For four years now, the Arc en Ciel racing team has hosted a race at Ninigret State Park in early April to honor the memory of Rick Newhouse, a teammate who died of brain cancer a few years ago. This year they got unusually good weather for the event and reasonably good turnout despite being in direct competition with the now famous Tour of the Battenkill.
Other than occurring on the same day, the two races don’t have much in common. Ninigret is a perfectly flat 0.9 mile course purpose made for bike riding. There are lots of corners but no real technical challenges unless it is windy. With no vehicle traffic, the pavement stays in great shape. Could Battenkill and Ninigret be any more different?
Here’s what happened:
Cat 5 – A motley looking crew (not Crue) lined up at the start finish line. One guy had a blue skateboarding helmet on (but apparently ANSI approved). One guy had on layers of threadbare ripped t shirts that looked like a costume from the midnite showing of Rocky Horror. As Mimi the USCF official said, “Cat 5s, there so cute”. Once we got them going, the race stayed together until the half way prime. Cat 5s aren’t allowed to have primes of any value according to the rules, but we found some water bottles to give away. Skateboard helmet guy (Richard Woodland) won both primes, but the field came back together both times. After winning two primes he was the odds on favorite to win, but he didn’t factor in the sprint. Greg Louro (Bike Works) won it followed by Jay Zengobot (in the worn out t-shirts). He was informed by the officials after the race that his attire did not meet the USCF standards. If he keeps placing in the races, he should be picked up by a club before too long and be able to retire his t shirts for a club jersey before they get any thinner.
Cat 4 – This was a very active race with little breakaways heading off the front constantly. Rich Persons (Minuteman Road Club) was especially active early on. He must be the tallest rider in New England on his 65 cm Seven Cycles bike. He and Cicero got a 5-6 second gap before the first prime but junior Evan Kirk (Mystic Velo) bridged across the gap on the last half lap and kept going passing the break just before the long finishing strait. He rode away for the prime. Too bad the prize was a six pack of beer from race sponsor Newport Storm and he’s only 18 years old so it was given to his chaperone. He then won another prime as did his team mate David Gilchrist. His mom picked up his prime. Four guys from Bikeworks including the Phenix brothers set up the lead out train with 2 to go, but number three in the train couldn’t hold the wheel of his team mate and the lead out fell apart before the finishing strait. They got swarmed and Marshall Johnson (B rumble Bikes) took the win in a field sprint.
Masters 55 – Mark Hagen (CCB) split it apart early on with a starting group of about 10 riders dividing into two like a horny amoeba (I am not normally prone to such simile, but I like that one). Hagen took the primes but Richard Martin (Masters Racing) and Michael Miller (Masters Racing) hung with him. Miller mashed a huge gear while Hagen and Martin are spinners. At the finish Hagen took the win in a sprint. 67 year old Martin hung right on to the end. He already has 5,000 miles in his legs from a long winter in Florida. Even for a retiree, that doesn’t sound possible, but you have to believe his wife – she’s a USCF official.
Mas 45 – The feature of this race was the Gentlemen’s Vitality Prime, a prize package put together by Arc en Ciel rider Randy Rusk. As the story goes, Randy’s wife has insisted that he get rid of his collection of Playboy magazines so he donates a few from his collection every year to be part of a prime that also includes a 12-pack of Mountain Dew and a DVD of a bike race. It has been dubbed the Gentlemen’s Vitality Prime because that should be all you need to stay horny and alert through middle age. Hence, the prime is award only for the 45 and 35 plus races. By the way, the DVD in the 45 plus GVP was Tyler Hamilton’s winning ride at Liege Bastogne Liege. I guess Randy isn’t planning on watching Tyler anytime soon, the race being just one day after Tyler’s final exit from the sport due to doping charges (see previous post). Anyway, the prime was won by Duane Scofield (BOB). The sprint broke the pack up after they let the break of Eric Morro (BOB) and Todd Buckley (Arc en Ciel) go as they counter attacked after the prime. They had just a slight advantage when the third placed rider slipped out in a corner slowing the rest of the field momentarily. Officials put him back in after a free lap, but he succumbed to road rash and dropped out of the break, then out of the race completely. The gap for the two leaders went to 30 plus seconds with several Arc en Ciel riders in the field blocking the chase. Skip Foley saw the writing on the wall and tried to bridge with 3 laps to go but Paul Curley (GearWorks) and David Kellogg (Arc en Ciel) got on him. Foley gave up in frustration when they wouldn’t come around to take a pull but the effort broke the chase group down to 5 riders. Foley even rode off into the grass to force Curley to take the lead. Buckley took first with Morro right behind. About 30 seconds later the sprint for third went to Curley narrowly over Scofield after Scofield led it out. Foley didn’t even try.
Mas 35 – This one started to break up right away with groups all over the course. The lead group had nine including three from Arc en Ciel. It included Mathew Kressy (Millwork), Bill Yarbroudy (NBX), Bill Mark (NBX) , Michael Shireman (Union Velo), Peter Voller (Vollers Law), Todd Buckley (Arc en Ciel), Tobi Schultze (Fuji), and David Potter (Arc en Ciel) and Jason ?Hurd (Arc en Ciel). Yarbrody took off with about 8 laps to go and built up a 30 second lead on the break. He stayed away and lapped the remnants of the field (about 8 riders). He then went straight through them to finish solo. Kressey won the field sprint for second. Murat Altimbasak (Millwork) took the second gentlemens prime which had been put on the field earlier in the race. Thanks to Jason Hurd I will have some in-race footage from my handlebar mounted camera posted soon. I need to do some editing first. Check back soon.
P123 – Tim Unkert is the man. He might not always finish first, but he is always trying and always rides harder than anyone else (except maybe Yarbroudy). He started his first solo attack on the first lap and got a 20 second lead before getting some company. Buckley and Rusk, both in their second races of the day , caught up, then Skip Foley (360/Landry’s) and a few others bridged up. But it all came back together with 25 to go. Unkert went again solo again but got company from Buckley again and Adam Sullivan (Spooky). With 16 to go, it was all back together again. But Unkert was still shooting off the front every time the pace slowed a little. A break of 5 finally stayed away – Rusk, Unkert, Kressey, Vollers, while Jim Thomas (NEBC) bridged up last. Kressey led out the sprint from the last corner 500 meters out and held on aided by a tail-cross wind. Thomas was close behind, then Unkert, Vollers and Rusk all drag racing in the saddle to the finish, not really sprinting. Unkert, for all his efforts won primes for a stay at a bed and breakfast in Newport and 60 bucks, some beer, and third place in the race.
Juniors – Four junior racers showed up which is two more than last year. Ian McFarland (Mystic Velo), Peter Vollers Jr. (Vollers Law), Emily Curley (Gear Works), and Grace Vollers (Vollers Law) all raced for 30 minutes and it finished in that order.