Justin Eppenbrock hit the pause button on his career, deciding to give the sport he loved one more chance.
After graduating from Augusta State in 2008 with a criminal justice degree, he delayed his job search to try to establish a cycling career.
In 2010, he’d had enough of the sport and started searching for a job. Then, when the USA Cycling National Championships announced a two-year stint in Augusta for 2011 and 2012, he decided his career could wait.
“I decided to give it another chance,” he said, using last year as a rebuilding year.
The 29-year-old Eppenbrock, the winner of the 2012 Tundra Time Trial in February, is likely making his final appearance in the national championships this week. The Appling resident is one of the featured competitors among the elite men in the time trial and road race at USA Cycling’s National Championships, which run today through Sunday.
The competition begins this morning with the junior road race at Fort Gordon’s Junior Championship Circuit. The time trial, which features the elite men and women, will be held Thursday at Strom Thurmond Dam, with the course stretching as
far as 30 kilometers into Georgia.
On Friday, the six-corner criterium will be held in downtown Augusta on a 1.25-kilometer course. At 6 p.m. Friday, the U.S. Paralympic cycling team will be announced at the criterium start/finish line at Ninth and Broad streets.
On Saturday and Sunday, the road race will be held at the Maj. Matthew P. Burke, M.D. Championship Course at Fort Gordon.
More than 800 riders have already registered for the national championships, including 13-year-old Alexander Kirov of Evans. Kirov, a triathlete who also plays tennis, sails and skis, competed in the time trial last year. He will participate in the same event again.
“I liked racing with the good athletes,” Kirov said. “It was really tough.”
Evelyn Stevens of Dennis, Mass., a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team’s road race squad, is competing in the time trial and the road race. Amber Neben of Lake Forest, Calif., a fellow U.S. Olympic team member, also is entered.
Robin Farina, a co-owner of Uptown Cycles in Charlotte, N.C., is back to defend her time trial national championship. Last year, she won a three-rider sprint to take the event.
On the men’s side, Robert Bush of Louisville, Ky., has returned to defend his U23 men’s criterium national championship, while Rob Squire is looking to repeat as U23 time trial national champion.