Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
The Milledgeville Bicycle Club and the Milledgeville-Baldwin Habitat for Humanity partnered for a third consecutive year for the Red Clay Ramble. The 2015 edition of the RCR brought on the addition of a new partner, Chain Buster Productions and a few minor changes, most notably being the course direction. The Red Clay Ramble offers a 56 mile race, and non-competitive rides with suitable distances for Gravel newbies and veterans.
Various members of the “Cast” of Gravel Cyclist have traveled to gravel races and events, but the Red Clay Ramble has now been tagged as the first race attended by the GravelCyclist.com team. While JOM was off on another gravel mission and the whereabouts (excuses/commitments) of KDogg and Dr. Pain are unknown, Jimbo, Pfaff Daddy and The Headmaster (aka Rusty) made the journey to Middle Georgia. One other known Florida rider and “Cast” member made the trip, Pfaff Junior (the son of Pfaff Daddy).
The trip to Middle Georgia was uneventful for you the reader, but for me it was momentous. My first encounter with Jimbo was almost 30 years ago, when I was beginning my conversion to bicycle racing. A small number of riders from Ocala, Florida would travel to Gainesville, Florida and head out from a local shop where Jimbo worked. As I became a regular on the Tuesday night ride and the early season Saturday rides, I soon learned that Jimbo was one of the top amateur road racers in Florida and the Southeast. Fast forward to 2015 and where do I find myself now, on a team with Jimbo thanks to the Gravel Scene.
Two suitable replacements for tribal knowledge are information from teammates and a pre-ride of the course. Jimbo and JOM provided the necessary gearing information and we all arrived with enough time to ride the last 7.5 miles. A light rain prior to our pre-ride provided just enough moisture to invoke comments amongst the four of us regarding the wet Georgia clay under our saddles and running down our seatposts.
Saw the chances of rain disappear, some much welcomed cloud cover, with humidity percentages that could easily be measured by a conventional rain gauge. The number of racers almost doubled from the previous year with a total of 75. Even though Jimbo made the comment of the day, “no race is won in the first few miles,” I took advantage of the laid back atmosphere and secured a spot right on the start/finish line.
The loud speaker horn sounded and we were off. Absent from the start of this race were immediate attacks. The pace was high but everyone seemed content to refrain from launching futile attacks. Such restraint suited my plan. While my legs felt good I decided early on stay near the front, read the other riders, and wait for the course to take its toll. Approximately eight miles in and Jimbo decided it was time to get down to business. The gap he opened resulted in little impact and it’s a tossup whether he was reeled in or he began to soft pedal his way back to the group.
Pfaff Junior made an attack and was quickly able to open a sizable gap. The pace was lifted and he was soon brought back. Within the next mile a rider I had not yet seen on the front, Will Eustace, made a noticeable acceleration up one of the hills. Seeing him for the first time and the reaction of the other riders signaled he was one to watch.
Various attacks continued thanks to Pfaff Junior and Will. Occasionally, the two of them would team up but each time they were chased down. At 23 miles in, Jake Andrews attacked and opened enough of a gap that Pfaff Junior decided it was worth the effort to bridge up. Will took off after the duo and the obvious reaction from the group was to follow suit. I was content to fall in line and catch a free ride up to Will until it became obvious he was pulling away. Enough was enough and I soloed up to Will and joined him in the chase for the two leaders. Working together we were successful, and as fortune would have it, the four of us pulled away from the main group.
The four of us each took our turns on the front until for an unknown reason, Jake, stayed on the back with just over 20 miles remaining. Shortly after, Will took off while yours truly was on the front. Neglecting to even consider relying on my other two companions to close the gap, I stayed on the front. Pfaff Junior and Jake did exactly what they should have and chased down Will, leaving me to my own accord.
20 Miles of Eternity
Not knowing how far behind the next group was or the hills that lay ahead, I knew what I had to do. Each hill and the burning sensation in my legs tested my fortitude – about 2 miles from the finish I heard what I was trying to avoid – the acknowledgment from the chasing group that I was in their sight. With about a half a mile remaining, the chase group began attacking each other and one by one passed me on their way to the finish line.
Results and Thanks
Finishing 4th in his age group (50+) and 12th overall, Jimbo rode this years Ramble in sub-three hours. Pfaff Daddy won the flat tire badge for the day. A tubeless tire leak prompted the need for a tube. Unfortunately, he was the victim of three flats. Regardless, he still maintained a fast pace and finished strong.
The Open Men’s race and 1st Overall was won by Pfaff Junior, aka Justin Pfaff. Note from JOM: We really need to get him a Gravel Cyclist kit for these races!!
The Milledgeville Bicycle Club, Milledgeville-Baldwin Habitat for Humanity, and Chain Buster Productions teamed together for a smashing gravel event. The Red Clay Ramble is one that any gravel rider, recreation or racer, in the Southeast needs to calendar for 2016.
Note from JOM: Rusty of Gravel Cyclist took 3rd in his age group (50+). He’s rather modest.
Gravel Cyclist’s race video, from the camera lens of Rusty Dosh, is coming…