The Berry Peddler was a staple on the TBRA (Tennessee Bicycle Racing Association) calendar for years but had taken a several year hiatius until May 12, 2012, when Ralph Schmook of Scenic City Velo in Chattanooga decided to resurrect this classic race. Ralph incorporated some great roads and climbs just north of Chattanooga in Dayton, Tennessee and LITESPEED-BMW’s TN rider, Chris Brown, was ready for the challenge as always.
The first race was the seventy-six mile road race featuring three climbs of around three miles each with a total of 4,500 feet of climbing for the day. A small group of riders started this race due to some other races taking place in the region and the lengthy climbing which drove fear into the hearts of others so they stayed away. The race rolled off and Chris’s main competition for the day was going to be the Friends of the Great Smokies (FGS) team as they had four riders that Chris would be contending with along with riders from Swiftwick Factory Racing, Texas Road House and Harper Auto/Knox Velo. Chris knew the attacks would come from FGS with Chris letting one rider, John Hart get up the road at about the thirty mile mark, as anytime Chris went with a FGS rider the move would just get chased back. Chris kept an eye on the gap that John attained, which at most was a minute and a half, and eventually Chris was in a small “chase” group with an FSG rider sitting on and a Texas Road House and Harper Auto rider also barely doing any work to help try to keep John Hart in check or bring him back. Thus this “chase” was basically Chris doing a load of work on the front to bring John back, and with unfavorable wind conditions when Chris tried to get away, whether on one of the climbs or rollers, the others would be able to get on his wheel. Eventually John Hart was caught with two and a half miles to go (hell of an effort John!) and Chris was ready for attacks and/or a sprint finish – which he still felt confident in against the three riders he had pulled around. Unfortunately Chris let the Harper Auto rider get a small gap near the end and expecting the others to chase since they were fresher but they all looked to Chris still. But it was too late, Chris sprinted to 2nd place after a long day of chasing in the wind. Good ride Chris, next time just put the others in the gutter, crush it, and see what happens!
Later that afternoon was a seven mile time trial. Time trials are not the most exciting events to watch or report on but Chris rode as hard and as aerodynamically as he could to finish 2nd. John Hart of the Friends of the Great Smokes team, who is the defending Tennessee state time trial champion, took the win by eight seconds. Good work to Chris and John as they each came to race hard in both races.