The campus of Marian College served as the backdrop for the 12th annual Midwest Cycling Classic this past Saturday. With collegiate races and open racing, the cycling season in Indianapolis is officially in gear.
Nearly 50 men started the one-hour race that wove through a highly technical and very tight circuit on the Marian campus. The pace was relentlessly fast and, for the majority of the race, no single group was able to permanently break the bond from the main pack.
Small groups dangled off the front with gaps of mere seconds as the pack blasted through the turns in a single-file line. Meanwhile, the less fit and the unprepared were mercilessly spat out the back to be unceremoniously removed from the race.
In the final 10 laps, unbelievably, the pace ratcheted up a notch from its already blazing speed. The added tension was palpable as the strongest riders in the race made last-ditch attempts for the win. With five laps remaining, Midwest strongman Mark Schwarzendruber powered off the front.
My NUVO-Cultural Trail teammates did their best to close the distance on Schwarzendruber but were unable to organize an effective chase. Our focus shifted to the final sprint in the main field. Seventeen-year-old Joe Kukolla and I rocketed to the line at 40 miles per hour as we knocked handlebars and put our elbows into each other. I narrowly edged Kukolla, a rider half my age, at the line for second place overall. It was the most fun I have had in a sprint in a very long time.
A very fast and hard event in which I place well is always encouraging, especially this early in a racing season. I do, however, need to be careful: This first race of the Indianapolis cycling season finished with two “older” guys narrowly edging out the next generation. The young guys are nipping at our heels and they will soon — perhaps sooner than we wish — overtake us.
The NUVO-Cultural Trail racing schedule for 2008 is still being finalized, but seven races are scheduled thus far. For more information go to www.nctcycling.com.
April 13 Kruse, Inc. Victory Criterium, Auburn, Ind.
June 29 Zionsville Grand Prix, Zionsville, Ind.
July 12 Louisville Criterium, Louisville, Ky.
July 18 Major Taylor 10-mile Scratch, Indianapolis, Ind.
Aug. 9 Marion Classic Criterium, Marion, Ind.
Aug. 17 Village of West Clay, Carmel, Ind.
Sept. 13 Saturn Tour of Noblesville, Noblesville, Ind.