Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race 2017: lots of rain, lots of flooding (and a reroute), but still a good time

Jeff 2nd place cat 5 Aaron Shafer Race in 2016

Jeff had talked about the Aaron Shafer Memorial Road Race last year and how much fun it was. Jeff was 2nd place in cat 5 men last year. I did not think I would be able to go due to working, but had a last minute swap request for a friend’s birthday! Of course! I’ll swap Saturday for Sunday easily! Jeff had a really cool last minute photo finish between him and 3rd place – a close finish! I can’t find the picture today, but may try to find it sometime to update this post.







Lots of fog up ahead near the storm

The day started with me driving a separate car because we had to take 2 bikes each: a TT and road bike. The weather looked nasty and tons of rain and thunderstorms in the forecast. I left around 6:30 AM EST and saw the clouds ahead up past Dunlap and into Spencer. I descended into clouds and fog and back out into Sparta where mother nature greeted me with lightning.








Some of the Scenic City Velo team (Taco Mamacitas and Village Volkswagen) were already there watching the rain fall standing under the awning in front of the old theater in downtown Sparta, TN. I picked up our numbers and set out to get things going.

There was a 30-minute delay. Luckily, I didn’t have cell phone service (GO SPRINT MOBILE!) so I could not stress about the weather.

We had our assignments as a team and set out after warm up to the start line. At the start line we learned that the course had been changed due to flooding; it had actually been raining a lot for hours and the Mill Creek Climb would be rerouted to the Calf Killer Climb which would add on 6 more miles and add in more climbing to the tune of a 3 mile steady climb:

See that beautiful climb there?

Here’s a close up of the climb itself. It really helped when one of the volunteers for the race told me that I only had 1.4 miles or so to go to climb. I just kept that in mind while I kept the pace I was going. Staying around a magic number in my head and just settling into the pain and thinking about a couple of songs I like, lamaze breathing again, and thinking about how I’m not a climber, but can I possible just keep a teammate in my sights and chase? I passed a Village Volkswagen kitted friend. But, truthfully that climb was just terrible.

It made me think that I don’t want to do River Gorge.

It made me think that I don’t want to do Big Frog, especially after my little girl had a talk with me. I’m spread too thin.

The less blood that goes to the brain means that I think more clearly, or rather the logic is completely removed and it is my basic fight or flight feelings. Simple as that. I also did some praying. I mean, it’s pretty dumb to cycle in lightning in my opinion, and I needed some angels to protect me. I had good stoppage with the aluminum wheels rather than my light carbon wheels, but… what goes up must come down.

At the top of the crest of the climb I saw KK. I aim to serve the team and told her whatever I need to do to help chase down or whatever, I am here. Wish I was stronger to make things really happen. I’d love to chase down a lead group one day and CATCH them. It must be hard to do. We had another teammate from NLC and picked up EB (a teammate of mine) thereafter. We worked together until the end and set up KK to sprint for the 4th place finish. I was happy to get 3rd in my cat. Happy the TT was canceled due to rain. Happy I didn’t wreck until the end when I slid near my car like I was sliding into home plate with my TT bike. Fun, embarrassing times.

Here’s the chasing group finish with KK 4th, NLC lady 5th, me 6th, and EB is behind me 7th. I would have liked a burst in the end, but I laid it all out earlier. There wasn’t much left.