Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yarmouth Clam Festival

This was the 29th annual bike race at the Yarmouth Clam Festival (although the Clam Festival started 44 years ago based on the banner above). By my rough calculation, that means the first race was held in 1981. A lot has changed in bike racing since then. The sound at the start of a race is dominated by the clunk of cleats locking into pedals instead of the sound of riders muttering and cursing as they reach down to tighten toe straps. Entry fees have tripled but prize lists haven't. The USCF is now USA Cycling. Bikes are made of crabon fiber, not many are made of steel anymore. And pre-registration is more often done by computer now than by envelope. Fortunately, in this crazy world where constant change is the one thing you can rely on, the Yarmouth Clam Festival Bike Race has hardly changed at all. It is still a barn burner of a race and it's still supported by the locals like no other race around.
This year's event started on a somber note with a memorial lap for a member of the local cycling community, Carrie Girod. She was killed by a motor vehicle while cycling on vacation in Seattle just a week before the race. She had been a member of the Portland Velo Club, the host club of the race, and a friend of many of those in attendance. I don't know more details of the accident beyond that, but it should serve as reminder of the dangers cyclists encounter each time we ride on the roads with the big steel boxes. Soap box time: If I were king, I would make it illegal to send or read text messages while driving. It's probably to late to keep people from talking on the phone while driving, that's just too ingrained in people now to stop, but maybe it isn't too late to put an end to the unnecessary and extremely selfish act of typing while driving. And I would also make it illegal to where headphones/earbuds while cycling. That is just dumb too. Anyway, back to the race -
After one complete 3.6-mile memorial lap around Yarmouth, the racing began for both the men's and the women's fields. The men's field (Pro 1,2,3) was nearly full at close to 100 riders while the women's field was considerably smaller at about 25. But the race promoter still pays the women's prize list 10 deep and $750, just like the men's race. Last year's men's winner,Justin Spinelli was not present to defend, but Rebecca Wellons (NEBC) returned to try to make it back to back wins.

Once the racing was underway, there were primes every lap for both races thanks to the incredible support that the local residents and businesses have for this race. The crowds were 3 and 4 people deep through the center of town on both sides of the road and plenty of those people donated for primes. There was never less than $40 on a lap for each race and typically well over $100.

Dick Ring, "The Voice of New England Bike Racing" , was in the crowd but it didn't take much coaxing to get him to grab a microphone and join me on the stage. He hasn't lost a step even though he doesn't see as much of the racers as he did before his "retirement" from race announcing a few years ago. It was a great privilege for me to once again trade stories and banter with the master as the race progressed. The unfortunate thing is that I barely got to pay attention to the race while I was trying to keep up with him.
I remember that every lap was won by a solo break or a small group off the front but that the attacks didn't seem to last very long until Peter Bradshaw (Embrocation Cycling) took off in the men's race around half way through the ten lap race and Rebecca Wellons did the same in the women's race. Peter got some company soon after but Rebecca did not. She went on to bag the primes for several laps earning a couple hundred extra dollars and then soloed in for the win a minute ahead of the rest of the field. Her victory salute included a letter C for Carrie with her right hand. Maybe she could teach young Mr. Cavendish a thing or two about appropriate and respectful victory salutes. Anna McLoon (Alturum Cycling) was second and Danielle Ruane (Sunapee) was third more than half a minute in front of the rest of the field which sprinted down the finishing strait to claim the rest of the prize money.

In the men's race, Bradshaw, who was the world champion bike messenger a few years ago, got some company when Damien Colfer, Ryan Fleming (Met Life), Morgan MacLeod (Bowdoin College), and Dan Vallaincourt (Colavita) pulled up alongside. They rode together as temporary team mates and established a solid but not insurmountable lead by working well together. Vallaincourt was on the front more often than not when they came through the start/finish area and was awarded most of the primes.

Bradshaw was the only one with much support behind in the field so blocking was not as much of a factor as it might have been. Instead, it was the power of the only full professional in the break, Vallaincourt, that drove the train and kept the break away. On the final lap, Bradshaw attacked the group and dropped most of them. But Vallaincourt caught back on and passed Bradshaw just before the finish line to take first prize by half a bike length (see picture below). Colfer crossed just seconds later followed by Fleming. The field charged down the final hill at well over 40 mph after already swarming MacLeod (who would finish 27th). Adam Myerson (Mountain Khakis) would taked the field sprint for 6th. Of note, Luke Keough (CLNoonan), winner of the previous day's race at Claremont (see previous post) would wind up his sprint on junior gears (45x12) and finish 9th. The downhill sprint and restricted gears put him at a big disadvantage, but he still pulled off a result in the money. Just wait until next year when the training wheels come off.

