Photo Credit James Gann
By Curtis Luckett
Saturday was the vaunted Tour de Hills (TdH) over in Harrison, Arkansas. The P1/2 field was small with only 11 starters. We (Fayetteville Wheelmen) had 6 guys start, with Mercy out of Springfield having 3 starters themselves. We were riding for our climbers Gerald Drummond and Johnny Purvis. The TdH course is unique in that it has two big climbs, but 20+ miles of rolling terrain after you crest the final climb. The other large tactical hurdle was the presence of Evan East (Hincapie). Evan is a very talented young rider from Little Rock that is always tough to beat at these local races.
I attacked as soon as the neutral section ended. We wanted to get a guy or two up the road early for 2 reasons. First, and most important, to make Mercy and Evan chase while Gerald and Johnny got to sit on. Secondly, if the break could get over the final climb before getting caught, an extra teammate or two would be a great asset to our climbers on the 20 or so miles of rolling terrain going into the finish. When some initial reshuffling was finished Richard Holt (Three Happy Cows) and I had a gap. We started working hard on the way out of Harrison trying to solidify our gap. Both of us knew our only chance was to get several minutes before the two big climbs started. Behind us my teammates started throwing in attacks in attempts to disorganize and wear out the chasers.
Photo Credit Holly Kidder
Upfront Richard and I were giving it our all. Coming in to the first, and smallest, climb of the day (Pruitt) we hit some twisty sections of road and for the first time couldn’t see the chasers. For a brief moment there, I think we both thought that we were getting a longer leash from the main group. However, on the initial slopes of Pruitt we saw a small group being lead my Evan coming up rapidly. We kept the pace high as we knew we would need to make it to the top before getting caught or our day would be over. The elite group made the juncture right as we crested Pruitt and started our descent towards Jasper. The break lasted 37 grueling minutes, in which I averaged 315w and 24.8 mph to the base of the first climb.
The eleven man field was now down to 8. Mercy had lost all but one of their riders in the chase. On the initial slopes of Mt. Sherman, the group quickly started to disintegrate and it was soon just Evan, Gerald and Johnny. They crested the climb together and descended down to Ponca to begin the final climb of the day. Midway up the Ponca climb Evan put in a decisive attack that distanced both Fayetteville Wheelmen. Johnny tried to go after him, but couldn’t make it up to the Hincapie rider. Evan crested the climb 50 seconds ahead of the Fayetteville Wheelmen duo.
Photo Credit Holly Kidder
Johnny and Gerald decided with 20+ miles to go it would be better to stay together work as a tandem to chase down Evan on the rollers following the summit of the Ponca climb. However, between a stiff tailwind and a powerful leader the race was all but over. Behind there were some shattered souls. The best place Mercy rider was solo in 4th, while Luis Galivez was a minute behind him, also chasing solo. Richard, Jake Schneidewind and I were all riding together, more in survival mode than anything else. Evan held his gap coming back in to Harrison while Gerald and Johnny rounded out the podium.
After the race the race organizers treated us to free pizza and snacks. It is always a cool experience to get a chance to sit down and decompress after racing with guys from other teams and towns.
My Stats (71kg)
Time: 2hrs 51 min
Normalized Power: 286w
Average Power: 259w
Total energy: 2652kj (10 slices of free pizza)
Great report, thanks for the share.
Loving these race reports! The power numbers are cool too. It’s nice to see what it takes to race at that level.
Curtiss, thank you for the race reports. Wish I would have gone….