Worcester, Mass.
August 24, 1997

Mengoni victorious at junior nationals

By Lynne Tolman

   The GS Mengoni squad led by 17-year-old Craig Guertin of Leicester cleaned up at the EDS Junior National Track Cycling Championships this month in Trexlertown, Pa.
   Guertin, stepson of Mengoni juniors coach Toby Stanton, won the 3-kilometer individual pursuit and placed second in the kilometer time trial to clinch the omnium title Aug. 9 at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome.  And a composite team riding under the Mengoni name rebounded from a slow start in the team pursuit final to snare a 4.2-second victory over the "hometown" team, Future Champions Cycling Club of Allentown.
   The winning pursuit team consisted of Guertin, Andrew Wilkes of Hingham, Anthony Bedient of York, Neb.; John Rutherford of Half Moon Bay, Calif.; and J. Travis Garland and Michael Creed, both of Colorado Springs, Colo.
   Guertin, Rutherford and Garland were resident athletes this year at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, members of what used to be called the U.S. junior national team.
   Guertin, Wilkes, Garland and Creed fell as much as nine bike lengths behind FCCC in the early laps of the 4-kilometer team pursuit final.  "But with 2.5k to go, we turned it on, and we just kept gaining on them," Guertin said.  "It was awesome."
   "It was exciting," Stanton said, because FCCC was "in the race right up to the end, and they got to walk away with their heads up. They made it a race."
   Wilkes, 17, a Stanton recruit in his first year racing, was track racing for the first time and took second place in the individual pursuit.  Earlier in the month, he won bronze medals in the criterium and the time trial at the Fresca Junior National Road Championships in New Haven, Conn. His performances in the nationals earned him a spot as a resident athlete in Colorado Springs next year.
   Guertin will start his senior year at Leicester High School but expects to go back to Colorado Springs by January.  "This year was kind of a letdown," he said, with intense training on the road and track but not as many races as he would have liked.  "But I'm feeling a little more confident going back because I know things are going to be different."
   Among his goals: qualifying to compete in the Junior World Track Cycling Championships next year in the Netherlands.
   Meanwhile, Guertin is unsure whether he will enter the Killington Stage Race in Vermont on Labor Day weekend.  He does plan to compete in cyclocross after the road season.
   TIP OF THE HELMET -- To David Power, 25, of Wilmington, Del., who set a course record last weekend on the 750-mile Boston-Montreal-Boston randonee.  Power went the distance in 50 hours, 1 minute, eclipsing the record of 51:46 set in 1993 by Ed Kross of Framingham.
   There were 102 starters and 73 finishers this year, including four women finishers.  The fastest woman was Jodi Groesbeck, 36, of Sharon, N.H., who clocked in at 65:26.
   Leaving home on vacation two weeks ago, I felt the same delicious sense of freedom and possibility that I remember from childhood bike rides into the center of town.
   Back then, a one-mile ride stretched my world immeasurably.  Maybe I'd go to the library, or to the dime store for candy.  It felt wonderful to be on my own and able to go where I pleased.
   Heading out of Worcester this time with my panniers loaded, I was happy to leave the car parked for a week.  I'd reach Stowe, Vt., under my own power, and I knew it would be making the journey, not arriving at the destination, that would create the best memories.  Such is the power of bicycle touring to turn transportation into travel.
   It was a day's ride to Amherst, where I met up with about 45 other riders and our tour leader, Ted Cavotta of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.  Besides the ever-popular attraction of Vermont towns and countryside, part of the appeal of this tour was our ability to keep heading north all week rather than looping back at "halftime."  We would return by train.
   Amtrak alienated a lot of cyclists this year by reneging on its promise to install bike racks on baggage cars on dozens of routes; the railroad decided to use the space for smokers instead.
   The Vermonter is one of the few Amtrak lines that does have "roll-on" bicycle service, meaning that bikes to do not have to be disassembled or boxed.  The passenger fare from Waterbury, Vt., to Amherst is $25, and there is a $5 charge per bike.  We handed our bikes up from the platform to train employees who stowed them in a regular bike parking rack on the designated car, and they had them off the train, leaning against the station, by the time we disembarked.
   Another adventure in transportation was biking the paved five-mile Stowe Recreation Path.  This is a scenic riverside jaunt for walkers, in-line skaters, tykes with training wheels and anyone in the mood to mosey along at less than 10 mph.  But it's no place for even moderately speedy bicyclists; we rode our brakes the whole time, repeating "on your left" and keeping our fingers crossed that people would understand that does not mean for them to move to their left.  The bridges are cute but poorly designed for two-way traffic.
   I wondered if the tour leader had routed us onto the path because the parallel Route 108 was dangerous, or if perhaps the road was made more dangerous by the existence of the path.  If the road shoulder is not maintained and if drivers are hostile to cyclists on the road because people believe all cyclists belong on the path, then everyone loses out.  The meanderers on the path are disturbed by the speedy riders, and faster road cyclists lose access to the appropriate transit avenue.  We later biked that stretch of Route 108 and it was fine, so Stowe seems to be keeping a balance.

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