Imagine riding your bicycle for 30 miles. Now imagine doing 30 miles without stopping, and doing it at an average speed of 27 miles per hour. That’s exactly what 67 racers attempted to do on Saturday morning during the inaugural race of the NUVO/BAP Racing Series at Eagle Creek Park. As many racers were shelled from the back of the main pack, the relentless pace continued for more than 60 minutes during the semi-pro event of the Terrapin Eagle Creek Park Criterium, a race that uses a mile-long course with rolling hills and a climb to the finish line.
From left to right, Ben Weaver (second place), Curtis Tolson (first place) and Todd Cornelius (third place).
After the attacks, skirmishes and head-to-head sprints were finished, two teams had established themselves as the obvious leaders of the NUVO/BAP series. The Texas Roadhouse and NUVO/BAP (Bicycle Action Project) cycling teams are now ranked first and second in the series with 251 and 234 points respectively. Both teams are consistently dominant in local semi-pro races, and appear to be eyeing only each other as they contemplate the summer-long series of eight races, which awards points to teams based on how their riders finish in each one. “Our main tactic for today was to be very aggressive, be as dominant as we could, make sure no moves went without at least one of our guys in there, and we were totally successful at doing that,” NUVO/BAP’s Aaron Hubbell said. “Everybody contributed; everybody did absolutely the most they could.” The NUVO/BAP and Texas Roadhouse teams strategically controlled the race despite the best efforts of others like the West Virginia-Go Mart professional cycling team and the Chicago-based Higher Gear-LeMond Cycling Team. After multiple attempts, it quickly became clear that no breakaway was going to stick unless it had racers from both NUVO/BAP and Texas Roadhouse in it. That winning break was established almost halfway through the 60-minute race with two men from each team — Al Senft and Ben Weaver from NUVO/BAP, and Curtis Tolson and Bob Bobrow from Texas Roadhouse — along with Chris Fabri from Higher Gear and Todd Cornelius from Team Bloomington/Touchstone Energy. There is a theory in bike racing called “out of sight, out of mind,” meaning after the breakaway is formed and out of view, the main pack of riders usually slows down and is content to wait for the field sprint to determine the next available places. However, that theory didn’t hold water on Saturday, as many attacks were launched from the field in attempts to join the break, but were contained by the remaining NUVO/BAP and Texas Roadhouse racers. In the end, it was Texas Roadhouse’s Curtis Tolson, a 39-year-old Category 1 racer from Louisville, Ky., who won the race. Tolson out-sprinted his five breakaway cohorts up the hill to the finish line like a “locomotive” according to Weaver. This victory came only two hours after he won the hour-long Masters 35+ race. The five-time national track champion said only half his team was at the race because the others were attending the Kentucky Derby, but that the Texas Roadhouse team definitely wanted to “be in the hunt” for the NUVO/BAP series. Tolson, who is renowned in the region for his competitiveness, says he races every race to win. “I’ve won a lot of races when I wasn’t at my best,” admitted Tolson, who, like many of the racers, juggles training and racing with a career and a family. “You don’t have to be superhuman. Sometimes if you just go for it, you can win.” As the remaining field prepared for the finish by vying for position at the front of the peleton, with one lap to go two NUVO/BAP racers, Eric Anderson and Declan Doyle, launched Hubbell off the front of the pack at more than 35 miles per hour to win the field sprint for seventh place. Hubbell, a 29-year-old microbiologist and single father, remembered screaming at his lead-out men to “Bury it! Just bury it — go as hard as you can!” Dan Daly, the promoter of the Indiana Race Series (including the Terrapin Eagle Creek Park Criterium), describes the addition of the NUVO/BAP Racing Series to the already intensely competitive local racing scene as pouring “gasoline on the fire.” The next race in the series is the Bulldog Criterium on June 1 on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis. The course is mostly flat with lots of turns, and will provide racers and spectators alike with high-speed racing action. Gasoline, anyone? For more on the racing series, including results, standings and race diaries from the riders, go to nuvobapcycling.com