The NUVO/BAP Brookside Classic, the finale of the seven-race NUVO/BAP Racing Series, unofficially marked the end of the local bicycle-racing season at historic Brookside Park on Sunday. Although they were handily leading the series by over 300 points before Sunday’s race, the NUVO/BAP Cycling Team left nothing to chance, as double points were available to the top 30 finishers in the Men’s Category Pro/1/2/3 main event. Thirteen NUVO/BAP racers lined up to defend their lead against competitors from other local and regional teams who were simply looking to win the “last” race of the season.
Racing series winners, NUVO/BAP, holding the annual series trophy. Row one (left to right): Rich DuFour, Declan Doyle, Dean Peterson, Chris Gottwald, Aaron Hubbell. Row two (left to right): Kevin Noone, Jeff Weaver, Ben Weaver, Jeff Leibovitz. Row three (left to right): Dan Houchin, Kevin McKinney, Al Senft.
The pace was relentless from the start, with the field strung out single file through the finishing straight as attacks were made in attempts to create a breakaway group. Those attempts were thwarted by the main field for the first 30 minutes of the 60-minute race. At that point, a $50 halfway cash prize was dangled in front of the charging field. West Virginia-Go Mart’s Mike Kehrberg attacked on the backside of the .6-mile course before the hill climb to take the money and start the breakaway that would establish itself for the remainder of the race. He was soon joined by NUVO/BAP’s Declan Doyle, Pat Collier from Big Shark Racing and Spin City’s Jeffrey Schroetlin. By all accounts, the foursome worked well together — increasing their lead over the main field by up to 45 seconds — until the last few laps of the race. “We worked together and then we settled in,” Doyle said after the race, “and then we got too comfortable, started to slow down, and then our 45-second gap came down to 20. And then I started to panic a little bit.” While the lead group slowed down, some last-ditch efforts to join them were occurring in the main field. As a few racers rode off the front, the main pack accelerated, further endangering the original breakaway of four. When the bell was rung signifying one lap to go, the pace hit its peak as the three groups — breakaway, chase and field — set up for the final sprint. When the racers crested the top of the hill on the final lap, spectators were amazed to see the chase group had caught the breakaway, and the field was nipping at their heels. Winning by a few tire widths, Kehrberg hit the finish line just ahead of Schroetlin. NUVO/BAP’s Doyle was third, Curtis Tolson of Texas Roadhouse was fourth and fifth place went to Mark Hekman from Michigan. The NUVO/BAP Cycling Team won the series by 521 points over Texas Roadhouse from Louisville, Ky. Although Texas Roadhouse made a strong run at the series earlier in the season — even leading it at one point — they failed to send riders to the last few races of the series due to injury and fatigue. Although creating a new racing series and then winning it was quite an accomplishment for the NUVO/BAP Cycling Team, they ended up doing something even more meaningful when they awarded a check for $2,100 to the Bicycle Action Project for its Earn-A-Bike program from proceeds raised by the series. “We’ve been here since 1988, and about 500 young people a year attend,” BAP Executive Director Nancy Hart says of the non-profit’s Earn-A-Bike program. “It’s an expensive proposition. There’s no cost to the students; we raise all of our money from foundations, corporations and individuals. We always need volunteers, money and bikes.” BAP’s Earn-A-Bike program serves at-risk youth by teaching them how to repair and maintain a bicycle. After 26 hours of hands-on and classroom training, participants earn the bike they worked on by passing practical and written tests. Hart says the program’s true success is in giving the kids “life skills and work skills” they will use from that point forward. “The mission of BAP is to provide young people with the opportunity to experience honest success using the bicycle as a hands-on educational tool,” she emphasizes. “Winning the series is cool,” says NUVO/BAP racer Dean Peterson, “but even if we hadn’t won, we still would have given BAP $2,100.” Peterson, who is also a board member of BAP, added, “Using your hobby to give back is a good feeling and it has meaning. It makes it something worthwhile.”