The 31st Classic, a bicycle race extraordinaire
A challenging course, blue skies, cool temperatures, an enthusiastic crowd, and 800 participants - all the ingredients needed for a fabulous day of bicycle racing. And a fantastic race it was. The Tour de France had nothing on the 31st running of the Jamestown Classic Annual Bike Race hosted by the Jamestown Rotary Club. The event delivered the excitement, the world-class athletes, and the finest display of high-tech cycles, gear, and attire as can be found anywhere on the planet.
Beginning at 8:30 a.m., novice children began the competition with a 3-mile race followed by a unicycle event. At 9:30 a.m., the BankNewport 'Round the Island Bike Race was under way with classes for novice women and men in age categories from 13 to 19 all the way to 70 and older. There was an inspiring challenge cyclist event and a tandem category. Registrants also competed as teams in the Friends & Family or Rotary Team categories. At 11:30 a.m. in sequenced starts, some of the best racers from the Northeast and beyond competed in the United States Cycling Federationsanctioned series with categories: Pro, Cat 1,2,3 Men, 3 Masters divisions, Cat 4 Men, 3 Cat 5 divisions, Pro, Cat 1,2,3 Women, Cat 4 Women and two Junior categories that qualify for the Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Racer Series or LAJORS.
Chairman of the racing event for 10 years, Steve Mecca's voice boomed over the P.A. system, starting races, making announcements, clearing the track at the start/finish line, and welcoming participants and fans to the yearly event that many of the racers claim to be one of the best organized in the country.
In the kids 3-mile event, Jamestowners Ian Andres, 7, and his brother Peter, 5, participated in their first race. They didn't win, but they were greeted at the finish line by their mom, Magdalena, who helped with their training by riding to school with them in the morning.
Also in the kids event, Jamestown sisters Eliza and Emily Kallfelz, age 7 and 9, won first and third places in their respective classes.
Jamestown architect Jim Estes, 61, crossed the line with the leading pack in the 19-mile 'round the island amateur event, coming in second in the men's age 55-69 class, but beat the time of the second place winner of the age 20- 34 class by a full three seconds. This was Estes second year in the annual race. He's been cycling for four years and rides year 'round, weather permitting. He tries to ride at least three or four days a week.
Jamestowners Arthur Spivack, 50, his wife, Emily Shapiro, and son, Isaac, 8 participated in the
amateur event. Spivack and son rode tandem, and came in with a respectable time of 1:10. "We did pretty good, but we can't keep up with two adults on the tandems," Spivack said. "My wife Emily is a real trooper. She's only been biking a year and still participated in the race with all those experienced riders. She wore a red helmet that she says is symbolic of the red shirt worn by the last place rider in the Tour de France a few years back. They don't do that any more, though. The red shirt was called the "red lantern" after the lantern seen on a caboose, the last car in a railroad train. She knew she'd come in last and decided to dress for the part," he said.
In the women's category, Jamestowner Lisa Lawless, 43, who has been cycling seriously for only two years crashed and didn't complete the race. "The fellow riding behind me went down hard," she said. "Three of us were involved in the crash. I could have gotten up and finished the race because my bike wasn't damaged, and that's what you're supposed to do. But I stayed with him until help came because I felt that was the right thing to do. Other than that, I was very impressed with the way the race organizers recognized the young pro riders and interviewed them on the podium. Their encouragement did a lot for racing in Jamestown. Also, I have to congratulate Jamestown racer Abigail Anthony for winning the women's pro cat 4 race. She's a great athlete and the town can be proud of her," Lawless said.
Two Jamestown riders who must get honorable mention in the men's amateur 55 to 69 category are Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and former Town Administrator Bob Sutton. Both completed the 19-mile course with respectable times.