Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rick Newhouse Criterium - Ninigret RI, April 17, 2010

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?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Myles Standish Road Race, April 10, 2010

The State finally re-paved the main road into Myles Standish State Forest from the Plymouth side.  So, this year's race returned to the College Pond loop after a year on the training loop at Charge Pond.  Or that is what we thought would happen.  As it turned out, 14 inches of rain in the month of March (a record) on top of a rainy 2009 raised the groundwater levels so high that a portion of the College Pond loop was flooded out.  Race promoter Bill Sykes had a tough choice to make: move back to Charge Pond again or shorten the College Pond loop to avoid the massive puddle.  No one really wanted to race the Charge Pond loop again for the 6th straight week, so he wisely shortened to College Pond loop to avoid the pond/puddle on the south side of the College Pond loop.  That left just a 2 mile loop that was pretty much all either climbing or descending with a couple of small rollers in between.  Maybe someday the State will fix the dam at East Head Bog near the forest headquarters and the race will be able to return to the classic 7 mile loop.  I'll bet most people that raced MSRR this weekend weren't even around for that version of the course, it's been more than 10 years since the dam has been closed.

Before we go any further here, I should point out that the staging and the finish were the only parts of the races that I could se from my vantage point as the announcer.  As a result, the race summaries below are a combination of what I could peice together from the USAC officials' race radio transmissions (thanks Kelly) and reports from riders after the race.  Sorry if I don't have it all exactly right.

Cub Juniors – The cub juniors certainly don't remember the full length version of the course and that's ok because their race was just two miles (or one lap) long.  In an effort to explain the course to them, I figured I would put it in kid terms.  I told them the course is like a lollypop, you go out the stem, take one lap around the lollypop, and then come back down the stem to finish.  I got blank looks, but it made sense to me so I kept using the analogy all the way though to the Masters and Pro races at the end of the day.

Five kids lined up for the once around the lollypop race. When they came back down the stem to the finish, Ian Keough took the solo victory by about a minute.  As Joe Parkin (author of a Dog in a Hat) would say, there was no one else in the picture. Three of Ian's older brothers were at the Tour of the Battenkill and the oldest, Jake, was racing in California.  I couldn't tell which brother he was talking to, but he got some last minute coaching via cellphone while on the start line.  It seemed to help.

Juniors 15-18 – This race was a rematch of Vollers vs. McCormack through the proxies of their respective sons.  Frank McCormack had 15 year old twins Brendan and Cameron while Peter Vollers had Peter Vollers Junior (PVJ in Belgian shorthand).  The fathers raced together as professionals on the IME team that Bill Sykes put together years ago.  PVJ also had lots of teammates from the Killington Mountain School while Cameron and Brendan were the sole representatives of Hot Tubes Cycling.  They did 7 laps of the course and within the first half of the race the McCormack twins took off the front. At the finish, Cameron narrowly took the sprint from his brother. Nate Etchells (Mystic Velo)  finished third with PVJ right behind.

Cat5  – The Cat 5s were split into two fields with 35 years being the dividing line and they set off a couple of minutes apart.  Both fields had almost 30 riders which is about all you would want on the narrow twisting roads at MSRR.  The 35plus Cat 5 group came in to the finish line with a big bunch sprint and as they came into view over the last rolling hill one of the riders suddenly moved to the right taking out the 3rd or 4th rider in linfrom the front off the course and causing others to take evasive action.  Fortunately the rider that was taken down did most of his tumbling in the pine needles on the side of the road and not on the asphalt.  Still, he was banged up enough to go to the hospital in the ambulance .  The diagnosis included broken ribs and some serious road rash.  He returned to pick up his truck and bike from the parking area just moments before it was about to be locked in by the State. It would still be there now if he had been tewn minutes longer.  His wife who had picked him up at the hospital didn't seem too happy, but he said he would be back on the bike soon.  In the race, Robert Hoenick (Bikeworks) was leading out the sprint when the crash happened and was therefore ahead of the crash.  He held on from 300 yards out without even having to stand up to take the win.

The Cat5 35plus field came to the line in a big bunch also but a little more strung out.  They passed the crash victim from the previous race who was fortunate to be well out of the way.  Geremia Ortega took the field sprint by a bike length.

Cat4 – Just past the halfway mark of the 20 mile race, Nevin Rallis ( and three others took off to establish a few seconds lead after a series of chases and reformations in the first part of the race. The lead group of four was trimmed to three and they stayed clear by about 7 seconds and got to sprint it out. Rallis won the three-up sprint with a blast of speed to come around the right side of Ben McCoy and Justin Neviakis.

Masters55 - A break of three formed in this race also, lead by Mark Hagen . With one to go, and partly because the Cat4s past the Masters55, Dusty Adams, who had been in no-mans-land between the break and the field, didn’t get the word that he had one to go and headed strait to the finish. Unfortunately his official result is a DNF even though he had been in fourth. At the "sprint", Mark Hagen (CCB) powered away from the other two in the break without even getting up from the saddle followed by Graydon Stevens (OA) and Bill Sawyer (Gearworks) in that order.

