Hincapie was going to be one helluva season capper. I know the big Tryon and Saluda climbs well, and knew that it would be a quad crusher. Injuries ended my season earlier than I had preferred, and it was a bummer to have skip this event. Since we had made accommodations at a nice Greenville hotel, my wife and I decided to make a weekend of it anyway. I drove up Saturday morning to Les Domestiques to check everything out, see some familiar faces, and see everyone off.
What I didn’t expect was the temperature. It was freezing, literally. As I drove towards the event, I noticed the temperature gauge in my car ticking downward. It was 29 degrees when I arrived, and would settle at 30 when the ride began.
Fortunately the sun was out. When I arrived it was hiding behind the mountains, but it crept higher before the ride. That gave the illusion of it being warm, even though it was pretty freaking cold.
As the callouts started, I made my way to the front to see George and friends. Despite the cold weather, they were in a playful and jovial mood. As Christian Vande Velde was introduced as this being his retirement ride, he emerged covered in heavy clothing from head to toe. George saw him and laughed. “Are you going cycling or skiing?” he joked.
There were numerous photo ops, and I was fortunate enough to be positioned near the front. Just before scooting off, they had everyone wave. That was a cool shot.
The ride begins going uphill. That’s the Vineyard climb, another one I know well. In most cases a big climb is not fun to begin a ride, but I have a feeling the riders appreciated the opportunity to warm up. There would be plenty more to come.
I believe the final count of registered riders was between 1,500 – 2,000. Some undoubtedly didn’t show due to the low temperatures, but there were probably close to 1,500 there.
Big George and Rich have put together the hallmark event in the North Greenville area. I appreciate all they do for this event and Greenville cycling in general. I’ll be there next year, and this time I mean it.
Here are several photos: