Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12, 2023 brought the 32nd Annual Verge Northampton Cyclocross race to Look Park. The event, presented by Cycle-Smart, is directed by NCC co-founder Adam Myerson, and many JAM Fund and NCC members pitched in to provide support.
Racers and spectators traveled from across the country to participate in this joyful and inclusive cycling event. For the spectators, food trucks served up delicious hot food and cold beer, which they could enjoy from picnic tables in the sun with a prime view of the barriers. For the racers, the course offers a mix of power sections and technical features, and it’s always lined by the supportive crowds. This year’s edition even lured some former JAM Fund/NCC athletes out of retirement!
(I only got a few photos…but there are some great professional photo albums linked in the crossresults pages!)
Category 4/5 Men
Tito Garza started the weekend off right early on Saturday morning! In a men’s category 4/5 race of over 100 athletes, he raced to the first win of his career. Chris Evans fought hard for 9th place and was followed by Enrique Negron (22nd), Eduardo Nunez (52nd), Jonathan O’Keeffe (71st), Doug Breismeister (79th), Roman Voyevidka (Trailblasters, 87th), Bob Lelievre (94th), and Jason Johnson (108th). Gunther Breismeister (JAM Fund/NCC) was unable to finish after crashing at the barriers. On the plus side, this enabled his father Doug to claim the victory in the father-son match-up. And Jeff Fowler snagged an amazing shot of Gunther mid-flight. Heal up quick, Gunther!
U15 & Category 4/5 Women
In the Boys U15 field, Anders Krause placed 18th and Sid Wanner placed 24th. These two are well under 15 years old, but still had a strong showing against some older kids! This was true for Alta Breismeister (5th), Ruby Gillotti-White (8th), and Sasha Wanner (9th) in their race, too. This group of Trailblasters are all very U15. Well done!
The category 4/5 women were on course at the same time as the U15 riders. Sophie Parrott (JAM Fund/NCC) placed 7th, and Madison Johnson (Trailblasters) placed 23rd. Madison, whose racing age is 13, competed in the Category 4/5 field so she could experience a longer race, and each of her three laps was faster than the last!
The NCC blue really stood out in the master’s men’s fields. In the 55+ race, Daryl Beck (18th) was the first of a trio that finished close together, with Joe Lellman in 20th and Colman O’Connor in 21st. David Goodwin placed 33rd. (Unfortunately, this only placed him 5th/7 in the “55+ and named David” competition). Andy Scott was 35th. Frank Sleegers was 55th, in his first cyclocross appearance of the season. Several of these guys are well over 55, so like the Trailblasters racing U15, their finishes are extra impressive! In the 40+ wave, Chris Evans raced a second time, earning 59th place, while Trailblasters coach Ross Krause finished 29th, racing with a big group of his Joe’s Garage teammates. On the women’s side, Wendy King placed 2nd in the 55+ category!
Just a few NCC riders raced in the category 3 fields. On the men’s side, Ben Jankowski placed 13th. Club member Myles Scott placed 9th, racing for Competitive Edge. And on the women’s side, Tanya Boulanova (JAM Fund/NCC) placed 25th, while teammate Talia Loiter wasn’t feeling well and DNFed.
Pro/1/2 & U23
The women’s elite race was sponsored by Joe’s Garage. Former JAM Fund athlete Ellen Noble hopped in for her first cyclocross race since her retirement from a professional cyclocross career several years ago. It was so great to see her happy to compete, and she was a big fan favorite! Ellen placed 12th, one spot behind JAM Fund/NCC/UVM rider Olivia Sandoval. The race winner was Greta Kilburn (Green Mountain Cyclocross). It was my first time racing in a Pro/1/2 field; I placed 9th.
