of surface you find in parks. A couple of roots pushing up on the edges and they type of paving is the type that's a little rough. The first turn is a fast 90 turn. Turn 2 is a nice bend, there really isn't a turn 3, it just bends around, and turn 4 is a nice bend also.
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This weekend the threat of rain was real and we were competing with some great NRC races in Baltimore. So I was not too sure how we would do. There seemed to be a dome built over the park this year. No rain until the very last race of the day. We had a pretty good turnout. Not the turnout we got in Smithfield, but it was good.
I raced the Cat 3 race with teammates Kevin Horvath, Mike Tamayo and John Gray. We had to work to chase some attacks down and even tried to make a move or two. Andy from Fat Frogs did a lot of work trying to control things. Careytown once again did a great job of attacking and making it a hard race. Greg Witter of Gam Jams was so strong it was sickening. He almost got away on lap number 1.
With 5 to go I started getting my guys on my wheel for a leadout. Kevin and Jon were there and Mike was right in front of me when I was going to pass him to get him on the train. Then in corner number 1, Robert Netcsh clipped a pedal and went down hard. He was near the front, no more free laps and it caused a gap. Mike was near the front and I was able to follow. We worked hard to keep with the front, but a smart move by Careytown made it hard. They got to the front and really picked up the pace. Mike faded and wasn't able to get on my wheel, Kevin still had it and I don't know where John was.
On the last lap I was in good position but not great. I wasn't able to move up to create the leadout. I did the best I could to give Kevin something. But I was only in the top 10 into the final corner. Kevin clipped out and I don't know how he managed to stay upright. I got 7th, Kevin 8th John 12th and Mike 15th. Tough race.
I then entered the Pro/1/2/3 with Kevin. We had both been at the course setting up and working since 6:30 am. I know I was spent. I only lasted around 10 laps before my chair under my tent started looking really good. Kevin lasted much longer than me but also pulled out before the end.
Chris Larkin represented us in the Cat 4 race where raced well and got 5th place.
Chris, Jon Nisbet and Mike Tamayo raced in the Master 30+/40+ race. This was the only race affected by rain. It started to rain just a few laps into it. The guys said the road was getting a little slick. Thunder was heard around us all day long but no lightning was seen, until this race. The racers were all told that the race could be shortened at anytime do to a lightening sighting. That's exactly what occurred.
Mike and Jon pulled out early due to conditions and Chris stayed in. When the bell was rung there was one rider in a solo break. Dan Netzer was riding strong but a hugely strong field now wanted the win on the last lap. Unfortunately for Dan he was a little confused by the sudden end of the race and didn't understand why there was so much excitement for a prime. He was so much in the zone that he didn't hear "last lap". He didn't sprint and only held on for second place. Chris managed to get a 7th place. He was in perfect position was pushed off the road slightly by a rider who took a turn too fast. Everyone stayed upright and we got packed up before the lightening hit near by.
Here are a couple of pictures taken from Facebook:
Photo by Tim Pope
Photo by Tim Pope
Photo by Robert Netsch. The one crash of the day. Hope you heal quickly.