Race Report: Studio Tandem Team Takes the Rapha G-Race

On 21 May, the Studio Team was invited to participate in the 2011 Rapha Gentleman’s Race, which was held in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.  The bucolic vistas belied a grueling course, but the Studio Team’s Tandem Racers the, “52 Vincents” emerged victorious!

Winning this challenging race  was a feat in and of itself, made more remarkable by the fact that prior to the race, the team hadn’t even had the opportunity to train together.

The Studio would not have had this G-race in our, “win” column were it not for the initiative of John Bayley and Pamela Blalock.  John has been a member of RSC’s Enduro Team since its inception, and when he and Pamela approached us about putting together a tandem team, we jumped at the chance.  You may have noticed that the team name is unique: it comes from a Richard Thomas song , “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” one of John and Pamela’s favorite artists.  Since the Studio has a strong affinity for cafe racers, we thought the name was beyond cool and worked with the team to come up an equally classic logo for their jerseys.

The 52 Vincents consists of John and Pamela, Emily Lafferty and David Lafferty, and Todd Holland and Kristen Gohr.  Todd and Kristen had not ridden together until a few weeks before the race, but since both of them are accomplished athletes, when they were able to do a tandem 100+ mile training ride before the race, they killed it.  It turns out that this ride was an accurate indicator of the team’s race-day performance.

The total elevation for the race was 12,000 feet, and the course took the riders through super chunky gravel and deep dirt.  While the climbs were hugely challenging, the inevitable descents proved to be as harrowing, and it helped that each of the 52 Vincents had had experience controlling the bike on a steep descent.  Pamela describes the advantage of this experience in her race report:

"At one point, we caught the Los Pariahs team. This was the team we had been told had gone off-course and had taken various shortcuts. As we made our way through and around them, I realized how lucky we had been to not have lots of other riders around on some of the descents, since we could just let loose. I must say how truly great it is riding with other tandems of similar speed. There is nothing like hammering along in a rock-steady tandem paceline. Drafting singles while on a tandem doesn't work so well. Singles make little adjustments in speed that are just hard to do on a tandem. Tandems are all about momentum and speed. So we just had a blast roaring along together.”

The synergy that Pamela describes helped the 52 Vincents as they roared into the velodrome to complete the final lap of the race.  We’ll leave you with the Pamela’s carefully crafted couplets to describe the final moments of the race and how the 52 Vincents took the victory:

“Says John, in my opinion, there's nothing in this world Beats a gnarly descent and a nearly fearless girl Now Bicycling Magazine and Moots and Rapha Gents won't do They can't catch the tandems wearing Vincent 52 He reached for her hand and he slipped her the cue sheets He said I've got no further use for these I see angels on Sevens in lycra on the velodrome Swooping down the banks to carry us home And they rode one final lap and sighed And the 52 Vincents won the ride.

We couldn't have said it better--congrat's to the 52 Vincents!