After the race, the top three women showed up promptly for the podium which is a big deal in Yarmouth because there actually are spectators who care there, but Bradshaw and Colfer apparently decided to take a warm down lap after the men's race and missed the whole thing. Vallaincourt is a pro on and off the bike and knew where to be and when to be there. For a short time the officials considered DQ'ing Bradshaw and Colfer for their transgression. Based on the picture of Bradshaw with a wad of cash at the Embrocation Cycling blog, I guess they didn't follow through on the threat. It sure does suck to be the announcer at a big race and have to plead over the PA for the podium to show up, but I wouldn't want to see them DQed after a great race either.

In addition to the prize list and primes, the winners also received an original painting from Joe Cousins, a local artist and one of the coordinators of the Clam Festival art show. Rebecca is going to need a bigger home if she wins another one. I am not sure, but I think it was Dan's first win at Yarmouth despite being from just down the road in Saco.

Here's a picture with Kristen Fortini (aka Mills), me, Dick Ring, and Joe Cousins at the finish line:

Thanks to Rose for snapping the pictures. After the race and some fried clams, Rose and I did a little sea kayaking nearby and had a great trip. I can't wait to go back next year for the racing and more fried clams.

You can find more pictures of the event at

Monday, July 20, 2009

8th Annual Claremont Criterium, July 18th, 2009

The 8th annual Claremont Criterium saw racing on the same downtown course as previous editions, but with a new finish line. The organizers decided to move the finish away from the park and put it right in the thick of the downtown businesses. Fortunately, many of those businesses donated cash and gift certificates for primes making this “the prime heavy criterium” as the promoter, Kevin Ondre, has dubbed the race. And he is right, I don’t recall giving out so many cash, merchandise, and gift certificate primes in a race in seven years of announcing as I did at this one. I was either ringing the prime bell or making sure that the prime sponsors got some publicity for their donations on every lap and since the course is only 0.45 miles long and lap times were often under a minute, the action kept coming fast. I had little time for journalistic note keeping for the blog, but here is what I've got:

Kids Races
We started the afternoon schedule with two heats of 300 yard sprints for the kids under 10 years of age. It was a great way to start the day and all the kids seemed to have a good time. Hopefully we will see some of them in junior races in the future when their training wheels come off.

Junior 10-14
Peter Vollers Jr. (Vollers Law/Start House) won two cash primes and then beat Owen McCullom in a two up sprint at the finish. McCullom (Team Placid Planet) is about a foot taller than PVJ and a year older but PVJ barely held him off.

Juniors 15-18
Joshua Leaman (Noreast) broke away solo about half way through the 30 minute race and looked good to go for the solo finish. But John Herrick and Chris McKenna (Woodstock Bicycle) put on the chase and got him with 4 laps to go. Somewhere out of site on the last lap, Leamann attacked the two and took the last portions of the final lap solo to win by several seconds. Herrick would outkick McKenna for second.

It was nice to see four young women compete in the race with the boys. They were racing for the same prize list so there were no prizes for the girls but, unofficially, Emily Curley (Gearworks) won the “girls’ race” by a lap.

Cat 5 19-34
The promoter decided to hold separate races for the Cat 5s based on age with the split at 35 years. This was probably a good idea as the course is fairly technical and larger fields of inexperienced riders would only lead to trouble. In the race for the younger Cat 5s, Ben Kramer (Sunapee) went solo from a field of about 10 riders with about 10 to go and looked good for the win but he was caught just after the final corner, about 300 yards before the finish, by Dustin Marshall. Marshall led it out and just edged out Kramer.

Cat 5 35plus
16 started the race for the older Cat 5s and it got whittled down to just 6 on the lead lap with 6 to go. That group included the only woman in the race, Carolyn Cole (Claremont Cycle Depot). She took the first prime of the race in the first half and was usually in the top three places throughout the race. She would finish fourth in the field sprint after Brice May, Alexander Gray, and Raymond Surell (in that order).

