Let’s play Jeopardy - The answer is “Physician Assistant: Bike Shop Girl: OSU Med Student.” If you guessed, “What are the day jobs for three of the fastest cyclists in Columbus?” give yourself a prize. Friendly, full of energy, and engaging Tori Steen, Meredith Gabriel and Allison Nuovo are three of the nicest people you could meet in Columbus. Seen together pedaling and talking together on the bike path, the trio seem to be out for an unassuming evening bike ride. Taking another glance though and the sharp looking sponsor-laden team outfits, the shiny carbon bikes that look fast even parked and the three sets of strong muscular calves reveal a now-obvious serious dedication to cycling.
On Sunday June 2, that same trio, along with hundreds of other local cyclists, will sprint around the streets of Franklinton claustrophobically elbow to elbow, cornering at precarious angles that should make average bike riders wince and at speeds often reaching over 30 mph for the inaugural Tour of Franklinton cycling race and rally.
There are many competitive disciplines in cycling. Road races (think Tour de France), mountain biking, short track, downhill, cyclocross; they are all on two wheels yet require vastly different rider skills and equipment. The Tour of Franklinton is a crit race, crit being short for criterium.
The Race course will snake around the closed streets surrounding the 400 Rich warehouse and the newly opened Rehab Tavern, including parts of State, Town and Rich streets. Racers, grouped by similar abilities, complete as many laps of the .8 mile course as they can in the allotted time, usually 30-60 minutes. At the end of the time, the first racer across the line wins.
Participation must create an unmatched adrenalin rush as clearly the sport is not without danger. Still, weekend after weekend, racers travel hours for the chance to line up against their competition. “I race because I love the purity of sport. Pushing yourself harder than you ever thought you could, leaving it all out on the course, that is what I want from competition.” said Allison.
“The strategy of bike racing is sometimes a little tough to understand,” explained Meredith. “In NASCAR, the car in front is the obvious leader. But so much energy on a bike is used battling wind resistance, the smartest and strongest racers are near the front but not in front.” Called drafting, racers hide from the wind and expend 30% less energy than the rider in front of them. “The rider who looks like they’re in first place,” continued Meredith, “is actually not in a very good position. It’s only at the very end that a rider will put their nose in the wind.” If the riders are bunched up, the pace is usually a bit relaxed. Racers riding in single file usually means the pace has increased. “Unless of course you’re Allison,” Tori added,”Then you just jump off the front of the group and try to blow everyone else away.” Allison agreed with that sentiment saying, “I would rather go all out, burn out, and finish last rather than play a game.”
The event runs from 10:30am-4:30pm with the start/finish line in front of 400 Rich. There is also a family-friendly bike rally with activities for kids 10 and under from Noon -3pm and the free kids “race” is at 3pm.
Bike Racer? Register here.
Events like run on volunteers. Lend a hand and sign up right here.