Saco Bay Criterium

Early this spring my husband and I took the class/exam to receive our USA Cycling Class C Officials license. Normally you’d work on shadowing some officials to see how the duties are done and then start working some races as assistant officials. However, my husband and I never got around to doing that.

Recently I was asked by the Southern Maine Cycling Club to work as an official on a volunteer basis at the Saco Bay Criterium to keep the expenses down. Of course they wouldn’t  just ask this unless we had offered to do that, which we did earlier in the year. I was happy to oblige!

Unfortunately my husband came down with a bug late in the week and was not able to go but I still attended.

It was fun and definitely a learning experience. I was very nervous at first with the scoring but finally got the hang of it. Luckily the first few races had pretty small fields so scoring was easy.

It was a pretty cool day with some gusty wind. Unfortunately the officials’ table was in the shade all day. A couple cups of coffee helped to warm me up a bit but there were time it was pretty chilly and my hands didn’t want to write much but I managed. Luckily the wind died down toward the end of the day.

Of course being at the race I wasn’t able to take photos but I did snap this at the start of the Pro/1/2 start:


One of the best moments of the race was during the Men’s 4/5 when Chris Esposito was in a break with another guy (sorry, I don’t have the name) after the first two laps.  On the final lap we saw Chris come around the last corner completely alone. I thought, “wow, he seriously dropped that other rider.” But it seems that the guy clipped a pedal on the last conner, somehow causing his chain to come off. He was about 200+ meters away when Chris crossed the line. The guy stopped to try to get the chain back on when the announcer yelled to him to make a run for it. (They were so far in front of the rest of the field that he’d still finish 2nd.) So he did as the crowd cheered him on while clip-clopping up the hill in his cycling shoes. He indeed finished second, well ahead of the rest of the field.

I should also tell you that Chris Esposito is a junior racer so by USA Cycling regulations he must race with junior gears. They are much lower than normal gearing. I can only imagine what Chris will do when he is able to race with standard gear ratios. (Chris also won the junior 15-18 race.)

The other rather memorable moment was when the winner of the Cat 3 race lapped the main field with 2 laps to go after riding at least 1/2 the race on the front in a solo break. That’s just something you don’t see very often. As you can imagine he won the race.

Local pro cyclist Dan Vaillancourt also cleaned up on the premes though he lost the race, also to a solo breakaway. There were a lot of those today! Incidentally, the man who won the Pro1/2 race is a young man from the Portsmouth area with aspirations to win that criterium too.

One disappointing part of the race was the women’s field. There were 11 women on the line – 6 for the Cat 1/2/3 field and 5 for the Cat 4. It often looked like a time trial out there instead of a criterium. The men’s 55+ was equally as disappointing with only a handful of guys on the line. I suppose the timing of the race was a little tough, conflicting with a few other races/events happening in the area, including a cyclocross race. Tomorrow’s Portsmouth Criterium should include much larger fields.

It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed working with Paula, Mark and Jim very much. I’m sure I’ll be helping out with this one again next year!


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