Spring time at Ninigret RI generally means nasty conditions for bike racing and after the Chris Hinds "Sunshine Criterium" at Ninigret two weeks previously actually lived up to its intentionally ironic name, there was little chance the Arc-en-ciel sponsored Rick Newhouse memorial race would also luck out with the weather. As per usual, it was a cold, rainy, and windy day at Ninigret but nowhere near as bad as was predicted. The Jens Factor was never worse than JF3.
Arc-en-ciel racing put on a full slate of races with proceeds from the race going to their former teammate's family. Considering the predicted weather, the early season schedule, and competion from other races, the turn out was good with about 160 participants.
Category 5: The day started with 15 Cat 5s. Three or four of them seemed to do the bulk of the work setting the pace at the front of the field while everyone else was along for the ride. That isn't atypical for a Cat 5 race where no one has much, if any, tactical experience. For Alejandro Cifuentes and Anthony Clark, it worked out well placing 1st and 2nd after doing way more than their share of the work throughout the race. One other rider set the pace for 4 laps in one long pull but over extended himself and couldn't recover as the race went past him. After the race I tried to explain that he should take shorter pulls and not wear himself out past the point of no return like that. I think he got it. Hopefully we will see him at the races again.
Masters55: 10 Riders took the line in the 55plus race including former national champion Mark Hagen (CCB). Hagen and Ed Deming (Mystic Velo) got away off the front of the race in the first half of the 55 minute race while the chase group was trimmed to 4 including Demings two Mystic Velo teammates, Jim Themig and Chip O'Lari, who obviously weren't going to chase. Hagen and Deming built up a lead of a couple of minutes by the end of the race. Knowing that Hagen is a time trial specialist, and a very good one, we all expected that he would try to drop Deming before the finish but it didn't happen. At the finish, Deming came around Hagen to take the win.
Cat 3/4: Within the first 10 minutes of the 55 minute race, Scott Glowa (Svelte Cycles) and Gary Aspnes (Horst-Benidorm) took a flier off the front of the field to shake things up. Aspnes has been on great form recently and rode away from the field at the Myles Standish Road Race the previous week. But in my memory Glowa has never been a break away type rider. He will be from now on, at least on flat courses like Ninigret. Working together, they built up about a minute lead which is approaching half a lap on the 0.9 mile Ninigret loop. Geoff Williams and his tream mates from Providence Velo tried to real the break back in but without success. Both leaders had one teammate in the field to help control the pace. After the race, several riders mentioned how Spike McLaughlin (Horst) did an especially good job blocking for the breakaway. It isn't often you hear other racers compliment someone's blocking so he must have been doing something right out there. At the finish, after about 45 minutes of two man team trialing, Glowa outsprinted Aspnes for the win by less than a bike length.
Masters45: I could try to tell you what happened in this one, but I'd rather link you to the race winner, Dave "Solobreak" Foley (BOB), so you can get the first hand version . I'll just say that he played it perfectly, getting everyone else to watch him roll away from the break away in the closing seconds of the race. Well done!
Masters35: When David Potter (Arc-en-ciel), Tyler Monroe (CCB), and Tom Francis (Bikebarn) took off the front it looked like it was going to be for the long hall. They built up ove a minute lead by working smoothly together throughout the race. Ciaran Mangan (CCB) tried to get across in the closing laps without dragging anyone along with him but his move was shut down when the host club (Arc-en-ciel) went to the front and picked up the pace to ensure that 4th place would be that easy to snag. David Potter took the sprint from 200 yards out to give the host club the victory while Tom Francis took second, Monroe third. Ernie Tautkus, who had won three prime sprints for 6-packs of Newport Storm earlier in the day took the field sprint for 4th.
Pro1,2,3: This was the third race of the day for a few of the riders including Tautkus and Aspnes as well as a couple of the Arc-en-ciel riders. Surprisingly, this was not an especially tactical race. It stayed together from start to finish with no serious break attempts. The finish was a mass gallup to the line that crossed most of the width of the road. Squirting through the flailing bikes to resach the line first was 16-year old Evan Kirk (CLNoonan). A split second (literally 0.1 seconds according to the official results) was Ryan Serbel (CCNS) followed by the man of the day, Ernie Tautkus (CCNS) just another 0.1 seconds behind. It is worth noting that Evan Kirk was sprinting on restricted junior gears which equate to something like a 45x12 tooth combination (or 3.75 revolutions of the back wheel for each turn of the pedals) while the older riders where probably in or near their max gear, typically 53x11 (almost 5 revs per turn of the pedals). I don't want Evans head to swell up as big as his hair so don't tell him I said so, but I think we might be looking at a real prospect here.
Women and Juniors: The women and juniors took the line together to start the race but after some discussion and a quick vote on the stasrt line they opted to race separately, starting with a one-minute gap between them. This didn't stop them from catching and passing each other but both fields were small enough (8 and 15 riders that it wasn't a problem). Both races came down to two person duels. In the women's race, it was between Anna Barensfeld (Ladies First Racing) and Silke Wunderwald (Kenda). They lapped everyone except Kimberly Edwards (CVC). At the finish Silke passed Anna for the win with Kimberly less than a minute back for third. In the Juniors race, it came down to the McCormack twins, Cameron and Brendan (both Hot Tubes). Peter Vollers Jr and his Killington Mountain School teammates hung in with the McCormacks for a while, but they couldn't contain them for the whole race. The twins would replay their sprint from the previous week at Myles Standish and the result would be the same with Cameron just edging out Brendan by less than half a bike length.
I have a couple of weeks off from announcing now so maybe I'll do a little racing myself. I never did make it to Wells Ave last week as threatened in the previous post. I'll either try to get there again this weekend or I'll do something I haven't done in about 20 years - a mountain bike race. Paul Curley is promoting a new race at Massasoit State Park near Taunton on Saturday. That should be fun even though my MTB is a 20 year old totally rigid (except for the loose headset) beast. The thing should be in the recycle bin at the dump, not in a race. I am thinking about getting a new MTB so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know in the comments. 29er? Full suspension or not? Frame material? Brands? Deals?