2006 USPRO…2

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Erik Saunders and Saul Raisin | 09.03.2006: Saul Raisin vowed to return to Greenville next year not as a spectator, but as a participant in the US Professional Cycling Championships. If the rest of his body bounces back as well as his sense of hearing, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in 2007. While we were enjoying some drinks in the Hilton bar’s outdoor patio Saturday evening, a vehicle rolled up to the main hotel entrance with a pair of high-end Looks on the roof rack. Out of the passenger seat stepped a young man who proceeded to make his way towards the Hilton’s sliding door about 50 meters away from our vantage point. I said to my wife and the other folks at our table (at a normal conversational level which didn’t seem likely to carry beyond my immediate party), “Hey, that looks like Saul Raisin”. Nary more than a microsecond later, the person in question altered his path to our table and replied “Hi, I’m Saul Raisin. I believe somebody over here said my name”. He introduced himself to everyone at our table, asked where we were from, and chatted with us for a few minutes about the course, his approval of an all-American race, and the likely outcome to the following day’s event. I must admit, I thought his predictions about the extreme devastation the course would inflict seemed overly pessimistic, but the race results certainly lent credence to his prognosticative powers. I certainly never expected only 9 cyclists to actually complete the entire 121 mile distance. I rode Paris Mountain and thought it would make a selection, but not totally kick everyone’s ass like it did. I was stunned watching the devastation on the jumbo-tron during just the first ascent when 40 guys got popped and never regained contact with the main group. Forty guys effectively had their race end within 9 miles of the start.

It’s amazing that Saul’s alive, much less riding his bike on the road again following his near fatal crash this previous Spring. He’s still recovering, still striving to regain full control over his body, but there’s an underlying force of will beneath his easy-going, charming self which I think will return Saul once again to professional cycling. This photo was taken on race day while Saul checked in with Erik Saunders at the Time booth.