Rider Diary: Greenville Para-Cycling Open, By Matt Bigos

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve done a blog. What can I say, 2012 was a season I’d like to forget to be totally honest. That said, lets move on to 2013 and a new season of racing and hopefully more blogs this year. Like I did in 2011, I’ll try and tell more of the travel story then just racing, sometimes just getting to a race and what happens along the way is much more interesting then the race itself.

Onto my latest event, The Greenville Para-Cycling Open. This served as a test event of sorts, Para Road Worlds will be held in Greenville in 2014 and I expect everyone to attend. It was also a selection event for a World Cup team that will be heading to Europe the end of May and my first UCI race since May of 2012, so I was a little nervous to be honest. My prep has been pretty good through most of the winter and local racing has been going well, but always a little jitters at the first big race of the season.

Traveling to the event was rather straight forward, well as straight forward as it seems to be for me. I had a tight layover in Houston on my way to Greenville that made me a little nervous about my bikes making the transfer. That concern went away quickly with the 30 minute delay waiting for the pilot to show up, followed by anger for another 30 minute delay for weather. Once I finally landed in Greenville it was a bit later then I had planned and getting out for a spin was out the window, so it was off to one of the best parts of being in the South, Cracker Barrel for dinner!

I had arrived with just one day to pre ride the course and get ready for racing, so I spent Friday riding the TT course a few times. For para racing it was a pretty technical course that I felt would suit me pretty good. After a few laps and some riding in the rain, I felt I had the course down and was wet enough for the day. Saturday was the Time Trial and things moved along quickly and before I knew it, it was race time. Now, anyone that knows me, knows I can do without time trials. But this being the US and all, most of selections for National Team stuff are based around the TT. So, I’ve been forced to work on my TT game more than I otherwise would. I felt pretty good from the start and was hoping that I’d have the legs to pick up the win. Well, it turns out I rode a really good TT, from a numbers standpoint, it was the second highest TT I’ve ever rode, but sometimes good isn’t good enough. Turns out Jaye, one of the Canadians had an amazing ride as well and took the win, but I’ll take second in a time trial.

Sunday brought my favorite day, the road race! Usually at para races, the fields are a few different disability classifications mixed together and scored separately. Well, in Greenville the Men 1-3 and Women 1-5 all started together and there was only one podium for the Men 1-3. That meant I was out gunned from the start, but who doesn’t like a challenge? Things started off rather controlled in the race for once for the first few kilometers. The pace slowly picked up as the race went on with myself and only about 4 or 5 others doing the majority of the work. Most people seemed content with just sitting in and not doing anything and any time a few of us would start picking the pace up in an effort to shred the field a little, someone would get in the rotation and screw things up. More than a few times I was heard yelling at someone to either pull or get out of the way. Finally on the last lap the pace got a little grippy but still not enough to drop that many people and it appeared the majority of the field was going to make it to the line for a bunch sprint. Right at one K to go, Jaye took a big dig to get off the front with a teammate helping him get up front and off he went. The field was quick to chase hard and he wasn’t able to get much of a gap, but then he hit a seam in a round about and hit the ground pretty hard. I was about 3 wheels behind him and hit the brakes pretty hard and almost went into the curb trying to stay upright. I ended up chasing back onto the field right at the line and was able to get 7th in the bunch, but more important to me was first in my category. The race was good test for me and it’s always nice to test your legs and see where you’re at, also it’s a satisfying thing to get done with a race and know that you were one of the ones that did some of the work instead of always just sitting in.

Now, most of my trips always seem to have something weird/odd that happens along the way. I’ve just come to accept this and try to roll with it. This trip was no acceptation in the weird department. Now, don’t read this as complaining. On Sunday night, I went down to the front desk to get a copy of the bill for my hotel. My friend Laura that is was racing had stayed with me, so we could split the cost. Well, the front desk told me there was no bill for me, that it had already been paid. She was as confused as me, but said to check back in the morning when the manager got in. Next morning I spoke with the manager and she said that a check had been mailed to the hotel with my name on it and the money was for my hotel room. She wouldn’t tell me exactly where it came from or much more, but said that it’s just easier to not ask questions. I spoke with the race promoter and a few others to see if anyone knew anything, and nothing. No one knows or has any clues. I guess it’s nice to have some great friends out there and to know there are still good people in the world. I just wish I knew who to thank. But whoever they are, hopefully they’ll read this.

That’s it for Greenville. I hung out for a few days after the racing instead of going back to California. I am sitting on a plane now headed to Montreal for another UCI race. Hopefully, I’ll try and get another blog up on the way home.

Thanks as always to everyone that follows along!

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