Photo Credit James Gann
By Curtis Luckett
Well, Joe Martin. There is no denying that this local stage race is anything but a heartbreaker. Ever since I’ve moved to Northwest Arkansas I’ve seen several talented riders build up for this race and promptly get chewed up and spit out. Simply put Joe Martin is a meat grinder for the dreams of talented local riders. This year Gerald Drummond stepped up to the plate and owned the fact that he was targeting the big, bad JMSR. We went into the race with Gerald in mind, but we had a couple of strong wildcards to play in the form of Johnny Purvis and Luis Galivez. Gerald rode himself into the top 15 during the time trial, averaging 400w for 9:45. Johnny also nailed the time trial sitting just 10 seconds back of Gerald.
With over 40 riders within 1 minute of the lead we knew Friday’s 110 mile stage would be pivotal. We had to protect Johnny and Gerald and Luis was going to try his hand at the stage win. The plan worked flawlessly…for the first 5 miles. Coming in to Farmington the sounds of carbon fiber hitting pavement and brake pads filled the air. I saw several Tulsa Tough riders go down, but couldn’t make out the rest of the 10 or so guys on the deck. I started rubbernecking around and all I could see was 30 other guys looking for their GC riders. About 2 minutes later an out of breath Gerald rides up next to me. He had gone down and had to chase back on (alone), my sheparding skills need work. The weather was nasty all day with pockets of rain and heavy wind gusts. The winds kept everyone on edge and the rain, well the rain just sucks for everyone. The wind was out of the south so when we turned on to 71, just south of Mountainburg, the race got fast. Going into the base of the climb the speeds were hovering around 34-35 mph as the fight for position was on. On the slopes of Gaylor the tailwind kept the group together, which meant that 80+ guys thought they had a chance to win a stage of Joe Martin. As expected the finale was chaotic as a rider at the front slid out on the wet roads coming in to town, I made it safely around and coming over the West St. hill and in to the base of Dickson St. the pace was fierce (1 minute at 595 watts). We didn’t get any real results on the stage, but Gerald and Johnny held on to good GC spots.
Saturday was noticeably harder than Friday, yet uneventful. The steepness of ‘the wall’ and its ensuing false flat were hard, but the winds were the decider. Coming in to the finish Johnny got caught up in a crash, losing his GC hopes. However, Gerald made it through unscathed and moved up to 12th in GC.
The Sunday stage was short (only 50 minutes) which I thought was a blessing. Joe Martin had beaten me up and I was starting to notice the fatigue. Little did I know that the duration of the stage would lead to a blazing fast speed (slightly faster than the Pro Men). I was spit out of the crit after 20 minutes. Anyone who has done the Joe Martin crit knows how important it is to ride at the front. On the third time down Dickson St. I touched wheels with another rider. This spooked me a bit and before I got my bearings I was 80 guys back. I tried not to panic, but deep down I new my laps were numbered as guys were getting shed left and right. Sure enough I lost contact eventually, but a bacon hand up from the Church St. crew made the pain go away. Gerald, Johnny and Luis all hung in there for the entirety of the race. Gerald ended up 13th on GC, only 50 seconds back of the winner, Arkansas resident Evan East.
Joe Martin is simply different, the rules that apply to normal racing are bent. For example we were coming through Greenland, and I was sure that the 32 mph speed would inhibit any breakaways from forming. I was dead wrong, as that was the deciding moment in the race. Evan East got away there, securing himself 30 seconds and the overall win. There are dozens of bike racing clichés, and in Joe Martin the only thing that you can expect is the unexpected. On Friday I got to see Ryan Gabriel (Tulsa Tough) get put into the ditch at 30+ mph and ride it out. Also it was cool/scary to see 100 dudes ‘big ring’ Gaylor. Saturday brought the most hectic neutral miles of my life, having to lock up the brakes a few times. Sunday was marked by big crowds and the most enthusiasm for bike racing I’ve seen in Fayetteville.
Footnote – I won’t bore you with a bunch of power data, but I burned 8000 calories doing JMSR. This is the equivalent to a gallon of ice cream and a case of beer, coincidentally that’s all I have in the kitchen right now…
‘big ringing’ Gaylor…that’s SICK. Nice write up for those of us who couldn’t make it out to spectate!
I was the one cheering you all on as you big ringed it up Gaylor, great efforts by all!
Nice job and good read..
Enjoyed reading your recap!
Very nice write up! (But what does GC stand for?)
Great question Caroline. It stands for General Classification. So he is referring to the overall ranking which is based on the time accumulated to finish each event. That is how they get the overall winner at the end of all the races.