Originally Posted November 8, 2011
Huntersville NC – By Jon Clark
Charlotte area racers were treated to a tight, technical course for round 2 of the North Meck Cyclocross Series on Tuesday night. The race management crew from Charlotte Sports Cycling added a spiral section, several off-camber turns, and reversed the course direction from last week- providing a good challenge and a much different feel from last week’s course.
A large field enjoyed warm weather and dry conditions, and also generously supported the Stauffer family’s charitable efforts to gather donations for Statesville’s Fifth Street Ministries. For the second year in a row, the Stauffers have provided free fresh-cooked waffles and drinks in return for donations of food, clothing, household items, and cash for the Ministry. The donation box was full by the end of the night, and two races remain to help out even more.
The cyclocross race schedule kicked off with the CX Masters 35+ leading the way, followed again by CX 4 and CX Women one minute behind. Series sponsor Carolina Bicycle Company was well represented in Masters with several orange jerseys lining up at the front of the field. Fresh off his CX 3 win at the NCCX Salisbury race two days earlier, Rich Tsui (American Classic/Cycleworks) jumped in the middle of the Carolina train. John Koury and Bruce Stauffer (Cool Breeze/Trek Bicycle Store) gave chase as Mike Kelly led from Carolina teammates Luke Sagur, Noel Kirila, and Jim Shelton. Koury moved to second as Kelly tried to gap the field, but the top five would not let him get away. Sagur took the last shot at Kelly as the 30 minute race wound down, but Kelly held him off for his second straight series win. Koury capped off a strong ride for third while Bruce Stauffer and Noel Kirila rounded out the top five.
CX 4 had another huge field with almost 40 cyclocross racers trying their hand in the beginner class. Cameron Moss(Blood, Sweat, and Gears) was off to another fast start with Travis Beam(Live it Extreme) and Scott George close behind. The spiral section of the course was one of the best viewing areas on the course, and spectators saw some tight racing as it took several laps to sort out the front runners from the large group. Charlie Mullins, Chase Prezioso(Queen City Bicycles), Corbitt Bourne, and Rodney Almeida(Try Sports) all started moving to the front as the leaders tried to hold their positions. Starting the final lap, Prezioso and Mullins had a small gap on the field as Almeida consolidated third place. Mullins passed Prezioso to take the win with Almeida, Scott George, and Greg Sheehan in the top five.
Arleigh Jenkins (em:pwr) soloed in as the lone CX Women’s entry, racing among the CX 4 field. The series is a great place to try out cyclocross in a low stress and beginner-friendly atmosphere, so grab or borrow a mountain bike, cx bike, or even a hybrid and come join the fun. Google search “Katie Compton” or “Meredith Miller” for a little Women’s CX inspiration.
The second race of the night had CX Open again sharing the course with CX3/4. Issac Enderline of the BMC/Hincapie Sportswear team looked to be the early favorite in CX Open, as last week’s winning team American Classic/Blue was not here to defend their point lead. Justin McKean (Giordana-Clif Bar-BRICA) got a good start and sat on Enderline’s wheel, followed by McKean’s teammate Mike Byrd who had just finished the previous Masters race. Marty Cloer and Terry Jennings gave chase, along with three more racers who were also doubling down and running both races back-to-back. Chase Prezioso moved up to run with the big boys, while Rich Tsui and Bruce Stauffer also got in some extra laps. Enderline had just started to build a gap over McKean when his rear tire suddenly flatted, leaving Justin to solo in for victory. Stauffer eventually moved through the field to take second, with Byrd holding on for a podium spot in third. Cloer took fourth and Jennings came home fifth.
Gregory Frame had some competiton this week in CX 3/4 as he was joined by Chris Sugar, Steve Noiret, and George Balfanz Jr (Cool Breeze/Trek Bicycle Store) at the front. Sugar moved to the lead, and a small group stayed together and tried to move clear of the field. Darren Fuller and Chris Joseph gave chase, but Noiret, Frame, and Sugar pulled away from the field and settled the race among themselves. Frame gave a valiant effort on his mountain bike, but could not hold on to the slightly faster CX bikes. Noiret held off Sugar for the win, followed by Frame, Fuller, and Joseph.
Round Three returns to North Meck Park next Tuesday night, with open practice at 5 pm and racing starting at 6. Enjoy a night ride on the mountain bike trail, then join the crowd for great cyclocross racing and free waffles for charity!