Twelve-year-old bicyclist Levi Dykes put together a complete winning weekend at the Three River Rumble Omnium in Rockwood last month, including capping off event in style, taking first place in the Tennessee State Championship Road Race.
Dykes led off his weekend by taking first place in the Juniors 9-14 Individual Time Trial on July 21. He followed that with another top spot in the Juniors 9-18 Criterium race the same day. However, it was his performance in the Juniors 9-14 Road Race on July 22 that left the Tullahoma native most proud.
During his effort in the state championship road race, Dykes completed the 18.65-mile course in 53 minutes and 55 seconds. During the race, Dykes and second-place finisher Zach Lowe broke away from the pack. However, toward the end of the race, Dykes was able to pull away, garnering the victory and finishing 26 seconds ahead of Lowe.
“Straight off the bat, we went to the front,” Dykes said. “We switched rotations. I pulled up the hills to pace it. Then we just rotated the rest of the way … The last hill was .6 miles. That’s where I made my attack and he couldn’t hang on for that.”
In total, Dykes faced five other racers during the road course. Charlie Stelly rounded out the top three competitors, finishing with a time of 1:02:54, just under 9 minutes behind Dykes.
With the state championship in hand, Dykes said the next step is competing at nationals. That race will take place at some point in 2019.
On July 21, Dykes opened his weekend by taking the top spot in the Individual Time Trial. That competition pitted him against five other cyclists in the 1.35-mile race, and he completed the course in 3:41.
“It was very fast-paced,” Dykes said. “I averaged like 26 mph on that. I gapped them by about 26 seconds on that, and for that short of a race, that’s a big gap.”
Though Dykes put together a strong effort, he said it wasn’t easy. Toward the end of the time trial, that there was a tough climb in order to cross the finish line.
“That was a very hard effort to keep up that pace,” he said. “At the end of the course, there was a steep, short hill. It was about .2 of a mile, but it was like 6 or 7 percent grade all the way up.”
Later on in the day, Dykes then took part in the criterium race. The 25-minute criterium was comprised of consecutive .84-mile laps, with eight turns in each lap, all done on a closed course.
Getting out to a fast start, Dykes quickly pulled ahead of the pack. However, as the race continued, he slowed, letting the rest of the field catch up with him, as he admitted, “I went too fast off the start.”
As the group was settling into race pace, 16-year-old Jacob Kuper made a break to the front of the pack. Dykes and one other racer began to try to chase Kuper, creating a three-man chase group.
Shortly though, it became a two-man race as Dykes and Kuper battled it out toward the end of the criterium. With two laps to go, Dykes took over the top spot, and was able to hold off Kuper for the victory, finishing with a winning gap of two seconds.
“It came to the sprint and I was able to beat him on that,” Dykes said. “That was awesome.”