Masters 40 plus
One of the sponsors of the race was Vollers Law of Woodstock, Vermont. If that name sounds familiar, it is because it is the law firm of Peter Vollers, the former collegiate champion (at UMass in the mid 80s) and pro rider with Bill Sykes’s IME cycling team. He is still in great racing form as evidenced in the 40plus race where he broke away and took an uncontested solo win.

As the race announcer, I used the cash primes as an opportunity to give a shout out to the race sponsors by assigning each prime in the name of one of the sponsors. Most primes are awarded on the leader or lead group in the race, but when a lead is firmly established and there seems to be little else left for the field to race for, I start putting primes on the field to liven up the action. But that is actually bad news fo the field because that means that it seems like they are out of contention for the win.

Vollers got away with a solid gap on the field so I started ringing the bell for field primes. I credited the first one to Vollers Law. So, we had the first field prime sponsored by the guy that was riding away from them. Cruel? Maybe, but it got a laugh out of quite a few folks including Peter himself who told me later that he was cracking up on the bike while trying to concentrate on time trialing away from the field.

I guess the teasing got to the Sunapee guys because they eventually decided to put on a chase. Pat Ruane (Sunapee) came the closest to catching Vollers with Eric Pearce (Bethel) right with him. The official results indicate that they finished with the same time as Vollers but I think I remember a gap remaining at the finish. The rest of the field came in 21 seconds later.

Cat 4
Zach Labry (MIT) went off the front solo in the first half of the race and stayed out long enough to bag several primes. But then he got caught. He went again with about 8 to go in a do or die move. You got to give him credit for riding aggressively, but this time it would not be the “do” option. He was caught and went to the back of the field at the finish. At least he won a few primes while he was away. Bryon Lewis (Colavita) would take the field sprint win, followed by Alfred Bissell (Essex Velo), and Sam Van Kuren (Bikyle).

Pro 1,2,3
Adam Myerson (Mountain Khakis) was on the pre-registered list and he would have been the favorite to win but he must have extended his vacation by a day because we didn't see him this time. In years past he has done quite well at Claremont. Even without him, a strong field lined up for the feature race of the day. With the prime bell ringing nearly every other lap, and lap times well under a minute (the average speed must have been about 30 mph), the action kept coming with new breaks forming and getting caught constantly.

At one to go the field was all together. Luke Keough (CLNoonan) started the 90 degree left hand corner after the start/finish line in about 8th place, but by the time he was through that corner he was in second slot right behind Jake Hollenbach (CRCA). It would apparently stay that way until they came back into sight at the final corner 300 yards from the finish. Keough came around Hollenbach right after the corner and spun his junior restricted gear as fast as he could, with his head bobbing as fast as his legs were spinning. Most adult riders have about a 53x11 front/back gear combination. If I recall correctly, the max gear for a junior is something like a 45x12. That is a huge handicap for the younger rider when the speeds get over 30 mph. Considering that the average speed was near 30 mph, the sprint was probably close to 40 mph when it topped out.

Steve Stockwell (Sunapee) also came around Hollenbach as Hollenbach felt the pain of sprinting out of the saddle after leading out the last lap. Keough would pull away for the win with Stockwell behind, then Hollenbach maintained enough speed to hold on to third. Hollenbach was heard saying after the race, “I’ve got to get myself some of those junior gears.” Just wait and see what Keough does in the sprints next year when he will be 19 and on unrestricted gears.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Britain July 12th, 2009

This race always gives me that déjà vu feeling because it is on the same one-mile course as the Nutmeg State Games held in June. Both Rick Comshaw (Nutmeg State Games) and Jose Aguilles ( New Britain Crit) put on great events and it is a great venue for a race. The main difference, at least from the point of view of those of us working on the race, is that the schedule is about three hours shorter for the New Britain Crit. Both races even had official photographers snapping shots of all the action. Here’s how it went.

Cat 5
As is often their custom, the Cat 5s took a very conservative approach to racing and stayed together for the whole affair. Walter Archer won the field sprint after 10 laps of pack riding at a comfortable pace.

Masters 55 and 65/70
Once again, just like at Attleboro, the older riders were asked to vote whether they wanted their own field, or to be combined with the 55s. They chose to consolidate. Douglas Adams (Mosaic Smalti) took both primes and the finish in close pack sprints with Clarence Ballard (Somerset).
In the 65s it was all David Burnett (Mystic Velo) who soloed off the front almost the entire race. He finished more than half a lap ahead.

