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Brian Surtees on his TZ250


In the whirl of wheels streaming by- spectators, cheers and late summer blue skies…The Race is on

Historic downtown Basking Ridge, NJ was once again the setting for the 18th annual Olde Mill Inn – Tour of Basking Ridge. The Labor Day race is always an eventful contest near the end of the road cycling season. The  event features 8 separate races accommodating all abilities- from pros to amateurs. Presenting Sponsor, Liberty Cycle puts on a great community event each year.

The 1.12 mile sweeping course features six turns around the bucolic borough. The Start/Finish line located on South Finley Ave and Lewis St., which is the front stretch of the short circuit- that rises and falls into turn 1-  a fast left onto on Henry St that leads to Turn 2- a quick left onto Rankin.

Turn 3 is a sweeping right/left combo onto Dyckman then a slight rise towards the left hander onto Colonial. The final corner, turn 6 is another left onto S Finley to the Finish line.

The final sprint race of the day was the  category 5 event. The competition was a short 5 laps that saw 36 riders line up for the start. Atop my Hutchinson-shod, Pro-Lite carbon frame, I lined up at the start line on the left, about midpack so I would have an inside line into T-1. Local guy Doug Ernst, Joseph Meyer-Fuchs of Oakland and Nick David from Hoboken were among the top favorites and all quickly went to the front at the drop of the starters flag.

Not being a true “racer” (this was the my first race of the season, and really had no training in my legs to speak of- read: I am slow) I planned my strategy around the design of the tight course. I knew that attacking the corners was the only chance I had of a top 20 finish.

As the pack tore off into T-1 I was mired somewhere in between the chaos of lap 1. Immediately I powered through 1, and 2 the left handers, closing up on the guys in front of me. As we headed onto the back part of the course I would lose a bit of ground. But dive bombing the turns would bring me onto the wheels just ahead of me.

I have found that some riders are a bit hesitant and stiff when cornering. I have found that I can exploit that weakness by not slowing and going as fast as I can through the turns- whenever possible. Eight seasons of motorcycle roadracing has its advantages.

The gap to the front grew as I watched the leaders quickly pull away. I settled into a sort of frantic rhythm dicing it out with 4 other riders- who kept the pace at about a 23 – 24 mph average. (good thing this race was only 5 laps!)

Doug, Nick and Joe were picking off riders at the front and waiting for their opportunity to take command. Yours truly was hanging on for dear life in 26th spot with 2 laps to go. The four guys in front of me would gap me on the straights and I would suck right back up in turn 1- a fast sweeping left, which I took at full speed, about 28+ mph.

More riders fell off the lead as Nick and Joe were moving up to the top spots. Lap 4- out of T-2 our pack of 5 pass two guys who seemed like they were standing still. So far I’m thinking- “This is cool, I haven’t been lapped and I actually passed a couple of riders” But I’m sucking wind hard, and my legs are burning with lactic acid.  This was it, the crux of race, gotta hold on one more lap….

Past the start/finish we begin the “bell lap” the final circuit…

The imperfect and often awkward synergy of Man and Machine…merge for a fleeting chance of perceived glory…fore now the battle is between heart and mind

I can hear the crowd but its muffled. My vision is tunneled as I flick the bars and lean the bike in for the hard left. The gap of nearly 50 feet quickly disappears as I close up. I’m sitting last in our group of 5, trying to draft and save any energy I may have left. I’m watching to see if anyone is going to try and jump- as we bend into the right/left combo T-3 & 4- so far nothing.

I wait for turn 5. I swing slight right of the pack and square off the corner. Arc it wide and keep pedaling through the corner, as this gives me the momentum I was looking for. I swoop up on the four riders in front of me and jump out of the saddle to add some power to the pedals- I move right and pass all four.

Meanwhile Joe and Nick had control of the last lap, sprinting towards the finish, as Nick popped up and made his move for the lead and the win. Across the line it was Joe who took the victory followed by Nick and Doug garnering the last podium spot in third.

As I set up for T-6 I glance back to see what- if any gap I might have. I tuck my chin into my left shoulder and see a substantial space between us. As I crest the rise on S Finley I spot another rider just ahead of me. I’m in the drops and keep my head down- but eyes up. I can see he is as tired as me-

Shoulders rocking, cadence faultering…”I have to get this guy, I have to.” I put every last ounce of breath and energy into the my weakening legs and watch the distance between us shrink. The finish line is in sight as I’m closing in on his rear wheel…once again, I swing right and pass the lonely rider- with a familiar grimace on his face.

I fly pass the finish, totally spent. Sitting up I try to catch an elusive breath and give a thumbs up to the guys around me- I make a feeble attempt to say “good race” but not much comes out as I am somewhat oxygen deprived. The guys at the front are not even breathing hard, while me and some of my similar competitors are shagged. smiley

 

My post race thoughts were a combination of satisfaction and disappointment- after finishing 19th of 36 riders. Sure that was a good result for my first race of 2009, but as a ‘competitior’ I wanted better. But what my mind wanted and what my body gave were just not equal- Yet still the moment was good, the day fulfilled.

