On June 7, the 30th Roan Groan will see 400 or more cyclists measure themselves against each other and Roan Mountain as part of the June 7-8 Johnson City Omnium.
The race will be ridden by first-time riders as well as professionals who will be competing for their share of the over $12,000 purse.
The JC Omnium included the Roan Groan as the road race component beginning in 2006, though the Roan Groan was begun in 1985. Since its beginning, it has been sponsored every year by Nor-Well. Gary Nave of Nor-Well sponsored the first sanctioning of a previously informal race up Roan Mountain and his 30-year commitment has made it possible for the Groan to become the oldest continuous sanctioned race in Tennessee.
Rex Martin, formerly of Johnson City who now lives in Davenport, Fla., has participated every year for the last eight years in the Roan Groan. He raced a total of 12 of the last 29 Roan Groans, and it's likely he holds the record of most Roan Groan competitions. Martin said he would be here this year also.
The Tupelo Honey Roan Groan will start at Cat Island Park in Elizabethton at 9 a.m. with the professional 1, 2 category, the first of seven groups. The first three groups will follow a 55-mile course, finishing with the 7.25-mile climb up Roan Mountain. The other four groups will take a shorter 30-mile course with the same finish climb. The racers will affect but not stop the vehicle traffic on 19 E. Simerley Creek, Route 107, Sciota Road, Dry Creek, Gap Creek and Route 143.
That afternoon the same racers will compete individually against the clock in the Tupelo Honey Time Trial on Temple Hill Road in Erwin. The Time Trial will start at 5 p.m. with the last racer off about 7:30 p.m.
The final chance to win points in the three-stage race is the Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium on Blue Plum Sunday. Races begin at 8 a.m.; the professional race begins at 2:30 p.m. Some riders will be vying to win the criterium race while others will be competing strategically for the overall win.
The high speeds and closeness to the spectators gets the crowds excited, which in turn motivates the racers. Some people come for the crafts and food but then get fully involved in the races.
Just before the Pro race the Tupelo Honey Kids Fun Race will give ages 10 and under kids an opportunity to ride the same course as the professionals. From these, perhaps, will come future Olympians.
Full details at www.pcpomni.wordpress.com.
The JC Omnium's high level of competition results from working the sponsors Franklin Woods Community Hospital, Tupelo Honey Cafe, Donate Life Tennessee, Nor-Well, Northeast State, Renasant Bank, Holiday Inn and WCYB News 5.
(Information from Reneau Dubberley)