Masters 45
They stayed together through the first half, but back to back primes near the half way point launched John Raheb (who won both primes) on a solo attack but he was caught about 4 laps later. Keith Ford (Sunapee) took a flier with 1 to go and held on to take the win by several seconds. Raheb somehow managed to take the field sprint for second after his solo efforts. As the field sprint wound up behind Ford, Mike Norton (Cyclonauts) hit the deck hard about 200 yards out after he pulled out of one of his pedals. He was in the front of the field but he was the only one that went down. He is going to need a new MCRA jersey and new shorts and a lot of peroxide (youch!!). I’ll be surprised if we see him this weekend in Claremont.

Masters 35
Steve Stockwell (Sunapee) took off about half way through the race and kept going. He got some company, then he got more and more as riders bridged from the field to the break. At some point the break got too big and fell apart. After they got caught by the field, Stockwell managed to keep going solo. He stayed away for a well deserved victory by 3 seconds.

Masters 30
I am not sure why the age graded categories now start at 30 plus. Why, back in my day sonny, a 34-year old was still young enough to go to the Tour de France and win (Grandpa Simpson voice). And since a 38 year old is currently in third place in La Grande Boucle, I’d say that a 34 year old should still race his category and not start sandbagging masters races until he is 35. Although, many in this race also did other races, so I suppose if nothing else, the race promoter's bottom line is benefited by the extra entry fees. But I digress.

Tim Unkhert tried to get away, as is his custom, but he got some company. Eric Brownell was one of those who bridged across, but he was the only one to stay away after the break reformed around Unkhert. At the end it was Brownell soloing off for about 3 laps and taking the victory. The Spooky Bikes duo of Colin Murphy and Ward Solar sprinted for second and third. Unkhert ended up 8th.

Cat 3

Ben Wolfe (Mystic) went from the gun, as is his custom, and took a $25 cash prime. He kept going with blocking help from team mate Evan Kirk (Mystic) back i nthe field. Both of these guys are only 15 or 16 years old and have only another 15 years to go until they can start sandbagging the masters races (OK, I’ll try to let it go now). Ben was caught, which won’t be his custom much longer. He went again at the last lap but got caught again. James Joseph (former Olympian from Guyana) (We Stand United) won it in a field sprint. Our race promoter, Jose, was in the field and finished a respectable 10th place representing the host Greater Hartford Cycling Club/Central Wheel. It can’t be easy to jump into a cat 3 race with no warm up and a body and mind full of stress from all the BS that comes the promoter’s way on race day. A top 10 finish is most impressive.

David Gilchrist won the race in a field sprint. There really was no other likely outcome since the Mystic team had the field stacked and Gilchrist already won the Nutmeg State Games on the same course a month ago.

Women 4
Cesarina Bellahilla appeared to win the women’s race, but she was disqualified when the officials realized that she had an international license that equated to higher than category 4. The real winner of the race was Kristen Lotito (CRCA).

Pro 123
A group of 11 with most of the major teams represented got away early in the race but was brought back. The group of 11 fell apart as it was being caught but from it a smaller group developed with Skip Foley (360/Landry’s), Jermaine Burrows (We Stand United) and Franklin Burgos (Kraft Genie) establishing leads of almost 30 seconds. But Jake Keough (Kelly Benefit Strategies) rode chase tempo at the front and began to pull back the remainder of the break mostly by himself. Note that he didn’t chase when his brother, Luke (CLNoonan), was in the original move of 11. But he wasn’t going to let three amateurs have his lunch money if his brother wasn’t there, so he decided to chase.

He got help, maybe a little more than he wanted, when three guys from CCB – Amos Brumble, Will Dugan, and Aliksander Biliasuk. They chased and caught the 3 leaders with 10 to go making the lead group seven with plenty of horsepower to stay away. Melito Heredia (Innovation Bike) broke out of the field and into no man’s land. The CCB boys tried to gap Keough off the back of the break a couple of times but it didn’t work, he had enough in reserve to come back around each time. With 3 to go Brumble attacked for CCB. When he was pulled back, Dugan went. When he was caught it was Brumble again. It got confusing trying to track the action across the open ball field and behind the trees because Brumble and Dugan look exactly the same from half a mile away. Meanwhile, Bialasuk was the protected man for the finish. Brumble and Bialasuk exchanged places when Brumble was caught and Biliasuk barely maintained his lead to the end over the spent breakaways. Burrows sprinted right behind him for second with the gap only a couple of bike lengths. Skip Foley took third leaving Keough less lunch money than the former winner of the race probably had hoped for. Dugan followed, then Burgos.

