TGI / Hazards Bike Team: Breaking the Mold of Santa Barbara Cycling

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It’s early, it’s the weekend, and you need coffee. You muster up enough energy to get out of bed, throw something halfway decent on, and head to the nearest coffee spot. As you approach the door, there they are in their bright colored jerseys, or “kits”, sitting by their bikes, drinking coffee and having what appears to be a great time. Suddenly it clicks, “they’ve been up for hours and are now relaxing after what was probably a 50+ mile bike ride!” Who are these people who willingly wake up at the crack of dawn to bike further than most of us would consider driving and act as if they’ve reached some stage of nirvana as they laugh and sip on coffee all around Santa Barbara?

The TGI/Hazards Cycling Team is one such group. TGI/Hazards launched in January of this year and is run by Jim Brewer who formally ran a racing team in town under the name, and sponsorship, of Velo Pro/Kona. In 2006, the team took home 13 wins and 48 top ten finishes.

Brewer formed the TGI/Hazards Cycling Team out of a need to find a group that was interested in racing hard, but having fun. “Roadies can sometimes be unfriendly and smug and that won’t fly on this team. We’re all about having fun,” said Brewer. Brewer, an avid mountain biker with over twenty years experience on the trails under his belt, decided to make the change from mountain to road biking after taking an eight year hiatus. After a serious medical condition, Jim decided to get back on the bike as a way to stay healthy, but this time he started out on the road and what resulted was a passion for the sport of road racing.

Brewer went on to say, “The philosophy of our team is to have fun. If the fun is gone, then it’s time to move on to another sport. There is nothing worse than a road bike racer with a bad attitude. I am always joking around on the bike and as soon as the conversation turns serious I start talking about drinking beer or something.” And it’s this attitude that separates the TGI/Hazards team from others you might find sitting at your favorite coffee spot or zipping by you on the Pass. These aren’t just a group of people out for a leisurely ride. The TGI/Hazards Cycling Team has racers at the elite level (Cat 1 or Cat 2) all the way to entry level (Cat 5) racers who are working their way quickly up the ranks. As of March 2007, the team already has six elite level racers.

You’d think that all this racing and practice would leave little, if any, time off the bike. As far as the TGI/Hazards team, Brewer had this to say: “Most team members will spend their spare time with their wife and kids, but cycling is very time consuming and sometimes interferes with the family life. In order to make it all work there has to be somewhat of a balance. It’s very tough to keep everyone happy and be a top notch bike racer at the same time. We have done some charity events in the past. Some guys surf like [me] and we even have a guy on the team that is a big time hunter. Go figure!”

In 2007, the TGI/Hazards team will race an estimated 12 races, most of them being held in California. The team will usually do at least one out of state trip. Last year Jim took his team to Oregon for the Mount Hood Cycling Classic. When we asked Jim about the future of cycling in town, Brewer said, “The goal for some people in this town is to have just one big Santa Barbara race team. I think the teams we have now will stay the same. The teams that are the most organized will get bigger and have the best riders. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team.”

How competitive are the teams in Santa Barbara? Very! All the cyclists we talked with seemed to have that killer look of any other athlete looking for the win, but we also noticed something very unique when we asked around about the TGI/Hazards team. We noticed that people smiled when talking about them, and even competitive race team Team Chicken Ranch is a key sponsor of the TGI/Hazards team! You simply don’t see that kind of support in other sports around Santa Barbara and that’s just one of the things that makes the racing community in town so unique.

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The local cycling community is larger than many think and it’s easy to get started by joining one of the local clubs in town. Brewer said,”Anyone can get started. The first thing you want to do is buy a nice road bike and have the proper gear. Safety is very important not only for yourself but for the riders around you. You need good handling skills to ride in a group.” Bike clubs tend to be more social and are funded by the club members, whereas racing teams, although social, are all about the race and are therefore funded by their sponsors who are expecting results.

You can find more information about the TGI/Hazards team on their new website: sbcyclingteam.com. Some of the other street race teams in town include Team Chicken Ranch, Time Factory Team, and the UCSB Cycling Team. To top things off, there are several mountain bike racing teams in town including Platinum Performance Mountain Bike Team run by Todd Both (platinummtb.com).

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