GNCC Fish Trails Crit 2008

Great Northern Cycling Club would like to thank all who came out and supported a great day of racing and to all the volunteers, especially Flatehead Cycling!

Also, a big shout to all GNCC tifoso and our squadra, who chamois upped and braved the cold wet day…

Bear+Brenda+Chris+Craig+Howard+Russell+Paul+Dr. J+Nicolas+Susen-Marie+Carol

Ceres Bakery in Kalispell+Taco del Sol+Vail Mountain Coffee and The Daily Habit coffee bar for the great prizes !!

GNCC Rider Russell Mallums getting it done.

Before The 2008 Fish Trails Omnium gets put away into my cerebral filing cabinet I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of another great weekend of racing in Montana. Let me start by pointing out that I think that 2008 will go down our memories as the “year our chamois grew mold.” Sunshine please come back! This wet weekend provided me with two first time experiences; the first was being a race director and the second was racing as a cat. 3. Both were challenging, anxiety provoking and personally satisfying. But enough about me – let’s get to the good stuff…..

The rain trimmed much of the fat off the fields, leaving only the frost-hardened racers to battle it out in downtown Whitefish. Small fields mean there is nowhere to hide. We all had to stick our noses in the wind today. After the kid’s race the juniors toed the line and were the first to test out the quality of the State Championship Criterium course. The blow by blow details already escape me; however, a young MJCF/RU rider named Nate Weston powered across the line looking like a young Robbie McEwen pumping his fists in the air.

The next field was the combined ladies race. This race was a green blur with the Northern Rockies Women controlling the field at all times. Flathead Cycling Lynette Vanaken fought as hard as she could to keep up with the “Lime Green Machine” but NRO ladies organized really well and kept the tempo high with short pulls and shared labor. With Lynette stuck in “no woman’s” land a chase group consisting of three Great Northern Cycling riders worked together to shorten the advantage of the green girls in front, but NRO would have none of that. Tamara Bessette gave a leadout fit for the Champs-Elysees to teammate Megan Slivka, who took the win with pride.

The next race was the combined Masters field, and the competition was fierce. The number of dark green jerseys in that race made Alex Gallegos look like a lone carrot surrounded by a plate full of peas. If I did not know Alex and Michael Longmire to be tougher than wood pecker lips, I would be temped to say that they were shaking in their chamois at the starting line and not because they were cold. A few laps into the race Longmire, Greenburg, Lanstrom and Gallegos got in a break from the peleton that stuck. Lanstrom was charging hard on the last corner setting Greenburg up for the sprint but tragedy struck when his tires lost contact with the asphalt and “blam” down he went causing Greenburg to come to almost a complete stop with an unobstructed view of Gallegos and Longmire sprint away to the finish line. Revenge for the Hamilton crit beating was Mike’s when he piped Alex at the line for the win. The chasing peleton roared in behind like a pack of blood thirsty hounds chasing a fox.

The second biggest group of the day huddled at the start line as rain continued to fall on the underfed lycra clad lads of the sr. men cat 4/5 field. The familiar faces of the peleton, rising star Willy Zellmer, Jeff “Hushodv” Twohig, Kyle Shannon, Miles Key and Muleterro “fashionista” Cory Hardy were joined by many new faces to scene. Great Northern Cycling’s very own directeur sportif Craig Prather was accompanied by teammates Nicholas Broskovich, “Bear” Barenowski and our newest team mate (I signed him up at registration!) Chris Connolly, who chose the FTO to make their premier appearance in competition this year. Also, making a rare cycling appearance was Ben Ruffato dressed like combination of Larry the Cable Guy and Richard Simmons. This was going to be no sit in race for Willy Z.; he attacked hard and often. Ben, Chris and Craig took turns covering his attacks. Finally late in the race Willy got one that stuck and he lapped some dropped racers. Chris and Ben bridged to the lone man out front and passed him on one of the last few laps. Willy, tired and wet after a long race on the front, was gobbled by the chasing peleton. Working harder than Simmons “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” Ben powered across the line with Connelly in tow.

The sr. men 1, 2 and 3 field finally was called to the line. Nerves fried from a day of organizing and stressing out unnecessarily, I was reminded of my first races when I could care less about a spot on the podium: I just wanted to keep up with the peleton. The same was true for me today. “Please don’t let me get dropped or take anyone out!” I begged the cycling gods. I was finally here at the line with the big boys. “Josh Tack, Andrew Fisher, Clint Muhlfeld, Alex Lussier, Noonie. These are the guys I have been watching tear up criterium courses for the last five years, “what the @*%@ am I doing here!” My anxiety begins to spiral as Don yells, “Go!” The group took the first few laps easy, getting the feel for the wet corners. The pace was swift, however we were not strung out. I hung nervously at the back staying vigilant for warnings signs of an intimate encounter with the asphalt. Once I became comfortable with the corners and confident that I could hang with the average pace, I decided that it was time to move up in the pack. I looked for a wheel I trusted. I wish I could tell you about what was going on at the front but I had my hands full just sitting in. I am pretty sure that Brad Morgan got off of the front for a while near the end; however, the Bob’s cycling guys were not letting anyone get away for long. With about five laps to go while coming around corner six there was that all too familiar sound of a bike going down skidding of metal across the asphalt a GAS rider went down. The pace got hot for the last couple of laps. I chose Eric Digby’s wheel as my lead out to the finish and timed it just right to come around him while he was focused on his timing to come around Elliot! As I sprinted for the finish line I felt myself scream as I poured every ounce of energy into my pedals to keep my acceleration going. Yes! I survived. Chris from Bob’s Cycling got Bob Presta in the sprint but not by much. Josh pulled in third and decided that he would get off of his bike rather than go around corner one after the finish line; however, he forgot to stop his bike first and ended up doing the slip and slide across the road instead. It was such a smooth “lay down and slide” that I am still not sure whether he did it on purpose or not.

Well, even though racing was over the rain wasn’t. It continued to drizzle as we presented the awards. Cash and a baguette from Ceres Bakery in Kalispell for second and third, cash and flowers for the winners. Thanks for reliving the experience with me. If you made it out to the race, thank you for coming. If you didn’t I hope that you can make it next year – we are already planning how we can make it better.


Howard Williams


Results Here (pdf)

Flathead Beacon report

All the fantastic fotos by Natasha Westphal. Click Here



1 Response to “GNCC Fish Trails Crit 2008”

  1. 1 realigner June 11, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Howard, thanks for putting on the event. It was top notch, despite the rain. Nice reporting too. I can’t wait to get back up there and race again.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: