Share |

Sunday, December 3, 2000 -- Hopewell, PA
Raccoon Township Cyclocross #2
Story contributed by Joe Papp

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]

Cyclocross #1
You think Raccoon Township #1 was tough...
Today was a hard day for the hard men of the sport, and only 13 riders braved brutally cold temperatures to race the final event of the Allegheny Cycling Association's (ACA) 2000 competitive season. What started in March with a circuit road race in southern Nottingham Township finished today with a low-key, yet intensely contested cyclocross competition to the northwest of Pittsburgh at Raccoon Township Park. Though there was another race scheduled for next weekend, promoter Gary Dugovich decided to end his series early to avoid conflict with the four other 'cross races already on the calendar.

Unaware that they were riding the last Raccoon event of the year, Navigators road professional Paul Martin, the Speedgoat team and the rest of the field nonetheless put on a performance worthy of any grand finale. The pace was blisteringly fast from the gun, as this reporter [Joe Papp] led the prologue and half of the first lap, before being overtaken (inevitably) by Martin. As the pro roadman floated up and down the park's frozen trails, this reporter battled a raging George Yoder (Speedgoat) for second place. We alternated leading the chase several times, though a broken seat pin on lap four forced yours out of contention and back into seventh.

While Yoder struggled unsuccessfully to reign-in Martin, his Speedgoat teammate Ernesto Marenchin worked to separate himself from Brian Stern of PDQ Cleveland. Though the two were together for much of the race, Marenchin proved stronger and went on to finish in third, 23 seconds ahead of Stern.

Despite freezing temperatures for most of the past week, sections of the course gradually thawed, and more than one rider overestimated his traction in the fast, winding portion before the first run-up! Nothing worse than scraped knees and bruised egos resulted, however. Nevertheless, the two forced-dismounts that came on climbs remained frozen for the duration of the race, causing many-including this reporter-to regret having chosen spiked-shoes! Yoder, for one, complained that his cleats "wouldn't dig-in" on the first steep climb. No obstacle could slow Martin, however, who said he enjoyed the challenge of racing on the snow and ice. He clocked the fastest lap of the day, a 6:20 with six to go, and never looked back, beating all comers in a time of 54:02. Yoder finished second, Marenchin third, Stern fourth and this reporter fifth.

Asked about the course, Martin praised the venue and proclaimed, "It's definitely Super Cup-material, and hopefully Gary can attract more riders next year." The father-son duo of Paul and Jeff Salipante (Pittsburgh Cycling Club) also had kind words for Dugovitch's efforts, though only the elder Salipante (Square Wheels) admitted enjoying the unseasonably cold weather. Second-place Yoder explained that he overcame the cold by "dressing as if I was cross-country skiing."

A trip to the ski trails may be the next step for the area's competitive cyclists, as the Western Pennsylvania racing season is now over. The mud and ice of Raccoon Township Park were appropriate foils to the undisturbed country roads of Nottingham Township, in this, one of the ACA's best years.