In the shadow of the Colonial Life Arena deep in Gamecock territory the Vista Grand Prix in Columbia, South Carolina was one of the final races of the 2010 season.
Throughout the day rain had been a factor in the races. However for the main event of the day, the Pro 1/2/3 race, the rain stopped for good and the road was quickly drying.
A small field of racers lined up for the 60 minute criterium on a four right- hand corner course. The finishing straight was a slight gradient, while not steep, could be used as a launching pad for an attack.
Early in the race two riders escaped: Karl Kaiser (Outspokin Bicycles) quickly followed by Boyd Johnson of Globalbike. Johnson had just returned from five days of Interbike in Las Vegas. Kaiser had won the Masters race earlier in the day. So the question was – did these two riders have the strength to stay away?
Back in the peloton Johnson’s teammates kept any and all counter-moves in check. However Globalbike rider Noah Metzler’s SRAM rear shifter lever broke off forcing him into the neutral pit. Unable to fix the shift lever, Metzler was pushed back into the race a lap down with his chain stuck in the 12 tooth cog with his only shifting options either the small or big ring up front.
Up the road the time gap between the duo continued to steadily grow and it was apparent that Johnson and Kaiser were going to lap the field.
However caught in no man’s land was Jerry Charles, teammate of Kaiser, who attacked out of the pack and was now third on the road. He was riding with Noah who had been pushed back into the race but was a lap down and desperately trying to un-lap himself by catching the group in front. Both riders had different agendas (Charles trying to bridge up to his teammate and Metzler trying to reverse the damage of being delayed too long in the neutral pit) but needed to work together for their mutual benefit.
With 17 laps remaining Johnson and Kaiser caught the pack and the race winner was going to be either of these riders. Behind and just 20 seconds in arrears was Charles and Metzler still trying to make contact with the peloton.
Johnson and Kaiser only had to beat the other in order to secure the win. However with one and a half laps remaining Karl was dropped out of the pack. Up front Globalbike rider Josh Whitmore was pinning it at the front unaware that the Outspokin rider was no longer in the group. Karl had raced and won earlier in the Masters category and this earlier effort was catching up with him.
“I was tired with nine laps to go,” said Kaiser. “I just tried to keep it going”.
Coming around the final corner to the finish line the racers were fanned out across the road. Charging up the middle was Damien Dunn taking the field sprint for fourth and crossing the line in the middle of the bunch was a triumphant Johnson, punching the sky as he crossed the line. A few seconds later Kaiser crossed the line for second.
The duo of Noah and Charles didn’t catch the main group leaving Charles in third place on the day.
After the race Johnson explained his strategy.
“I saw Karl go and I know he’s a beast. If he can train for half an hour a day, he can win a pro/1/2 race. I knew that was my ticket to get away.”