2014 Nevada City Bicycle Classic

With his victory today in the Pro/1/2 race, Walton Brush of Team Mikes Bikes, added his name to an honored list of past champions of the Nevada City Bicycle Classic. That list includes the likes of Bob Parsons, John Howard, Todd Gogulski, Scott Moninger, Alexi Grewal, Levi Leipheimer and, of course, Greg Lemond. A select group of 142 photos can be seen at Flickr - here is the link to the album. As usual these are only a portion of the total taken during the day; if you are looking for someone in particular let me know.

Walton Brush celebrates victory over his two surviving breakaway companions

Outnumbered at this point by a trio of Team Swift riders, Cole Davis (Limitless Cycling) would prove to be The Racer this day by winning the Junior Men 15-16 race, as well as the two-day omnium for that age group.

next best thing to a summer shower, riders take advantage of the garden hose
during the Masters 35+ and 45+ races

Masters racing against a backdrop of mountain greenery

the Women's race charges up a steeper pitch of road en mass early in the competition. the women's field may very well have been the most talented of the day, and it showed in the racing

Cat 3s (above and below) may not have reached the pinnacle of the sport yet,
but they never fail to put on a terrific show

a pair of teammates race past a gathering of spectators at the top of the course during the Pro/1/2 race

the real question needing to be answered is - how many riders rubbed the Buddha belly for luck before their race?

Another year, another Nevada City Bicycle Classic (NCBC) that did not disappoint - neither any of the afternoon's races, nor the host town. Once a year, on Fathers Day, the little old gold mining-era burg in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento, puts on its collective cycling cap and turns out for one of the best one-day races, in one of the more unique settings on the west coast. That they have been doing so for fifty-four years says something about the nature of the race, the commitment and involvement of the community, something shared by other successful races, and those that would seek to attain the same status.

Think of the course at NCBC as a downward pointed triangle with a long uphill side, a long downhill side, and a shorter, mostly flat side across the top. That uphill side throws several right and left ninety degree turns at you, with some steeper pitches to keep you on your toes. Like many similar races, racing the hill once would be little problem, it is the repetition lap after lap that takes its toll. The downhill side can be scary fast, and there is a reason for those double and triple-stacked hay bales along the bottom turns which don't quite work to slingshot you on your way back uphill.

The town, as it always seems to be this time of year, was decorated in bunting and all manner of red, white and blue banners either as holdouts from Memorial Day or in anticipation of Independence Day. The race provided the fireworks, the spectators oohing, awing and cheering as riders lit up the streets with sprints and attacks, and near-mishaps.

The Juniors took to the course first, and between some five different age groups, you can usually find a National Champions jersey in the ranks of those attempting to prove themselves on the challenging course. That was no less true this year, as Luke Lamperti and his team (Team Swift), appeared set to dominate based on sheer numerical superiority alone. (In case you don't follow Junior racing too closely, young Mr. Lamperti swept the Junior National Road Championships in the 10-12 age group during July last year.) In the end both Luke and his brother, Gianni, won their respective age groups. Team Swift also took the win in the Women's 17-18 group (Emily Abraham), as well as two second place podium spots. In both of those races the Team Swift riders were beaten to the line by riders from the Endless Cycling Racing Team - Cole Davis, beat Ben Cook in the Junior Men 15-16 race, and Connor Ellison beat Ryan Clarke in the Junior Men 17-18 race. 

The Masters racers can always be counted on to prove that cycling is not just a young persons sport. NCBC plays host to two Masters races - 35+ and 45+, who circle the course at the same time, but are scored separately. This year saw Michael Sayers, formerly of the Mercury, Healthnet, and BMC professional teams, competing in the 35+ race with Team HSP (Harriott Sports Performance). Of course prestige alone will not win you a race. That proved to be the case today as Andres Gil (Michael David Winery) took the win ahead of Matt Adams (Team Mikes Bikes), and Scott Bromstead (Team Mikes Bikes) in that 35+ race. In the 45+ race it was Dan Shore (unattached) winning ahead of Dan Bryant (Team BP / Sierra Nevada) and Scotti Fonseca (Team Mikes Bikes).

During all those years of racing Masters gather considerable amounts of experience which, hypothetically helps their riding, and racing strategy. I found out today it also helps their aim. As I stood at the sideline just beyond the water feed and shower zone, first one and then another discarded water bottle came to rest perfectly placed between my firmly planted feet. A little later, my son, who had witnessed the precision suggested next year someone set up a sort of bean bag toss with prizes for the most accurate tossers of bottles. Not a bad idea - once you are out of contention here, you are out for the duration.

The Women Pro/1/2 and 3/4 races followed after the Masters whose spinning wheels and passing wind failed to sweep that lower point of the triangle clear of little bits of blown hay. Out came the brooms and leaf blowers to clear the problem. Quite a stellar group of women gathered for the race, including Kathryn Donovan and Alison Tetrick of Twenty-16 Pro Cycling, Melanie Wong of Leopard - Sapporo, Elle Anderson of Vanderkitten Racing, and a familiar name around SoCal racing, Julie Cutts now racing with Velos Sports. Even with a solid core of talent, or maybe because of it, the race followed the typical pattern of almost immediate disintegration. Time flew by as quickly as the racers did, and for those of us spectating along the top of the course, laps followed one another in a processional blur; eventually the rapid yet sporadic procession ceased. We assumed the race must be over. Many multiples of minutes later the women began to race by again, gaps great and gaps small, separating them. It was only later we discovered that the race had been neutralized, momentarily stopped in fact, due to a crash requiring medical attention and a hospital visit. Hope the recovery is neither too long, nor too painful. At the end of the restarted race Katie Hall, of United Healthcare Pro Cycling took the win over Donovan and Tetrick. In the 3/4 race it was Bethany Allen (IRT-Reactor) finishing ahead of Libby Painter (OTR) and Sonja Klein (Pacific Crush Racing).