The Reno Wheelmen
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NorthStar “Hard-Man’s” Criterium
August 5th, 2003

C - Category: field 8

1. Kyle Smith

2. John Marshall

3. Torrey Carroll

4. Jon Wilson

5. Joseph Little

6. Chris Fields

7. Cliff Little

8. Jenny Frayer

A/B - Category (combined): field 28

1. Michael Hernandez

2. Kyle Dixon

3. Jim Barkley

4. Dustin Sweet

5. Steve Kauffman

6. Dan Warren

7. Rick Reynolds

8. Ryan Green

9. Mark Henry

10. Paul Miers

11. Dan Hill
- Report –

Thanks go out to Ross and the folks at NorthStar for putting together another great event. The course was marked extremely well (thanks Dan Warren!), all of the corners were swept clean, and the weather was just plain perfect. I’d never been up to NorthStar, but everyone said how the course was a bit on the epic side…and they were right. The loop takes a shade over 3 minutes, the first 2 minutes you stair-step climb up to the top level of the parking lot and then hang a sweet 180 to drop down through fun, sweeping turns to start the loop over again. Basically, it’s one big interval workout with some technical skills practice thrown in. Awesome!

The C’s had Kyle Smith solo off the front for the last half of the race, taking another win for the year. The chase group of Marshall, Carroll, and Wilson would keep him within range but never quite close the gap. It was pretty cool watching those three bomb through the last corner on the descent (I was doing registration not but 10 meters away…perfect viewing). Jon Wilson was just hurling his bike around that corner with the skills only a downhiller will have. But, Marshall and Carroll were a bit too fit from their season long racing and would be able to power away from him on the last lap.

The A’s and B’s lined up and Ross gave the riders the option of splitting up or just riding in one big group. The B’s voted to lump us all together…Right on, fellers! It was very hip having us all ride together and it shows just how competitive our B riders have become this year – though, I have to admit that it seemed the only riders who showed up to the NorthStar race where the ones with damn good form. Off the line it was Wayne Mackey and the Schroeder Iron-SoCal transplant Chris Wentz, shooting out to a 100 meter lead. The group didn’t immediately chase hard, for which I was quite thankful since I had another zero-warm-up preparation. But, on the next lap the pace began to fire-up significantly. Each time up the climb we seemed to go a bit harder and by the 3rd lap the field was strung-out and the race was on, full-bore.

What was really cool to see was how well all of the B riders were doing. Trust me, the pace was pretty dang hot, but almost every rider who started was digging deep and latched on to the train. I kept waiting for the line to snap, but they just kept hammering. Impressive. Finally, the hard pace up the hill took its toll and a small lead group was formed. Dan Warren, Dustin Sweet, Jim Barkley, Steve Kauffman, Kyle Dixon and myself would open up a gap and start rolling. Dan would be the first to succumb to the pace, but would still finish up 6th. Our lead group would drive hard and soon the gap was assured.

The first bit of drama occurred at the base of the climb when Kauffman would have an almost catastrophic tire blow-out. Let me just mention something: last Sunday I was at the Timpani pro/1/2 criterium in California and there were two similar tire explosions. However, each of those was on a pancake flat, straight as an arrow road. In both of those instances, the flats resulted in horrendous crashes caused by over-reaction and just plain poor bike handling skills. They were ugly. Now, Steve’s flat tire was not on some smooth, straight road – oh, no…his was on an off-camber, high speed turn that was definitely one of the more challenging portions of the course. “Blam!” His tire blows and what does he do? Smoothly straightens out his line and keeps both himself AND his competitors up-right and safe. THAT is how you ride a bike.

A quick wheel change, a well-earned free lap, and he was back in the race with our lead group. As he re-joined the group it was quick nod’s and a few short words of appreciation and respect for the skill and competence he showed during the incident. That’s class. I love our local racing scene. The next lap we took at a more moderate pace, allowing Steve to ease back in to the rhythm of the race, and then…it was back to battle. Kyle made an effort up the second climbing section and on a more exposed section it began to slow-down just enough to allow me to hit them with an acceleration. I was off and my gap looked pretty good. Dustin, Jim, and Steve would start a strong rotation and begin to bring me back. Kyle sat on for a bit and then slammed them with a huge bridging attack. It was crazy – I looked back and there was no one, and then seconds later, “boom!” there’s Kyle 10 feet away. His comment on the bridge was, “well, I had to come help.” Crickey.

So, we teamed up and it was smooth sailing from that point on. Kyle said that it was time to repay the domestique work I’d done for him earlier in the year and the race was mine. Again…class. Behind us it would be a dog-fight between the three chasers. Dustin would attack hard on the last lap, gapping Barkley and Kauffman. But, Barkley would claw his way back and latch on to Dustin’s wheel for the last 300 meters. Through the wicked finishing descent Dustin would scream through the corners but Jim wouldn’t give an inch and was able to find the sprinting legs from somewhere and come around Dustin in the final meters. Steve would come in a few seconds back with Dan Warren riding all others off his wheel for 6th. What a great race. I know there where serious fireworks coming from other groups during the race, maybe we’ll get some race reporting of what happened there…I hope to read some!

OK, so remember we’ve got the Club Challenge tonite at East Valley. Then next Tuesday we have the very hip Franktown ITT. We’ll do the same course we did earlier this year (start at the turn-off to Bowers and do the race course loop through the trees, then back on the main-road…fast and fun). I would really appreciate it if we could get 2 course marshals to show up and help us out. It’s only about an hour of time and the weather should be fine. Send me an email if you can assist the club. Then, next Tuesday we have the Team Time Trial…oh yeah, that is going to be awesome. I have a feeling that the course record might just be broken if we get any help from the winds. Come out and race or watch this beautiful discipline.

And lastly, forgot to mention we have extra sleeveless jerseys for sale, too. Call Jenny and me at 787-2247 if’n you want one.

See you out there,