Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Air Force Academy Spirit

Cycling Classic rolls around Academy

Don Feeley, in 2nd place, ascends Pine Drive. Photo by Rachel Boettcher

Don Feeley, in 2nd place, ascends Pine Drive. Photo by Rachel Boettcher

Courtesy USAFA Cycling Club

The Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference selected the Academy to host the final race before conference championships.

The Academy’s Cadet Cycling team was charged with organizing and executing the Front Range Cycling Classic, scheduled to be a two-day, three-event, challenge including a time-trial and criterium Saturday and road race Sunday.

“The road race is the “bread and butter” of cycling and is a long race where teamwork, strategy, nutrition, experience and fitness all play a role,” said Jim Weinstein, officer in charge of the Academy Cycling Club. “The Cadet Cycling team went into the weekend as the top ranked Division 2 team in the RMCCC. To maintain that ranking and earn the invitation to compete in the national championships, the team needed to perform well.”

The cadet team’s strongest event was expected to be the team time trial, however, due to weather, all Saturday events were cancelled.

“Sunday’s road race went off without a hitch,” Weinstein said. “If it wasn’t for the amazing plowing and road care work the CE folks did, the race would not have happened. At 4 a.m. Sunday, I surveyed the course. To my amazement, the road crews had been able to beat back the storm! The roads were dry, the snow piled beyond the shoulder, and the street sweepers were out. Despite more than a foot of snow at the registration tent, the race would go on.”

Sunday’s course followed the grueling outside loop of the Academy. The hardest part was the climb up Pine Drive according to riders.

The lower categories would do as few as two laps and the highest categories (Men’s A and Pro) would do five laps on the 12-mile loop.

“Overall, the Air Force Academy team did well, taking seven top 20 placings  in various categories,” Weinstein said. “However, the highlight was the incredible teamwork displayed in the Men’s A race.”  On the final lap, three Air Force riders remained in the pack. Jay ShalekBriski and Adam Kruse were working to set the road team leader, Trevor Johnson, up for a win.

ShalekBriski and Kruse rode hard, sheltering Johnson from the wind. They rode the hill up Pine Drive at nearly 20 miles per hour and set Johnson up perfectly.  “The teamwork was outstanding, the win wasn’t possible but Johnson finished in third place in Division 2 and solidified his lead as the top rider in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Conference,” the OIC said.

“The support from the 10th Air Base Wing, the Cadet Wing and the Athletic Department was unprecedented,” Weinstein said. “People bent over backwards to ensure this event happened.  The folks in the Academy Safety Office, Security Forces, 10th Medical Group and the 10th Mission Support Group all worked closely to help craft a safety plan; the civil engineers ensured potholes were fixed and roads were tended to during the storm, Global Engagement provided logistical support, and the AD provided support including use of the athletic fields. This was a huge event with more than 350 cyclists, yet there was only a single minor accident.”

Event officials cited this as one of the best races of the year on one of their favorite courses. This race used a similar course to the 1986 Professional Cycling World Championships.

“With only one race left, look for Air Force to finish on top of the RMCCC and be poised to bring home several medals at our Collegiate National Championships” Weinstein said.

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