Bikes of Sunflower: Paul's LeMond Versailles

  "In March of 1999 I moved from Kansas City to Portland, Oregon.  I was 26 years old.  Growing up as a cyclist, the move to this town offered a renewed interest in one of my life’s passions.  Sometime later that spring, I found out that Greg LeMond was to make an appearance at one of the bike shops that I would frequent.  What an opportunity – to see one of my childhood hero’s!  The event was to promote his line of bicycles, but it became more of a Q&A session with the signing of autographs afterward.  The line for meeting him snaked throughout the store and I found myself close to the end of it.  Once it was finally my turn I figured he probably would have had enough of being there and would just sign my poster and jersey and motion to the next person in line.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth.  He actually took the time to get to know a little something about me, asking what I was up to.  So, we got to chat for a while and even took a photo together too. He was incredible gracious and this is one of my fondest memories of living there. 

Fast forward seven years later and back in Kansas, now attending KU and on the cycling team.  The 2006 road racing season was upon us and I was focused on winning at least a race and moving up to the A squad.  To be able to do this, I was going to need a new bike!  Paul Davis, longtime fixture of Sunflower Outdoor and Bike, was the guy to find what I was looking for.  After test riding a few different makes and models from other companies, he had me focus my attention on the LeMond Versailles.  It was a unique frame for sure with its platinum steel spine and OLCV carbon cockpit.  Steel was the only frame material I had ridden and this was to be my introduction to world of carbon riding.  With combination of steel headtube, downtube and chainstays and carbon top-tube, seat tube and seatstays it provided both a stiff and smooth ride.  And, this bike took corners like it was riding on rails!  Outfitted with Shimano 105 and Ultegra, it had good componentry to compliment this outstanding frame.  I was sold, now we just had to order one in my size before they were all gone, this being a closeout of last year’s model.  As luck would have it, I got one of the last ones left in the entire country in a beautiful black and carbon with white lettering.  Soon a KU Jayhawk sticker adorned the top-tube to let others know I raced for the collegiate team.

As the racing season progressed I placed well in the first couple of races.  Then it was time to go to North Dakota for a weekend of racing.  This would be my first time racing here, with it being so far away and the weather usually unpredictable.  With a well-placed team we ventured out onto the course for a 30 or so mile road race.  Alongside my teammates we all rode up front controlling the race as the miles ticked by.  Approaching the last stretch of road before the finish line I knew it was time to make my move.  A select few of us worked our way to the front and then it was on – a bunch sprint for the finish.  I made sure to latch onto the wheel of a couple of riders in front of me, holding off my sprint until the very last second.  As it we started to run out of real estate, I knew I had to make my move.  Off I went, sprinting my heart out; across the line for my very first win!  As I slowed down and tears started to form in my eyes, I knew then and there I too was a champion, just like LeMond."

March 20, 2016 by Andrew White
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