And in the end, on dreams we will depend…

 

Machine Specs

Frame/Fork: Pro-Lite Carbon  | 53cm

Drivetrain: Ultegra 10 | 53/39 | 12/27

Wheels: Neuvation | M28 Aero 3

Tyres: Huchinson Equinox (slick rear) | Quartz (intermediate front)


  –Basking Ridge | May 27, 2009 | By: p9 SportsGroup

Event Presented by: Ricola USA

The established and rising stars of some of the best road cycling race teams, both domestic and international took part in the 4th annual Ricola Twilight Grand Prix in the historic borough of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The challenging 8 turn, 1.1 mile, spectator friendly circuit snakes through the suburban side streets and up the main road in downtown Basking Ridge. The 44 lap event and race circuit are very demanding of both riders and machines- with its 5 sweeping fast and 3 tight corners that challenge the riders handling skills as much as their speed and endurance.

The temperaturewas a mild 70 degrees with partly sunny skies at the beginning of the race as some 93 riders from about 15 pro and category 1 & 2 cycling teams rolled off the start line. The opening laps pitted Kenda/Inferno racing, Battley Harley Davidson Cycling Team, Canadian Team Planet Energy, Mtn. Khakis Team, Empire Cycling, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Team Team Type 1 and OUCH Pro Cycling Team against one another for about the first quarter of the race.

GP start

Empire Cycling Team briefly led the first few laps before Mtn. Khakis took a turn at the front followed by the Harley Davidson and Kelly riders who struck back taking their team colors to the head of the field. The race was fast-paced and tidy, as the bulk of riders stayed mostly together through the first half. Then the racing action heated up as Battley Harley Davidson made a mini break but was soon caught by the pack. As the last third of the race wound down a handful of riders led by Team Kelley Benefit made another attempt to split and break free but it was short-lived as well.

GP Lee

The tempo was rapid but steady as the pro’s winded their way through some of the narrow streets, inches from curbing and hay bales- the action, swift and intense. The group bent their bikes in- leaning hard left sweeping around Lee Place then a quick cut right on to Hillside Terrace as the tight pack tucked in and drafted up No./So. Finley across start-finish one more time.

 GP Finley

Lap after lap, turn after turn, the 90 plus rider field was whittled down to about 30 with 10 circuits to go. Soon after, team Mtn. Khakis made a solo effort to break away and began to gap the main field by about 15 seconds. But on the penultimate lap the fury of the speeding pack in the final sprint reeled him in and one became 20+ riders flying on the road at over 35 mph- pegged at their absolute limits heading to the final bell lap.

 

GP finish

Up South Finley Street on the main finishing stretch of road- it was Aldo Ino of Team Type 1 and Kazane-brand mounted Eric Barlevav from Mtn Khakis  fighting it out- as the Slovenian Ino nipped Barlevav at the line with Francois Parisien aboard his sleek and swift Argon 18 of Planet Energy Racing team taking third. The 44 lap Ricola GP went by quick- as the riders clicked off lap after lap with speeds touching just over 40 mph in some sections of the course. Thankfully there were only minor incidents that saw only 2 crashes, one being a Champion Systems rider that was relatively unhurt. In the end, the average speed of the event was a very stout 32.2 mph.

Top Three Finishers:

  • 1st place – Aldo Ino | Team Type 1
  • 2nd place – Eric Barlevav | Mtn Khakis Racing
  • 3rd place – Francois Parisien | Planet Energy Racing

Fourth to Tenth Place:

Maxime Vives | Planet Energy
Jonathan Page | Battley HARLEY-DAVIDSON/Sonoma Grill
Clayton Barrows | CRCA/Empire Cycling Team
Cheyne Hoag | Kelly Benefit Strategies
Chad Burdzilauskas | Kenda Pro Cycling
Stephan Kincaid | CRCA/Empire Cycling Team
Ryan Anderson | Kelly Benefit Strategies

GP podium

A big round of applause goes out to all of the riders and teams as well as Ricola, Base Camp, The Store and Liberty Cycle. The racing was great and the excited, cheering fans who lined roads were treated to a unique display of athleticism, determination and passion all rolled into one fast, galant battle of men and their machines. See you in 2010!

Larger/Additional Photos: http://www.p9group.8m.com/photo2.html


 –Basking Ridge, NJ

Part II

For those who may not know, Basking Ridge/Bernards Township is situated in the Pharma belt of Somerset County- which is also the second wealthiest county in New Jersey.

The Bernards Twp/Basking Ridge area is home to the corporate offices of AT&T, Verizon and The United States Golf Association. Basking Ridge boasts its own country club as well, with an 18 hole PGA golf course.

Ridge High School, one of the best rated in the state was ranked second overall in 2007.  There is no doubt that Basking Ridge is a much sought after, desirable community and a nice place to live- just ask any of its 26,000 residents.

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Quick Stats

Bernards Township is one of the most expensive boroughs to reside within Somerset County, as well as the state. The cost of living is 68.66% higher than the national average.

