Zirbel shares championship cycling style with hometown


Bicycle, Blues, BBQ event brings out competitors and fans in big numbers

It’s hard to top winning a National Championship, but Tom Zirbel said cycling in his hometown, with family and friends cheering him on made the Bicycle, Blues & BBQ weekend pretty sweet.


Zirbel was among hundreds of cyclists who filled Clear Lake Friday through Sunday competing in a variety of events. 

Rain threatened Saturday’s time trials and Criterium races downtown.  Officials delayed the start just one-half hour, then racing began through wet streets, often in steady showers.  Volunteers stationed along the route quickly used brooms to sweep standing water from the road before and after cyclists passed.

Although the crowds were big and cheered all racers, they were especially supportive of Zirbel, the hometown boy who captured a long sought after National Championship in Chattanooga, Tenn. this spring.   The achievement was something Zirbel has had on his “to-do” list for some time.  He had been close to the podium in the past and had to fight battles on many fronts in his pursuit of a cycling career, including a controversial doping suspension in 2009, which was subsequently reduced.

Saturday, wearing his blue national championship jersey, Zirbel won his time trial.  In the Saturday evening Criterium race he found himself boxed in during a frenzied finish and placed third.

“I’m just having a great time riding right now,” said Zirbel.  “I’ve relaxed more this year and I’m letting it flow.  That seems to have taken the pressure down a notch and it’s allowing me to race at my potential.”

Bicycle, Blues, BBQ event director Tim Putnam, said approximately 275 cyclists competed in the races.  The wet weather may have contributed to a couple of minor crashes Saturday.  Sunday a crash occurred in the Cat 5 (newer Racers) and the lead racer in the Pro 1/2 field crashed in the last 400 meters due to a mechanical issue. Only minor injuries were reported.

According to Putnam, two racers were transported to the hospital Sunday.  Reportedly a blown tire caused a chain reaction among cyclists and sent at least three to the pavement.  One racer was released from the hospital Sunday, while another was released Tuesday after - Read More Via e-Edition

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