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The 30-40 mile per hour wind gusts pushed on bikers like a bulldozer as they raced on Commerce Parkway.
As they veered left and crossed the road towards the Oldham County Health Department, the bikers launched down a steep hill into a wooded area, before sloshing through a muddy bog.
In the sixth leg of the eight-race mountain bike series, bikers raced 2.3 miles from La Grange Baptist Church on Commerce Parkway to the Oldham County Health Department and back to the walking trails around the Oldham County Public Library in La Grange.
The race combined more than a mile and a half of road racing with mulch-covered trails and muddy terrain.
Louisville’s Joe Driver finished back on top of the category three race after finishing as runner-up in the 5th race.
Driver took the Jan. 28 race in three laps and 29:54, bringing his series victory total to four.
“I was a little more conscious of what was around me and tried to make better decisions,” Driver said.
Crestwood’s Alan Keeling finished second in three laps and 30:06. He said he tried to draft behind Driver against the wind, but struggled to keep pace.
“You had to plan for the wind, because it’s such a long straight going out,” Keeling said. “The hardest part was conserving energy because you were in it all the time.”
Louisville’s Anthony Slowinski won his second straight category one race in five laps and 44:18.
Slowinski had close company for two laps from Louisville’s Nick Barbieri and Ray Smith. But the latter two fell behind on Commerce Parkway biking into the wind on the third lap.
“I wish I knew what happened,” Slowinski said. “We were all still together going into the second lap and then I pulled a gap towards the end of the lap. It was just smooth sailing from then out.”
Barbieri said he couldn’t keep up with Slowinski.
“He’s probably the strongest sprinter in the state,” Barbieri said. “That’s hard to catch.”
With his win Saturday, Driver has clinched the category three series title, according to race organizer Jon Kindig.
For the final two races, Driver said he plans to bike against professionals in category one.
“It’s a big relief off my back to win, I’m not gonna lie,” he said. “I’m just ready for everybody to stop calling me a sandbagger and see I can race with the big guys.”
The series concludes with the final races Saturday and Feb. 25 in La Grange.
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