After shattering records at last year’s Twilight Criterium, I knew I would have a target on my back.
Sporting the Dick Ide shirt given to me by Richard Ide last year when riding in his pace car, I felt good at 8.13.16, 12:17 p.m. with the finish line a few tantalizing yards ahead.
Suddenly rookie Katy Wisnowski swooped past me in a blur. Dethroned!
A worthy champion, Katy was at the Criterium to participate in the inaugural Golisano Gran Fondo, a new VIP experience charity ride to benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital.
At event headquarters in the atrium of the Blue Cross Arena, John Halleran (Golisano Gran Fondo Co-Founder along with Scott Page) explained that the Gran Fonda was technically a Pro-Am cycling event. Participants enjoyed rides designed for different levels of ability, including a 10 and 50 mile road tour.
John was thrilled at the turnout. And the passing rain on the tours would just cool down bikers if not keep them hydrated.
The Blue Cross atrium also turned out to a be a mini-Brighton High School reunion.
There was event volunteer David LeVant ’84 (brother of Anne LeVant ’81), supporting his wife Carla (née Stolnitz) ’81, the senior social worker in the Pediatric Department of Strong Hospital. Among his various duties, David’s specialty was pinning numbers on bicyclist’s back. John gave him all thumbs of up for pinning prowess.
In a labor of love and hope, Carla has devoted the last 30 years to working with pediatric patients and families. As a “cycling addict,” Carla said today’s event is “the meeting of two passions.”
I also saw Rachel Gordon — yet another BHS grad — for the first time in about 25 years since I was a supposed fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. An avid cyclist, Rachel looks like she’s kept up her JCC workout program. Rachel had gladly helped publicize the event.
Rachel convinced me to join the expedition and, like her, had a great time. Upon our return to the atrium, Rachel described her experience:
Despite an early flat tire on East River Road, heavy rains, thunder and a very strong headwind, I wouldn’t have missed this event and the chance to support the Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Like last year, the featured Twilight Criterium race announcer was Frankie Andreu who rode as team captain of the U.S. Postal Service cycling team in 1998, 1999 and 2000. As he did last year, Frankie took some time to discuss the nuances of the art of cycling announcing.
Unlike other team sports, there are no big plays like a touchdown or home run. Instead, cycling is a continuous series of subtle manuevers and tactics. Like a multi-multi dimension game of moving chess in which each player positions himself against the others to gain minute advantages — often indiscernible within the whirl of hundreds of closely packed wheels. Frankie can convey only a portion of what his trained eye sees with each turn: shifting gears, body tilts, the softest of breakings.
Aiming at the casual fan, Frankie says his main job is to know as much as he can about every race and venue in which the rider’s have been on the cycling circuit: across the United States and Canada, Australia and Europe. Frankie then weaves a shifting portrait by juxtaposing Rochester with the venues around the world and at different seasons. He might compare our distinctive urban short course crossing two river bridges (Court and Broad) with the hills of France.
And tonight’s evening with fading sunshine on one side of the river and dark clouds on the other, with rainfall both intermittent and in sudden outbursts, and lighting behind Xerox Tower and the Times Union Building made for a particularly dramatic portrait as riders tested themselves and the elements. As Frankie said, a perfect night for photographers (and announcers).