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Saturday, April 1, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
2000 Spring Bike Race Series #3
(PMVC 5-Mile Bike Omnium)

Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Team TT & Mass Start] [ITT O/A] [ITT by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]

Pittsburgh Oval
Racing around the Pittsburgh Oval
The weather in Pittsburgh was no joke on April Fool's Day with plenty of sunshine and warming temperatures throughout the morning and early afternoon. Perfect conditions for Saturday's racing on Pittsburgh's 1/2-mile Cycling Oval where a great group of men and women came out to test their early season legs.

The race was the third, in as many weeks, and the final event in the Pittsburgh Masters Velo Club's (PMVC) 2000 Spring Bike Race Series. The challenges that where set for the field of riders included a 5-mile team time trail, a 5-mile individual time trail, and a mass start 10-mile handicap race.

A dozen teams took to the track at 10:00am, each starting a minute apart. Teams could have up to four riders, but it was the moment when the third rider completed 10 laps that the team's time was recorded.

Taking advantage of this format was the PMVC 1 team (R van Dijk - B Kanarek - J Lobert - A Rotondi) who dropped one rider along the way to clocking the fastest team time of 11:28, averaging just over 26 mph. This seasoned team, out of Pittsburgh's East End, consists of riders between the ages of 35 and 45 who have been riding together for a number of years. Rotating with 1/2 lap pulls, the smooth team skills gave them just enough speed for the win. Taking second, just three seconds back at 11:31, was Fox Velo I (H Dimmick - S Jackson - J Miller - J Bell).

Girls Rock II
Girls Rock II work their paceline
While there aren't quite enough female competitors to warrant a separate race, Girls Rock II (B Grabowski - C Fisher - S Neeld) held there own among the men with a time of 12:48, averaging well over 23 mph. The women fielded a second team of less accomplished riders, but they support each other wonderfully in an attempt to attract more women to the sport. Putting the faster women together on one team has its advantages. As Sharon Neeld said, "We put together a team that has a chance to beat some of the boys," and with a grin she added, "We like to do that."

With the teams all completing their circuits around the oval, it was time to race every person for themselves in the individual time trials. Again staggering the starts, the riders attacked the pavement as they competed in four categories, men under 25, men 24-40, men 40 and over, and women.

Pounding out another women's course record for the second straight week was Barbara Grabowski. Saying she was motivated from her previous week's performance, she took nine seconds off her time to post a new record of 12:56. This was plenty fast enough to win the women's title over Carolyn Fisher who finished in 13:38. While the women's teams couldn't quite overtake any of the men's, their individual performances left plenty of the "boys" behind.

Jeff Bell
Jeff Bell looks for speed in the banked turns
Among the men, the largest and fastest contingent was in the 25-39 year age group. Putting on a dominating performance was John Evanko whose individual time of 11:26 even eclipsed the best team time by two seconds. All-in-all a pretty nice performance for a first-timer at the Oval who was riding a borrowed bike. Taking second in the 25-29 age group was Brian Davis who recorded a 11:40, also the day's second fastest overall individual time.

In the other male age groups it was Wade Andrews taking the win in 12:31 for the under 24 men. Andrews mentioned after his ride, "I felt surprisingly good for an early season race." In the over 40 bracket it was Bill Kanarek who grabbed first place honors in the most competitive group at 11:56. Taking second was race series director and local crowd favorite, Oscar Swan, just four seconds back at 12:00.

One final individual performance that is more than worthy of mention is the one displayed by the young David Friedman. While he may not have been the fastest rider in a field made up of racers many years his senior, he showed the heart and spirit of a true champion.

After all the riders tested their legs against the clock, it was time for the day's most entertaining event in the mass start, 10-mile race. Giving the B/C class riders a half-lap head start, the A/B riders had to first reel in this group before positioning themselves for their winning strategies.

Brian Davis
Brian Davis goes big with a solo attack
With twenty laps of racing to complete, the A/B riders only needed about six to close the quarter mile gap given the B/C riders. From here the group of over 40 riders watched as Rob Gaus repeatedly went on the attack. With half the race complete, Guass held a break for over a lap. But just like all the attacks before, a chase ensued that successfully reeled in the breakaway rider.

On the thirteenth lap it looked as though Guass might get the help he needed as he formed a two man break with Ruud van Dijk. Once again the field reacted and the attacking tandem was absorbed back into the pack. The attacks of Guass ended before the race was over with a flat on lap eighteen.

The next to go with an aggressive move were the trio of Jack Neyer, Phillip Rhodes and Bill Kanarek. Their advantage held through the sixteenth lap and it wasn't until the middle of the seventeenth that the pack closed in on them. With this latest break covered, the momentum of the group slightly let up and that's when Brian Davis made a bold charge. By the start of the the next lap, and with only three to go, Davis had propelled himself into a 200 meter lead.

Jay Downs
Jay Downs sprints for the line
The trailing race group was slow to react and Davis later said, "I just went as hard as I could." He seemed to have things timed right after covering some early breaks and then sitting in for a while before making his jump. By the time the field sprint to the finish took shape, Davis already had a lock on the victory and stole the tape at 24:07.

The field sprint at the finish did come close as Jay Downs used a strong move on the short finishing incline to seal second place honors. After the race Downs said, "I thought they could catch [Davis] on the rise, you've got to punch it right at the bottom and that's when I went." Although they came up short, Downs was still happy winning the sprint and added, "It was a good way to start off the year."

The racers couldn't say enough good things about the racing and the hard work put in by Oscar Swan and all the folks that helped out with the race. He couldn't have done it on this day without the help of Dick Lucas (timer and referee), Mark Powder (starter and judge), Stephanie Swan (registration, results), and Bram Friedman, just to name a few. For more information on good time road racing in Western Pennsylvania, check out the web site of the Allegheny Cycling Association.