Masters35 – Mark McCormack (Team Fuji) and Johnny Bold (Corner Cycle) lined up with a stellar field of about 30 riders. Mark got away with a Corner Cycle rider (not Johnny) and Tom Francis (Bike Barn). Bold couldn’t cross to the break because his teammate was up the road.  However, the teammate got dropped from the break leaving just Mark and Tom.  They later caught the Cat3 field and passed through. This lead to confusion in counting the laps resulting in Mark and Tom doing an extra lap.  Tom Francis stayed tied to Mark's wheel longer than most would have, but in the final 100 yards Markie pulled away for the win.  Here's where it really got confusing at the finish line.  The next riders through the finish were the Cat3 field, one lap sooner than the cat 3 break which never got passed by Markie and Tom. Then, the next through the finish was the Masters55 field sprint, and then finally the Cat3 winning break.

Cat3 – The Cambridge Bike team came in force to the MSRR.  Their team leader, R Michael McKittrick, had publicly vowed months ago to boycott theTour of the Basttenkill and its suddenly increased entry fee.  He stayed true to his word and dragged his team to Plymouth with him instead. Also lined up for the Cat3 race were several of the Gearworks masters team looking to get in some extra quality training miles. A group of three got off the front including Paul Curley (Gearworks), Luke Fortini (Specialized), and Gary Aspnes (Horst-Benidorm).  That group would come to the finish line with Aspnes leading it out.  If there is one thing in bike racing you don't want to do, it's lead out Paul Curley.  That man has been racing since the days of penny farthings and knows exactly how to use you up in a sprint and come around for the win.  That's exactly what he did.  Fortini felt it wasn't a clean sprint but the result didn't change.  Hopefully young Luke learned a thing or two from the Jedi sprint master.

Women – The race plan called for separate Pro123 and Cat4 fields, but almost everyone that showed up was a Cat4.  So, the fields were combined into one race since they were to be on the course at the same time anyweay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any info from the officials during this race so I don't have any details on how it developed. But, at the finish it was Kristen Gohr (Stage 5 Cycling) from the Pro field outsprinting Sheila Vibert (NHCC) from the Cat 4 field.  Although the fields raced together, they were scored separately so they both won!  Unfortunately, the exertion of the sprint caught up to Sheila after the line and she seemed to lose her concentration long enough to bump into Kristen.  Both tumbled but at that point, 30 yards past the finish line, they had slowed down enough that neither was hurt.  Still, its a lesson to everyone that the race isn't over until you are off your bike or at least have a foot down.

Mens Pro123 - Adam Myerson, Al Donahue, new dad Andy Mills, and about 15 others took the course for 15 laps. Donahue and Sean McCormack (Team Fuji) took off the front of the race about half way through. Sean couldn't hold the pace but Donahue kept going with teammate Dan Greenfield (both Wheelhouse/NCC).  They would hold a two man team time trial until the finish and in the process they even caught and lapped about ten riders. With only a two mile lap, the officals decided to use criterium rules and finish the lapped riders on the same lap as the breakaway that caught them.  So, when Donahue and Greenfield had completed their laps, the officials sent them all down the stem of the lollypop to the finish where Donahue took the win a few yards ahead of the field with Greenfield riding in comfortably for second.  Minutes later, Myerson (Mountain Khakis), who had broken off the front of the main field, rolled in for third to claim a little gas money.  As best known full pro in the race he had been a marked man.  The rest of the field that wasn’t lapped straggled in one at a time for a while until the last unlapped rider (Luke Fortini) finished.  Curiously, he placed 8th despite being the last rider to cross the line.

Masters 45 – Host club Mass Bay Road Club put four riders on the line. A lot of the riders in the field were in their second race of the day including Johnny Bold.  Graydon Stevens was in his third race of the day.  If you are going to drive all the way down from Maine, you might as well make it worth while.  John Stonebarger (MassBay) had a much shorter ride from the other side of Plymouth and did it on his bike.  It would be the perfect warmup except that he didn't realize that the road he took to get to the race was completely flodded in several places, worse even than the intended race course.  He was too far into it to turn back and take a longer route around so he rode through it and arrived at the race with flooded shoes and shoe covers.  This wouldn't probably be noteworthy except that it seemed to help because he won the race.  After a series of attacks late in thelate stages of the race, Stonebarger counter attacked after Johnny Bold tried to go on the high point on the course with half a lap remaining.  Stonebarger made the all-or-nothing move and managed to stay ahead of the entire field to take it all.  Bold crossed the line in second with Joe Rano (Gearworks) right behind for third. 

Next weekend I'll be at Ninigret to do the announcing for the Newhouse Criterium put on by Arc en Ciel racing.  The weather can be challenging there this time of year, but it's always a fun day of racing on the built-for-bycles road loop there.  Where else can you get so much cornering practice in one race?  And, if the weather is decent on Sunday, you just might see me making my season debut with a number on my back at Wells Ave.  I haven't been there in about 15 years, should be interesting.

Thanks for reading.