Tour of the Southern Highlands - Race Review and BIKES!!!!!

Ever since I heard we were having a stage race locally I was excited. I've done full omniums, and that gives a very similar experience. But a big difference is guys will do a single race with fresh legs, and that makes it extra difficult for guys who have been racing for a day or two. Alternatively, omniums are nice if you can't commit an entire weekend to bike racing. So it's kind of a win/lose/win/win/lose sort of thing.

Regardless, Tour of the Southern Highlands, put on by Dingo Race Productions, was my first stage race. No day of registrations, if you didn't complete a stage or if you came in 25% less time than the stage winner you could not advance. There was a yellow jersey for the General Classification leader, a polka dot jersey for the KOM leader, and a green jersey for the Points leader. A proper stage race.

Tour of the Southern Highlands is the evolution of Gainesville Gran Prix, which was an omnium held for the past three years. It's known as a hilly race, and the Tour used the same Circuit and Road Race course as the GGP (though the first year had a different RR course).

The first stage was a Merckx style time trial. I like time trialing, but don't train TT on my road bike so I didn't do as well as I'd like - down by about 1:30 from the race leader. So my GC chances were pretty much over at that point, and anyway my main season goal is to get results to cat up.

Dingo always does a great job with TTs - they have an awesome ramp, the time is clearly visible from far away, the course is very well marked, including 1KM to go markers. For the road races the turns were very clearly marked and marshalled, with police at larger intersections, and 1KM, 500M and 200M distances were marked. There were generous barriers at the start/finish lines. These are the sorts of details that make all the difference in a race.

The TT start.

The TT start.

Close up of the TT ramp.

Close up of the TT ramp.

Everyone lining up for the TT. There were hundreds of racers.

Everyone lining up for the TT. There were hundreds of racers.

For stage two you had to sign in beforehand, as well as for stage three (but not register). So pro. Stage two was a circuit race with a climb in the middle of the lap, which generally breaks things up.

Not the level of the TDF, but pretty cool!

Not the level of the TDF, but pretty cool!

So we all warmed up, and then went to staging to wait for our race to start. And waited. And waited. This was the only hiccup in the entire event. Both the circuit race and road race started quite late. The Circuit race started about an hour late, and the road race started about an hour and 40 minutes late. Races are tough to put on, and considering that everything else went smoothly (and that generally most races end up running late it seems like), I'm chalking it up to a learning curve in putting on a stage race. If I have to wait a little bit in order to have a stage race in Georgia, I'm happy waiting.

Overall the competition was strong in all categories, the weather was excellent, and I had a great time. That said, here are some of the bikes, kit and racers from the races - enjoy!

Understated bike makes the statement "I LET MY LEGS DO THE STATING."

Understated bike makes the statement "I LET MY LEGS DO THE STATING."

The banding on these Ridley's give a classic look.

The banding on these Ridley's give a classic look.

Martindale wheels? Never heard of them BUT THEY LOOK HOT.

Martindale wheels? Never heard of them BUT THEY LOOK HOT.

Pro team Team Arapahoe Resources was rocking this Garneau bike - didn't know you could get a Garneau bike ...

Pro team Team Arapahoe Resources was rocking this Garneau bike - didn't know you could get a Garneau bike ...

Frame with paint sanded off. Not sure what frame this is - the front fork looks distinctive, and there is a clamp on front derailleur. Looks like carbon fiber. Dunno.

Frame with paint sanded off. Not sure what frame this is - the front fork looks distinctive, and there is a clamp on front derailleur. Looks like carbon fiber. Dunno.

Another understated bike, this time a Giant.

Another understated bike, this time a Giant.

Wait, whaaaaaaa? Yup, one of the super strong Snyder Bikes Cat 3 racers was competing on a CAD1 Cannondale. No prob.

Wait, whaaaaaaa? Yup, one of the super strong Snyder Bikes Cat 3 racers was competing on a CAD1 Cannondale. No prob.

Really digging the Ridley team's fluo camo kit this year.

Really digging the Ridley team's fluo camo kit this year.

P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

More: P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

More: P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

More: P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

More: P/1/2 finishing the Merckx Time Trial.

These wheels look like they're pushing the limit. I believe the UCI limit is 80mm rims.

These wheels look like they're pushing the limit. I believe the UCI limit is 80mm rims.

More P/1/2.

More P/1/2.

Diamondback bikes: I like.

Diamondback bikes: I like.

I don't know what it is about LOOK bikes, but I like them. I don't like how some of their integrated components look, and how some of their bikes have a top tube that goes into the stem, but the bikes they make like this one? HOT.

I don't know what it is about LOOK bikes, but I like them. I don't like how some of their integrated components look, and how some of their bikes have a top tube that goes into the stem, but the bikes they make like this one? HOT.

OOOOPH THAT SPRINT.

OOOOPH THAT SPRINT.

I'm tired just looking at how hard this guys went after this line.

I'm tired just looking at how hard this guys went after this line.

Warmup for the circuit race.

Warmup for the circuit race.

More understated bike. This one with SRAM TT Chainrings. I LIKE THESE CHAINRINGS.

More understated bike. This one with SRAM TT Chainrings. I LIKE THESE CHAINRINGS.

Ladies bike, nice almost blingy blue.

Ladies bike, nice almost blingy blue.

I like the fat carbon weave pattern on these Felts. Also, looks like a TT saddle. Many bikes had little adjustments to be as TT-ready as possible.

I like the fat carbon weave pattern on these Felts. Also, looks like a TT saddle. Many bikes had little adjustments to be as TT-ready as possible.

Oldie Goldie.

Oldie Goldie.

Always happy seeing a CAAD10. Also saw at least two P/1/2s racing the high end CAAD12s.

Always happy seeing a CAAD10. Also saw at least two P/1/2s racing the high end CAAD12s.

Stage Three Road Race, looking down at the finish line.

Stage Three Road Race, looking down at the finish line.

Who's bike and pit wheel? Yours truly! (why did you leave your bike on the ground bro?)

Who's bike and pit wheel? Yours truly! (why did you leave your bike on the ground bro?)

P/1/2 feedzone - the polka dot KOM jersey coming through in a breakaway.

P/1/2 feedzone - the polka dot KOM jersey coming through in a breakaway.

More P/1/2 breakaway riders in the feedzone. Lots of bottles get dropped, thrown, etc. Dehydrated guys who don't have any team support begging for bottles. It's kinda a hectic place to be.

More P/1/2 breakaway riders in the feedzone. Lots of bottles get dropped, thrown, etc. Dehydrated guys who don't have any team support begging for bottles. It's kinda a hectic place to be.

CIPOLLINI! I like your bikes, Cipollini, but where can one buy one?

CIPOLLINI! I like your bikes, Cipollini, but where can one buy one?

More P/1/2 feedzone.

More P/1/2 feedzone.

More P/1/2 feedzone.

More P/1/2 feedzone.