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Cycling Wed Sep 10 2008

Molten Down

The tattered remnants of Hurricane Gustav couldn't prevent last weekend's Palos Meltdown from going off, and going off well in Willow Springs. By Sunday, the trails were mostly dry, fast and in excellent repair. The hat must come off to those CAMBR volunteers who work so hard to make sure that such good racing goes off without a hitch. Yeah, they can't do much about the weather, but Sunday's sunny skies and mild temperatures just served to highlight their efforts.

Oh, and the racing? Absolutely spectacular. The fields, mostly full, were made up mostly of locals who regularly ride in the Palos trail system. In the beginner class, a contingent of riders from the Half Acre Cycling Team (sponsored in part by Gapers Block) took numerous podium spots in the various categories, mostly all on cyclocross bikes. GB's own Naz Hamid came in first in the Men's 30-39 category; Max Riordan of the Chicago Cuttin' Crew rocked things overall with a time of 23:19.85 in the six-mile race on his so-sweet Eddy Merckx 'cross bike. Lisa Menninger, came in first overall in the beginner women's category with a time of 28:08.85.

For both the sport and expert categories, the race was rerouted onto the singletrack and technical sections that make up most of the Palos trails. All sport riders did two laps of about eight miles apiece, the expert men four, the expert women three. Overall winners in sport included Cynthia Dehmer with a time of 1:43:15 and Jason Knauff with a time of 1:11:41. Winners in the various men's categories included 19 & Under Christopher Chamales, 20-29 winner Tyler Clark, and XXX-Racing rider Greg Heck in the 30-39. In the women's categories, Jenny Avalos tore it up in the 20-29 group, and Kathryn Connolly in the 40-49 with a time of 1:44:59. To allow me to toot my own horn just a bit, I was able, in my first mountain bike race ever and filling in for an injured teammate, to take 6th place in the 20-29 category. Huzzah!

After the broomwagon came through the course to sweep-up any errant or broken sport riders, the expert riders got to the staging area, toed the line, and proceeded to wait...for ten minutes. If it's one thing that the Meltdown organizers do exceptionally well, is make sure things go according to schedule. After a brief announcement by the organizers warning of rocks, sketchy bends and the importance of common trail courtesy, the riders took off, with Ben Popper of Killjoy in with the ever-important hole-shot and teammates of his in close pursuit. However, off the front was Lindenhurst resident Thomas Bender of the Adventure 212/Specialized team and off the front he was to stay, finishing ahead of the next closest rider by minutes with a time of 2:07:16. Jessica Hill took the big trophy home in the expert women overall with a time of 2:05:38.

And as far as I am able to tell, no racer ended up in the nuclear waste dump.

Oh, if your wardrobe is a bit skimpy in the bike-related apparel department, consider buying one of these sexy and limited-edition Chicago Cyclocross Cup t-shirts.

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