Doctor Answers the Call – BikeJam

1 06 2011

Photo Credit: Jim Wilson Images

This weekend some of the Bike Doctor racing team made their way to Baltimore for the Kelly Benefit Strategies BikeJam Criterium. This race usually puts people a little on edge because of the funky roundabouts, especially the backstretch chicane leading to the uphill finish and the occasional rock one has to dodge from some of spectators. The weather was a touch on the warm side with some wind blowing into the riders faces on the backstretch.

The team fielded 4 riders for the Category 3/4 race. They were Todd “Doc” Bickling, Rob “Wrob” Hampton, Cliff C., and Brian “Sobe” Sjoberg. With the field being in excess of 80 riders the guys were going for a defensive strategy versus the last couple of races where they had significant numbers and could be pretty aggressive. The plan was to sit near the front, stay out of trouble and just monitor for dangerous breaks and maybe snag a preme if the opportunity presented itself.

For the first 10 laps, the team was near the front and stayed safe. With 10 to go a preme was rung and Sobe decided it was time to test the legs. Two guys had a small gap going down the backstretch and Sobe shot down the left side and joined them briefly. He got back on the gas and rounded the backstretch corner, passing the two guys and shot out of the chicane with a good gap. He continued cruising up the finishing hill and took the preme and sat up to save something for the finish.

Sobe breakaway attempt with 1 lap to goPhoto Credit: Jim Wilson Images

Another 5 laps went by with nothing significant up the road. With 5 to go Todd bridged up to another rider but came back a lap later. With 2 to go the field was starting to lull and let one rider cruise away. Brian decided it was time to throttle up and bridge to the lone rider. Similar to the preme, he rode around the rider before the backstretch chicane and then continued pulling up the hill. Unfortunately when he got to the top of the hill and made it around the first turn he no longer had a companion. This was bell lap and the pack was chasing hard.

Brian sat up and looked to be checking out but then was revitalized when Doc Bickling called out that he was ready to go. Lead out time!! Brian and Todd linked up and were in good position coming out of the backstretch chicane. They were about 5-6 riders back. Brian started winding things up just before the final bend, past a couple of riders and then Todd took off like a bottle rocket up the left hand side, passing 2 more riders and just barely missing 2nd place. So Doc finished 3rd and Brian managed to hang on to 8th.

Definitely a successful race when we only had 4 riders in a field of 80+.

Next the boys in red and black lined up for the Masters 35+ combined race. The team added two more (Steve Fife, Jim “Forget these crits, I am doing RAAM” Weinstein) from the original cast but lost one (Doc). This race had a 60+ riders, with good representation from Battley/Harley, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Clean Currents and NCVC. Pre-race strategy was stay close to the front and watch for significant moves. There were some solid teams here and breakaway chances would be high.

Early on the team was pretty active on the front. Sobe decided to make a move off the front about 5 laps in. He was solo for a half lap and then was joined by 4 others.  They stayed out for a couple of laps, aided by some well executed blocking tactics by the fellas that were in the field but came back eventually.

Around 8 to go a dangerous group was up the road. Fortunately Harley had missed it and was forced to chase it down. Right as the group came back, Nima, who had been in the front group, took off with two other guys and quickly got 25 seconds. At first it looked like the race was over but things started to get organized around 5 to go. Cliff put in a good effort to nail back some time on the break. Then Sobe went to the front and got back a few more seconds. With 2 to go the breakaway had a crash at the top of the hill that eliminated Nima and Kevin Cross (Haymarket).

Jim and Sobe found each other with 2 to go and started moving up. As they came up the finish hill for bell lap, Jim knew he needed to move up and started to gain some position up the left side, Sobe saw this and started to move up as well. Right then the ever familiar sound of a flatting tire screamed from one of Jim’s wheels. Ouch, there went our sprinter. Sobe assumed the unfamiliar roll of sprinter and dug in. It was fast on the back stretch and after the chicane he lost a few spots but managed 11th place.

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