Chauner and Jack Simes III, both Olympic track cyclists at the time, inaugurated the Derby in 1976. The original poster boasts of "a chance to meet, talk and ride with many of the area's top racing cyclists." Today, the ride still lets hardy weekend warriors mingle with pro trackies, Olympians, and national champions from the United States and other countries.
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We crest the ride's one large roller, Topton Hill, then cut left onto narrow, twisting farm roads. Propelled by a strong tailwind, we rocket along the mostly flat run in. I get a bleary glance at my computer 37.5 mph. I drift off the back, glowing with exhaustion. "C'mon, 2 miles to go!" Pearson shouts into my ear as he fills the gap I open. I keep pedaling, desperately, and catch back on. There are only 11 of us left as the sprinters start to jockey for position.
We head out into the bucolic Pennsylvania countryside, sticking tightly to the two up formation even though the winding roads are little trafficked. Occasionally, the group splits down the center to avoid horse droppings from Mennonite buggies. The sky is clear, the air crisp and clean. The pack hums along in the low 20s, the mandated speed for the rollout that constitutes the first half of the Derby. After an optional shortcut for a pee break "If you take the longer route and look to your left, you see the backs of 40 guys lined up and silhouetted against the sky," says founder Dave Chauner the pack rejoins then makes a turn onto busy Fleetwood Lyons Road and the fireworks begin: an all out, 12 mile sprint back toward the velodrome.
Still highly feared in the final kick to the line, Pearson has been doing the Derby since its inception three decades years ago. But currently 27 year old Navigators sprinter Kyle Wamsley has been rattling off Derby wins like he's getting ready for the European Classics season which, in fact, he is.
pack turns left off the Air Max 90 360 busy street that fronts the velodrome, renowned custom frame builder Tom Kellogg is standing in front of a church, waving. When he doesn't do the Derby, he ducks out of church to offer his benediction.
There are 200 meters to go to the nondescript yellow sign that suddenly means everything. Wamsley, Pearson, and a few others lurch up over their bars, legs thundering to life. Wamsley wins. Again. But so do the happily exhausted amateurs who were blown out the back and straggle into the velodrome parking lot over the next quarter hour.
As if they were on a track, 50 or so cyclists are spinning around the Lehigh Valley Velodrome parking lot, in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, waiting for the call or, rather, the caw. At a couple minutes past 10, Paul Pearson's jaws stretch open and emit the earsplitting screech of a soaring hawk. The former pro known as The Animal has started Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Moire Qs - Deep Pewter / Black
Cyclists start filing out of the parking lot, forming themselves neatly into a double paceline. "Why a caw?" I ask Pearson "Because I can't whistle," he says. "I'm not sure what happens when I'm not here. I guess they just ride around in circles all morning."
As we turn the corner that starts the unofficial race, the group strings out and my shifter jams. An echelon forms at the front and we're averaging 30 mph as I'm stuck in the 16 Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential White
tooth cog, spinning furiously. I scramble to find the biggest draft and end up behind the hulking mound of muscle that is Olympic gold medalist Marty Nothstein. Recently retired from pro racing and full time competition, Nothstein used to reel off winning streaks at the Derby that spanned months. But it's Pearson, Simes tells me, who owns the all time wins record.
The snaking group rounds the first corner. Just before the Air Max 90 For Boys
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