Christmas lights decorated the 200 year old barn that served as race headquarters for the Stony Brook Cyclocross Grand Prix in the tiny village of Middleville, New Jersey and three inches of fluffy powder covered the ground and towering spruce trees at Stony Brook Farm. Thirty nine hardy riders gathered for the last race of the New Jersey local cyclocross season, a race now known as Stony Brook Free Cyclocross, on Sunday, December 4, 2005.
Late Friday night, as the club holiday party was winding down, and with race promoter Bob Cary away on NJBA business, Skylands Cycling leaders decreed that the Stony Brook event would be a race without entry fees. �We had such a successful season at Augusta,� said club president Kevin Kielty, �we thought it would be nice to give something back to the riders.� With little time to publicize the free race, most riders were shocked to find their entry fee refused. Some chose to donate all or part of their savings to a prize-money pool, and over $200 quickly accumulated.
Snow continued to fall, as racers lined up for the long straight mid-lap start down the snow covered dirt road through Stony Brook�s meadows. The cold fresh snow packed well and made for smooth, clean racing. The bike wash behind the barn went unused, as riders simply brushed the powdery snow from their bikes at race end. The course was shortened to eliminate a pair of steep, off camber downhills, and race times reduced, in deference to the weather conditions.
The Men�s B race started with a three way battle between Skylands� Paul Walsh, Bulldog Keith Licata, and Stony Brook Farmer owner Pat Peterson, riding for America�s Cycling Team. Walsh showed off his bike handling skills on the downhills and technical sections to open up the eventual winning margins of 30 seconds over Licata and a minute over Peterson, recuperating from a hip fracture suffered in the Bear Mountain Fall Classic in September.
In the masters race, a well-rested Karl Farber, who drove in the night before from Binghamton, NY, defeated NJ state champ Larry Towner. Keith Gregory, on the other hand, left his home near Buffalo, NY at 2:30 a.m. and still managed to win the 55+ handily. Laura Tyson of Skylands defeated Nina Santiago of ACT in the women�s race, and Stephen Katz of Westwood, in his first �cross experience, took the C.
In the U19 race, Skylands� 15 year old Erik Kristiansen pulled an upset victory over teammate Andrew LoGiudice. Erik, who finished ahead of two-time state cross champ and team mate Trevor Dericks in the final Augusta race last week, has raced five times in his inaugural season, and each week placed higher than the week before. Erik will test his skills against the nations best next week in Providence, along with three of the teams other U19 riders. Cam Mancuso, also headed to Providence, finished third.
The Men�s A race saw a three rider battle NYC Velo�s Andrew Crooks, Troy Kimball of Westwood, and Skylands Kurt Dericks. Gradually, in the third lap, Crooks pulled away from Kimball and Kimball pulled away from Dericks. Chris Facas of Westwood Velo was fourth.