Summit Center Classic

Well so much for that. I just flew back into Dania from Phoenix. Quite the weekend up in Flagstaff as I was helping TC, Fitty and Chopper put on the wildly successful Summit Center Classic. The Classic is a three-day, four stage bicycle road race that Flagstaff Biking Organization puts on every Memorial Day weekend in Northern Arizona. The event has been tweaked every year for the past four years, with some stages making the cut and other stages only lasting one year. However, after this years stellar event TC thinks that the future schedule is locked in. . . and since TC is the race director I imagine that the lock will remain just that; locked.

Best to check out the website to the right if you want a more comprehensive rundown of the event but I will certainly enjoy giving you the highlights here. Saturday morning starts with a prologue time trial up Mars Hill which ends at the Lowell Observatory. (A time trial is where riders are sent off individually every few minutes.) I've never ridden this short stretch of road but most riders would describe it as "intensely painful." The strongest climbers will complete the hill in about two minutes but most people are well off that pace. For many riders this is the first time they have really pushed themselves in the seven-thousand foot altitude this year and I heard more than a few athletes say that the steep hill and thin air affected them well into the next stages of the race.

While I didn't have anything to do with the prologue up Mars Hill I was privileged enough to help set up the second stage that occurred on Saturday; the downtown criterion. (Roughly a "crit" is a loop that is less than one mile each lap. Riders go off in their respective categories (women, men, youth broken down into skill levels) and ride the circuit for a set number of minutes anywhere from about fifteen minutes up to forty minutes for the men's Category One and Two. If the leaders lap you then you get dropped and get your sorry butt off the course.) So, this downtown crit was just over half a mile and TC really pulled a rabbit out on this one. M0st of downtown Flag had to be shut down and the permit process took six months to complete. This portion of the event was arguably the most successful and highly noticed race that Flag Biking Org has ever put on. There were people all over the place, most businesses were booming downtown and people were wandering over from an art fair that was down in Wheeler Park. I actually don't have words to describe how great it was. . . it's the sort of thing that Flagstaff needs more often and the city will be crazy to deny the permit for next year.

Sunday brought another brilliant stage on the NAU campus. The course was a loop about two and a half miles long which means it is titled a circuit race instead of a crit. Once again riders compete within their specific categories. There were about eight different categories. Unfortunately, the roads weren't closed to traffic so that made volunteers very important for traffic control and there were also five NAUPD or FPD at different corners to keep people moving. Funny, the speed limit on most of the NAU campus is fifteen miles an hour but some of these riders were traveling AT LEAST twice that fast on the flat and downhill portions of the course. My role was to help organize volunteers and generally act as a runner over the whole course in case someone was injured or needed help in some way. This stage didn't draw nearly as many people as the downtown crit but it's understandable because of the location and longer course length.

The last stage is actually the easiest in terms of planning and volunteer coordination. A road race with three different lengths depending on what category you race. The longest route is eighty-four miles. The race started at Upper Lake Mary and turned around way out at Clint's Well to head right back pat Lake Mary. There is a little up and down to the race but TC truly showed his most devious side when he conceived (or just approved, I don't know) the ending to the race. The riders must make a right turn off the main highway and finish the course with a two mile climb (similar to Mars Hill) up to Marshall Lake. An ending like this makes a big difference for the racers and truly the race was decided in that last climb.

Unfortunately, I am usually not working at the finish line and I don't really keep track of who is winning unless I happen to know who they are (highly unlikely) but if you want to see the results you can find them on the race website. Also the team that FBO is most highly linked to is Summit Velo which has the majority of it's members down in Tucson with the remainder up in Flag.

Well this was probably pretty disjointed. . . I gotta admit that I'm a little tired after the drive from FLG to PHX and the flight from PHX to FLL. It seems my life has been reduced to a bunch of acronyms. I guess it could be worse, my life could be reduced to a bunch of limericks and haikus.

Flickr is down at the moment but I'll get pictures posted soon. . . and maybe a video posted on YouTube of a guy who crashed on a corner during the downtown crit.

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