Huntersville NC. Written by Jon Clark
The North Meck Cyclocross Series kicked off Tuesday night in Huntersville with great weather and a fast dry course for the opening round. For the fourth year of this USAC sanctioned training series, promoter Neal Boyd used a similar course setup from previous years- featuring traditional barriers, wooden stair- step run-ups, and a short gravel section near one of the softball fields. The course winds through several flat grassy areas, but takes advantage of some sidehills and off-camber sections as well. North Meck Park has lights for the softball and soccer fields, and the course is well-lit for night racing.
The series is well supported by three local bike shops- Cool Breeze Cyclery/ Trek Bicycle Store, Queen City Bicycles, and Carolina Bicycle Company- and all three had team riders on the podium throughout the evening.
The first race had two groups starting at 6pm- CX Masters 35+ followed one minute later by CX4.
At the start of the Masters cyclocross race, Luke Sagur (Carolina Bicycle Co.) and Rich Tsui (American Classic/Blue) were off to a fast start, with riders shuffling for position behind them. Luke’s teammate Mike Kelly came to the front along with Bruce Stauffer (Cool Breeze/Trek Bicycle Store). Kelly and Stauffer began to ease away from the field as Carolina teammates Sagur and Noel Kirila took turns surging up to the leaders. Stauffer took the lead with 2 laps to go, turning lap times just under 5:00. Over the barriers for the last time, Sagur slipped and lost contact with the leaders for good. Kelly attacked Stauffer down a dirt path a few hundred meters from the finish, and held him off by 2 seconds at the line. Sagur held on for third, with Cleve Blackwell and Noel Kirila rounding out the top 5.
CX4 had the biggest field of the night, and it took several laps to sort out the front-runners. Teammates Mark Born and Cameron Moss (Blood, Sweat, and Gears) went off the front early with Travis Beam (Live it Extreme). Laps 2 and 3 saw Chase Prezioso (Queen City Bicycles) run down the leaders and go off the front, as B.C. Roberts and Charlie Mullins tried to come with him. There were some great battles for position and very close racing through the middle laps, but Prezioso stretched out his lead for the rest of the 30 minute race and won handily over Roberts and Mullins. Rodney Almeida (Try Sports) finished fourth while Moss held on for fifth.
The second cyclocross race also had two groups going off at 6:40pm- CX Open and CX3/4. The CX3/4 race gives the beginners a chance to get in more laps, and test their skills against some faster riders.
It was the Gregory Frame show in CX3/4, as he led from the start and was never challenged. Chase Prezioso of the Queen City team moved into second place and held it for the full 45 minute event- a strong showing immediately after his win in the previous CX4 race. Rodney Almeida (Try Sports) also did the double and held third place for most of the race. Corbitt Bourne and Jason Marshall rounded out the top 5.
CX Open put on a great show, with local favorites Robert Marion and Chase Dickens of the American Classic/Blue team taking on Isaac Enderline of the BMC/Hincapie Sportswear squad. Marion and Dickens started very fast and were joined by Justin McKean (Giordana-Clif Bar- BRICA) and Andrew Raab (Bicycle Sport). Raab led over the barriers on lap one as the group of five riders settled in. A crash by Raab soon after saw the group split, with Marion and Dickens getting a small gap to the others. Enderline worked to catch back up while McKean consolidated fourth place. Raab battled for fifth with Bruce Stauffer (Cool Breeze/Trek Bicycle Store). Marion put in a move just after halfway, while his teammate marked Enderline, but Isaac didn’t let him get very far and the trio was soon back together. Dickens and Marion worked well together, and opened up a small gap on Enderline by the last lap. Chase made a move before the final grass section, and held off Marion to the line. Enderline came home third, followed by Justin McKean and Bruce Stauffer.
The series returns to North Meck Park for three more races- November 8, 15, and 29. The events and course are very beginner friendly, and although no women showed up for opening night there are women’s classes available. If you have never tried cyclocross, bring a few friends and your mountain bikes and give it a try!