By Benito Vila
With bright helmets, sleek eyewear and sponsor-splashed skin tight team wear, riders in last weekend’s Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup at the Southampton Youth Services recreation center on Majors Path looked like they came out of the sky.
Whipping in and out of the woods and across the fields, the cyclocross professionals rode and ran the rugged course astounding the young and old alike. No obstacle or grade was too much, their speed and agility displaying unimaginable stamina and drive.
The event, part of the East Coast-based MAC Cyclocross Series and the International North American Cyclocross Trophy (NACT) series, turned the SYS facility into an impromptu happening, sponsor tents, team trucks, cycle magazine photographers, hip music and humorous announcers creating an other worldly spectacle.
The frenzy started Saturday morning and ended towards sunset Sunday, Cannondale Cyclocross.com rider Tim Johnson and his teammates, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll setting the pace in the men’s events each day. Johnson’s win in Sunday’s finale earned him Sunday’s Super Cross Cup title and the NACT championship belt.
In winning, Johnson credited his teammates, saying, “With three of us in the mix, there’s a lot of drive between us to do well.” Johnson also praised the course and his competition in noting “a nice elevation gain” and “all the best guys are here.”
He also appreciated the venue for its facility and its modest size. “Sometimes when we’re out west in Boulder, Portland, Seattle and northern California, we have as many as 1500 racers; here we had 50. But Myles [Romanow, the event coordinator] has made this a got-to-get-to event.”
Romanow, who heads HamptonVelo, a local bike club, in turn, praised the Town of Southampton’s vision in developing the recreation center and allowing the riders to use its yard. “Our summer traffic prohibits road racing so having this facility is really key. We’re lucky to have here one of the best venues in North America, with warm up areas and changing rooms.”
One of the “innovations” Romanow introduced to the Super Cross Cup at the event’s outset in 2005 was equal prize money for women. That attracted those elite riders, the men following in the five years since.
The weekend’s women winners were all from different teams, but all from Colorado, Amy Dombrowski of Boulder finishing first and Kelli Emmett of Colorado Springs and Georgia Gould of Fort Collins, second and third.
Romanow also appreciated the involvement of Spokespeople, a local bike advocacy group, who hosted a mid-day kids’ event. “Having them involved made this an even better day for everyone. It helped get the community more involved in what we’re doing. And what we have is a really spectator-friendly form of cycling.”