Women Pro 123
You have to give Jose credit for having separate races for the women's categories, but only 8 riders signed up for this race despite a 10-deep prize list. Rebecca Wellons broke away after a few laps and road the rest of the race solo to victory. It was another case of daja vu all over again as she had done the exact same thing at the Nutmeg Games crit.

Because the 8 riders started the race at such a slow pace (about a minute slower per lap than most of the other races), the officials began to cut out laps to keep the next races on time. Some of the women seemed to get a little bit perturbed when the lap cards were dropping faster than (fill in your own analogy, it’s getting too late for me to think of one, let me know in the comments section what you came up with and I’ll edit it in another day). What they didn’t probably realize, at least during the race, is that although they were loosing laps, they were on the course for the full scheduled time.

There has to be a better way to run these small races so that the women get a better race out of it. Running as a points race has been suggested as has racing based on time instead of laps, which is essentially what happened here. But the women’s races are in the same catch 22 they have always been in – there aren’t enough women racers (much of the time) to have a proper race, but why should the women show up to race if they know they aren’t going to have a good event? How do we break that cycle? Or am I just mis-reading the situation.

Cat 4
Stayed together with a big field sprint which was won by Gary Birkamshaw (Mystic). As I recall, he pulled away from the field in full sprint without even standing up.

Attleboro Criterium, July 11, 2009

Promoter Sandy Martin pulled it off again and put on a fine race despite having little volunteer support and even less sponsorship. The course is a 1 kilometer four corner squished rectangle with a bit of an uphill every lap. Most of the corners aren't too tight but the first one after the start line does occasionally see riders overcook it and head onto the neighbor’s lawn at the apex of the corner. Here’s how the races went down:

Women Cats 3 and 4, and Women Masters 30 and Masters 45 (all fields together for separate prize lists)
The Cat 5 men often start a day’s racing off and it’s unusual to start a day with the women’s races. But that’s how Sandy Martin rolls so the women got top billing today. The combined field numbered about 25 riders and Frances Morrison proved herself to be one of the fastest by taking the first prime about 5 laps into the 25 lap race. Attrition started to take a toll at the back with brisk lap times around 1:34. About 18 or so of the women stayed on the lead lap and on the last lap it got strung out with some gaps. MaryAnn Martinez (Capital Velo) took the final sprint to win the 45 plus category and the race overall. Frances Morrison was second overall and first of the Cat 3 and 4 race, and Perri Mertens (Cambridge Bike) was first of the 30 plus race. Frances Morrison graciously donated her prime (a mini-pump) to be a prize for the kids grass crit since she “already has plenty of bike pumps”.

Unfortunately I could not follow the kids races while also announcing the big-kid races on the road so I don’t have any info on that. Hopefully a few of them will be back to compete on the road when they are big enough.

Masters 55 and 65
The two age groups were given the option to race together with separate prize lists or to keep two separate fields. The older guys were up for a challenge so the two fields were combined on the start line. That meant that both races would be doing 25 laps. James Themig (Mystic), Micky B (BOB), and David Burnette (Mystic) got away and stayed away. They lapped the field with about ten to go. Meanwhile, Mark Hagen (CCB) was hanging out in no man’s land chasing. He seemed to realize that he wasn’t going to catch or be caught and soloed the last 15 laps to take fourth overall. At one point he asked where all the primes were that I had promised on the start line, but I’m sorry, there are no primes for a solo rider in no man’s land. They all go to the break or to the field to liven things up.

Dusty Adams (Mosaic Smalti) took the field sprint which included the three riders on the lead lap so he got fourth in the 55s. The overall winner, Burnett, was in the 65s so Mickey B won the 55s with Themig second and Mark Hagen soling to third. Richard Martin (Masters Velo) was second in the 65s.