The median house value is approximately $685,000, with median property taxes just over $9,500 and the median household income above $128,000.

The public school budget rings in at a hefty $84,007,764. The cost per pupil is over $11,000 (24% higher than the state average) with a total student cost of approximately $68,500,000. Which leaves approximately $17,000,000 for expenditures. Salaries, vehicles, athletics, etc. A very healthy budget indeed.

The general tax levy in Basking Ridge has increased a massive 110% in 10 years. Rising over 11% annually, (more than double the cost of living) from $30,128,190 to $66,837,438.

The only aspect that keeps the very beautiful and historic borough from being an exclusive bedroom community is the four thousand plus condominium units throughout the township.

Those 4,000 units have a median price in the neighborhood of $300,000. These more affordable options (evidently to the chagrin of some locals) are approximately half the cost of most single family homes in Basking Ridge.

Who invited you to the party?

The Ricola Race has the distinction of being the only professional sporting event to take place in Basking Ridge and immediate surounding area (excluding the Somerset Patriots Baseball team). This alone should be a fantastic draw for the fast-paced, excitment filled event.

You want reality? The race is the best reality show around, happening real-time, up close and in your face. No other sport allows the spectator to get so close to the athlete- while he or she is competing! Cycling offers unique perspectives and unprecedented access.

Interestingly enough the only other two other major annual events that take place in Bernards Twp., are the Far Hills Race Meeting Steeplechase and the Music at Moorland Farms Summer Symphony. Both of which get a lot of attention and exposure from the local media, surounding townships and presenting sponsors.

It seems as though the bicycle race may not be perceived in the same vein as the equestrian, golfing and symphonic events. But a look at the social and sporting statistics of bicycling tells a different tale.

FYI

Cycling is the second most popular recreational activity in the United States.

Cycling demographics cover three areas of interest. Recreational, Racing and Spectator Events. Like most professional sports the race participation is male dominated. Though unlike most sports, cycling has a very large female recreational and spectator base.

Demographics

grids

  • Cycling is the #1 fitness and health activity among doctors and lawyers over the age of 40.  
  • Cycling is the second most popular recreational activity behind sport walking.
  • 17-million bicycles are sold in the United States each year.  
  • The mean price for a professional racing bike is $3,500.  
  • Household income for 45-49 year old licensed racers. ($95,940)

  Source: Simmons, MRI, USA Cycling Membership, Bicycling Magazine

There is no doubt that the sport of cycling is very popular and attracts a wide array of participants who take part in one way or another.


 -Basking Ridge, NJ

Part I

ricola_grand_big

The 4th annual Ricola Twilight Grand Prix cycling race is set to take place on Wednesday, May 27th in the bucolic borough of Basking Ridge New Jersey.

The elite cycling event attracts a good number of pro and pro-am riders from all over the country including a small contingent of globally based riders as well.

Though not a points paying race for these pro’s and non-pro’s , the large attractive purse of $10,000 in prize money is definitely a strong pull for the 120+ competing riders. Most of whom were already in town for the oldest bicycle race in the country- the 50 mile Tour of Somerville, which will have run its 66th edition on Memorial Day.

The Ricola GP organizers capitalized on the Somerville classic, taking advantage of logistics by staging their race just 2 days after the ToS event. Local bicycle shop Liberty Cycle and its owner/operator, Greg Cordasc was instrumental in bringing the event to the Somerset County borough.

The race takes place in historic downtown Basking Ridge, with the riders passing along the main line of retailers along South Finley Avenue. The circuit layout is key in showcasing the many types of retail stores and services in the borough.

The race course is not the typical “criterium” style course and is regarded as one of the most technical short race circuits in the U.S. It features a 1.1 mile loop that offers a combination of 8 tight and sweeping corners every lap over the 44 mile race distance.

There are plenty of ideal spectating spots where fans get up close and personal- just inches away from some of the best elite riders- sweeping past in excess of 35 mph, which makes it unique and exciting to watch.

small alp horns

The event offers some interesting and fun pre-race activities such a BMX riding and tricks demo, the Bonnie Brae Knights Drum Corp. and the Ricola Swiss Alp horn players. The organizers have made the event appealing not only to cycling fans, but the whole family and all ages as well.

Obtaining the headline sponsor, Ricola USA was a huge ‘get’ for the event, providing visibility, name recognition and a lot of potential market appeal. With such a major sponsor, you would think that the race would be a fairly big attraction for the borough.  After all, it is a professional sporting event.

But apparently that is where that thought ends. It is somewhat painfully obvious that borough officials of Basking Ridge do not exactly embrace the event- for whatever inexplicable or unapparent reasons they may have.

Spectator turn out is decent, but certainly nowhere near its true potential. The racing event has tremendous appeal, but does not yield the bigger, more enthusiastic type crowds at other similar cycling events within the area, such as the Tour of Somerville.

There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the solid efforts from the promotion of the race and the townships lack of efforts to publicize and market the race- in fact, one could even say they almost seem to undermine it.

(a topic further explained in parts II & III)

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