- Ted Somerville
- The sun sets over Mass Ave for the final laps of the main event
An hour or two before Saturday’s main event the sun settled behind the brick buildings along Mass Ave, the temperature dropped about ten degrees, and all was right in the world. I had a pint of New Belgium skinny dip in one hand, and a bag of freshly baked dog treats to take home to my pup in the other. Fears of thunderstorms and oppressive heat were all laid to rest, and it was a perfect August night to enjoy what turned out to be an amazing race.
Damn I love Indianapolis in the summer.
The highlight of the day for me was Sinead Miller’s performance(s). With several laps to go she was in a solo breakaway with no one anywhere in sight; that young lady DESTROYED the field of the Women’s Category 1 race.
On the final lap she took a quick glance over her shoulder to see if anyone was behind her, saw nothing but open road, and then graciously raised her arms into victory formation. She turned the corner in front of Old Point Tavern, and it was another several awkward seconds before anyone behind her even turned on to Mass Ave. for the straightaway toward second place.
Even after such a dominating performance, she was still gracious and overly humble. Our interview for the MAC preview article was done over the phone because she lives in Pittsburgh, so I went up to introduce myself and congratulate her. I commented on the immense margin of her victory—which looked more like that of a 10-day stage race than a crit. “Bre [Kovac] helped me out a lot,” she said, nonchalantly—all in a day’s work. Bre is her teammate from Marian, who was in second for most of the race, with the rest of the main group.
I’m new to competitive cycling so I don’t know what Bre could have possibly been doing to help her from 49 miles back, but the gesture was sincere.
Miller apparently didn’t get her fill of butt-kicking in the women’s race, so she also geared up for the Men’s Cat 1, and did very well—especially for having finished an entire race just an hour earlier. It added an extra buzz of excitement in the crowd as the riders lined up at the starting line for the main event to see Sinead in the mix. The crowd rallied behind her as her name was announced, and she definitely won top honors for the day’s unofficial People’s Choice Award. It’s scary to think about what would have happened to those guys if Sinead had conserved all of her energy for the main event, but she still managed to finish the men’s race 20th out of a field of about 50.
The main event
I’m not going to pretend that I’m some kind of an expert or that I have even seen NUVO’s wunderkind Eric Young race before, but based on several conversations with other competitors and local experts I picked him to win (as did about everyone else). He has been a monster this season—with FOUR first place finishes now in the last few months. Five if you include the Little 500.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Young fly past the Chatterbox with his arms raised, signifying the end of a great day. The way that cyclists celebrate a first-place finish is cooler than even the most innovative touchdown celebration. It’s so nonchalantly badass; sportsmanlike, but with just enough swagger to really drive home the exhausted devastation to the people behind you.
Young was several bike lengths back to start the final lap, but down the final straightaway he pushed through the entire pack to win handily. Chris Uberti, another great sprinter from Team Panther was hot on his trail, followed by his teammate Kirk Albers, who at age 41 is old enough to be his father.
I checked my journalistic objectivity at the entrance and was admittedly biased toward a few riders in the field, namely Adam Leibovitz, Joe Kukolla and Ryan Knapp—the subjects of the MAC preview article. So I was thrilled to see Knapp and Leibovitz finish in the top ten. Leibovitz actually led for a couple of laps, and was in the breakaway for what seemed like the breadth of the race.
The MAC was an incredibly fun introduction into the world of competitive cycling. I loved it for a lot of the same reasons that I love baseball; it’s a social sport to watch, where you can drink, eat and talk while enjoying the outdoors 90% of the time, but then there are intermittent breaks of extreme excitement—when someone makes a risky move around the pack, or a new leader emerges around a corner.