Masters 45
This 30 lap race started off at full throttle. They were riding hard for the opening half of the race but a group of 6 got away at 15 to go. But Dave Foley (BOB) brought it back all by himself with no apparent help from the rest as CCB and Sunapee sat on him. As I recall he even won an uncontested prime during the effort. He sat back after his work was done and recovered at the back for a lap or two. It stayed together until the end for a big field sprint. I thought I saw Mike Norton taking a close sprint but the official results indicate that Greg Melone (Gearworks) beat him in a photo finish. It's a good thing JD was there with the totally pro finish line camera set up. That’s probably not the result Foley had in mind when he was single handedly closing the gap.

Masters 35
All the big masters teams were well represented in this one including Sunapee, CCB, Team Fuji and Corner Cycle among others. They went fast from the start but that didn’t discourage the attacks. It did keep any of them from staying out there long until three of the more powerful teams were represented off the front. Ciaran Mangan (CCB), Pat Ruane (Sunapee), and Tobi Schultze (Team Fuji) took off. With three big teams up there, it fell to the guys from Corner Cycle to chase. They would put a rider on the front and try, Dave Foley-style, but either couldn’t break the strong blocking of the teams in the break or just didn’t want to commit enough legs to it. Kevin Hines (Corner Cycle) pulled the longest at the front but the blocking couldn’t be beat. Johnny Bold (Corner Cycle) then tried to go solo but couldn’t get across. Surprisingly, Mark McCormack (Team Fuji) didn’t try to go solo, but he did take the sprint for fourth place. Ruane won the sprint of the three breakaways followed closely by Schultze and Mangan.

Pro 123
This one was the Hot Tubes show from the start and no one else ever really had a chance. Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes) and six team mates took the line using this race as final preparation for their trip to the Red River Stage Race in Kentucky, the only UCI stage race for juniors in the US. And they didn’t waste much time getting it going. Gavin, being on home turf, went first and then was joined by one, then another, then another of his team mates to make it a four man team time trial off the front. They easily lapped the field with 34 to go and plowed right through. Meanwhile, Peter Bradshaw (Embrocation), Skip Foley (Landry’s), and Peter Bell (Met Life) had formed a chase group off the front. Mark McCormack bridged up to the chase to make it four. But it all finished together after Hot Tubes set tempo for the last 20 laps or so and caught the four. They didn’t need to do that but it was probably good practice for the upcoming stage racing. Nathan Brown (Hot Tubes) took the field sprint to make it 1st through 5th places for the Hot Tubes team. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, they are all less than 19 years of age and riding on restricted junior gears. Mark McCormack was the best of the rest in 6th. Thanks to Mark for donating a big box of Clif shot and Fuji products for primes for races throughout the day.

Masters 30
This race was the only sleeper of the day because once Bill Yarbrody (NBX) took off up the road solo, no one really seemed to try. Tim Unkhert made a brief effort to chase but realized that studying for his graduate degree hasn’t helped maintain his cycling fitness any. He went back to the field and Yarbrody continued building his lead over a scattered field. Yarbrody lapped and then went through the field, then Unkhert broke away to join him. Unkhert just can’t help himself. The two worked together and stayed clear to the end. Just to confuse the spectators, Unkhert came across the line first to claim second place leaving it to Yarbrody to win the race solo a couple of seconds later.

Cat 3
Ben Wolf (Mystic) and Chris Bailey (Pedro’s) got away right after the start and built an 18 second gap before being joined by Mathew Spaits (Cambridge Bike). That break fell apart with 7 to go but Bailey carried on with a ten second lead. The field was lead, Foley-style, for four laps by Leo Deforges (Threshold Cycling) who then tried the solo bridge move. It’s tough to bridge after four laps on the front and unlikely to surprise anybody, but it kind of worked. He made it to within about 10 seconds at two laps to go with just Spaits on his wheel. Spaits and DesForges apparently talked on the back side of the course and had some arrangement that apparently one of them misheard. It was clear that DesForges was not pleased with the outcome when Spaits rode around him to take second place. Spaits said afterward that there was a misunderstanding on the road but it got worked out after the race and that all is now well with both of them. Hopefully DesForges had the same understanding.

Cat 4
It was the Scott Simmons story until the finish when he was beat by Steven Owens (Green Line Velo). Simmons ground a monster gear throughout the race to take all the primes and second place. He told me after the race he was turning a 56x11 most of the time, including the flat finishing strait. There was a slight tailwind on the finishing stretch, but 56x11?? Maybe if he didn’t mash such a huge gear his solo effort wouldn’t have gotten caught on the last half lap. It is amazing he held on for second.