Ozolins Takes Mucky Urban �Cross
Buffalo, New York. Over 40 cyclists braved cold 42 degree drizzle and gritty mud at the Delaware Park Cyclocross race. Promoted by the University at Buffalo cycling club and Handlebar�s Cycle Company, the race served as the fourth stop in the eight-race Western New York cyclocross series.
�We�re racing right in the city, in a jewel of Olmsted�s parks,� said race promoter Jim Costello. Delaware Park was designed in the 19th century by urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for creating Manhattan�s Central Park. The park covers 350 acres in the Great Lakes city of 300,000 people, providing one of the few cyclocross courses in the country in a true urban location.
The course over cinder paths, grassy fields, and a few sections of rooty singletrack started with fast, sub 5-minute laps, but the pace steadily slowed as several sections of the course became run-ups after enough knobby tires turned the soggy ground into a thick soup.
Twenty eight year old Peter Ozalins led the men�s open race from start to finish. Ozalins, a freelance photographer from Ithaca NY, never saw his lead in jeopardy. After two laps Ozalins was in front of perennial challenger John Roden by a handful of seconds, until Roden punctured on the far side of the course, taking him out of contention. A second flat tire would see Roden eventually DNF. A puncture also put Ozalins in a spot of bother at five laps to go, which lost him a full minute. With no spare bike or mechanic for help, Ozalins thunked into the pit and grabbed a wheel from a rider who had dropped out. Nonplussed, he plugged on to hold a 30 second gap over second place Jeremy Gardner until the finish. Buffalo local Stan Skotnicki ground his way to third place.
In the women�s race, Maria Klemperer-Johnson took a cue from Ozolins and led from the gun, while in the Masters 40+ endurance sports fanatic Andy Melnychenko cruised to a win as part of his training for cross ski marathons.
The next stop in the series comes Saturday, October 29, at Sprague Brook Park, 20 minutes south of Buffalo.