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Where everybody knows your name

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It’s been 10 years since Elizabeth “Tubby” Johnson jumped onto the seat of a bicycle barreling down Broad Street in the Nevada City Classic.

But in re-celebrating her recent 50th birthday by returning to the race this year, Johnson joins a large contingent of local cyclists competing in what’s considered to be the biggest one-day sporting event to hit western Nevada County each year.

Johnson, a physical therapist at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital who will race in the women’s event, will be joined by two other area cyclists with health-related careers sure to be crowd favorites Sunday.



Paul Salvey, a 47-year-old Grass Valley dentist, and John Seivert, a 43-year-old Grass Valley physical therapist, will compete in the 35-and-over and 45-and-over Masters’ race.

“I’m pumped and nervous as hell,” said Seivert, who has completed eight Ironman triathlons but will be making his rookie run at the Classic. “I’m nervous just because of the nature of speed, going 50-miles per hour down Broad Street.




“You know, I competed in The World’s Toughest Triathlon in Tahoe several times. In 1988, I got up to 62 miles per hour down Monitor Pass. Then I got married and it was 58 miles per hour. Then we adopted our first kid and it was 52. All of the sudden, responsibility gets you to be a little bit cautious.”

Salvey said he’s traversed the 1.1-mile loop with area cyclist Jason Moeschler just to get an idea of what he’ll face in his first shot at the Classic. The ride left him with one clear goal in mind.

“To do well enough not to get pulled from the race,” said Salvey, who planned to race the Classic in 1979 to ride alongside three-time winner Greg LeMond, but was kept out of the field by a fractured hip suffered in a crash the day before LeMond’s first win here. “I had aspirations but I went at it with Jason at race pace for one lap and I couldn’t believe how fast we’re going to have to go. So I’ve scaled back my expectations.”

Seivert said it’s not only the downhill speed that concerns him, but also the clip cyclists must keep to stay with the pack through the climb. He doesn’t plan on keeping up with some of the field’s top Masters entrants, such as time trials champion Robert Ryan.

“Yeah, I’ll be right off his tire,” Seivert said with a laugh. “That Robert, he can hammer it. I’ve ridden with him on some weekend rides. Most of these guys are former pros. But for me, you want to see if you can just hang the whole race.”

With either 12 or 13 races under her belt, Johnson has shown in the past she can hang with some of the top women cyclists in the country, though she never attained a professional status. She also found herself down – if not out – during one of her runs at Nevada City, falling victim to the sharp left hand turn at the bottom of Broad Street.

“It’s hard. It does require some expertise,” she said. “One year I rolled a tire (off the rim) going into that corner. But I was able to get another pair of wheels to be able to finish.”

Though she certainly hopes not to find herself in a similar predicament Sunday, Johnson said she’d be in pretty good hands with her fellow PT staff members should she need them. She’ll also have support from what her friends hope to establish as one of the largest fan sections for any one cyclist.

“Everybody is going to come out and watch me, so I’m excited,” said Johnson. “That’s always been the fun part of doing it as a local. You get huge support.”

Just don’t expect those fans to be chanting her proper name.

“Oh no,” she said. “Nobody around here knows me as Elizabeth.”I’m ‘Tubby’ to everyone.'”

“It’s hard. It does require some expertise,” she said. “One year I rolled a tire (off the rim) going into that corner. But I was able to get another pair of wheels to be able to finish.”

Though she certainly hopes not to find herself in a similar predicament Sunday, Johnson said she’d be in pretty good hands with her fellow PT staff members should she need them. She’ll also have support from what her friends hope to establish as one of the largest fan sections for any one cyclist.

“Everybody is going to come out and watch me, so I’m excited,” said Johnson. “That’s always been the fun part of doing it as a local. You get huge support.”

Just don’t expect those fans to be chanting her proper name.

“Oh no,” she said. “Nobody around here knows me as Elizabeth.”I’m ‘Tubby’ to everyone.'”


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