The day started with Tito’s win in the Men’s Category 4/5 race, and Lane Maher (JAM Fund/NCC) slapped the other piece of bread on the win sandwich by racing to first place against the Pro/1/2 & U23 field. After eight close laps, Lane put Ethan Delgrosso (Competitive Edge) away in lap 9 to lock in the victory. These two were followed by Pat Frank (11th), Mark Hewitt (24th), and Jeremy Bloyd-Peshkin (33rd), all riding for the JAM Fund/NCC. Former JAM-er Trent Blackburn jumped into his first ‘cross race since 2019, rolling in 35th.
On Sunday, many of yesterday’s crew returned for more racing. They were also joined by some fresh-legged teammates.
Men’s Category 4/5
Tito Garza had another strong race today, but he was had to settle for 2nd place. Still, a two-podium, two-cookie weekend is an awesome result! Tito was followed by teammates Enrique Negron (13th), Chris Evans (26th), Jonathan O’Keeffe (60th), Roman Voyevidka (Trailblasters, 63rd), Magnus Harrison (Trailblasters, 64th), and Jason Johnson (84th).
U15 & Women’s 4/5
Rowan Harrison finished 6th in the U15 Boys field, holding off Jack O’Donnell (Capital Bicycle Racing Club) in an exciting sprint finish. Rowan was followed by three more Trailblasters; Anders Krause came in 15th, Mykola Voyevidka was 25th, and Miles Abrams was 26th. For the girls, Alta Breismeister finished 5th again, and Lilah Engebretson was 9th. In the category 4/5 women’s race, Sophie Parrot placed 8th, just one spot shy of her 7th place from yesterday. Madison Johnson (Trailblasters) was 29th, followed by Amy Stephens (Trailblasters) in 41st.
Four 55+ racers from Saturday’s NCC squad returned for Day 2. Colman O’Connor had a strong 12th place finish. He was followed by Daryl Beck (16th), David Goodwin (27th), and Andy Scott (29th). Ross Krause placed 23rd in the 40+ field.
Former JAM Fund/NCC rider Jessica Beck also returned from a long cycling hiatus to race at Northampton! Jessica rode her bike to a 24th place finish in the women’s category 3 field. On the men’s side, Ben Jankowski placed 35th. His laps times suggest a crash or mechanical on lap 1, but he had a strong race from there!
Pro/1/2 & U23
Ellen Noble and Olivia Sandoval returned to the action for the JAM Fund on Day 2. Ellen placed 12th, with JAM newcomer Olivia 14th. I finished 10th, powered by French fry handups from the Trailblasters on the run-up. The spectator energy through that whole woods section was amazing. Today’s race winner was Jenna Lingwood (Team S&M). Jenna held off 13-year-old phenom Lilliana O’Donnell (Finkraft), who was 2nd overall and 1st in the U23 category.
I daresay the men’s Pro/1/2 & U23 was the most exciting race of the entire weekend. An epic battle for the podium played out amongst the foursome of Lane Maher (JAM Fund/NCC), Nathan Cusack (UVM), Alexander Scopinich-Burgel (New England Devo), and Robin Carpenter (L39ion). A crash on the barriers with two to go broke up the group and gave Lane the gap he needed to get to the line in first. Announcer Erin Faccone was urging Lane on in hopes that he might lap former JAM Fund rider Stephen Hyde, another former pro racing for the first time since retirement. Despite blowing up after a strong start, Stephen was able to hold Lane off. Northampton-ite and Trailblasters coach Gus Lellman, competing for Joe’s Garage, had a strong race, and he held off a competitor in an exciting sprint for 7th. Former JAM Fund rider Scott Smith was 26th, Mark Hewitt (JAM Fund/NCC) was 28th, Stephen was 29th, and Kale Wenczel (former JAM Fund/NCC) was 30th.
A big thanks to all of the community members who supported this event by building the course; working registration; taking cool photos; raking the sandpit; providing mechanical support; cheering for the racers; tearing down the course; showing up to race; hosting racers from out of town; or operating the food trucks.
Check out the great photos linked in the results, especially those from NCC member Jeff Fowler! There are also video recaps of the elite races on Cycle-Smart’s YouTube channel.