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Red Jacket Cyclotron Recap

Recap of the 2012 Red Jacket Cyclotron
From: Chris Schmidt / cts@xmatic.com

Snow bikers from across the region congregated on 5th Street in Calumet, Michigan for the inaugural running of the Red Jacket Cyclotron on Saturday. The Calumet Snowdrome, prepared to perfection for the Friday night start of the Copper Dog 150 dogsled race, featured two long straightaways – one, an elevated snow road, the other a snow-covered stretch of ice-encased cobbles – and two 180 degree turns, each demanding expert bike handling skills and nerves of steel. The previous day’s warm temperatures combined with the 18+ inches of wet snow that had fallen earlier in the week to form a rock-solid base for the snow portion race course. As weather in the U.P. is known to do, however, the one to three inches of snow forecast for the area the previous day turned into 10″+ for Calumet and a winter storm warning for Marquette. Thus, in a twist of irony, the legions of snow bikers from Marquette who had planned to compete, were forced to retreat to safe harbor on account of the impassible roads in the Marquette highlands, thinning the number of participants somewhat, but not the high level of athletic prowess demanded of the competitors who rose to the challenge.

Three races were held over the course of the day. The first, a straight-up criterium, saw racers competing for fifteen minutes plus one lap. Pete Karinen (Culver’s Cycling / Atlantic Mine) was able to open an early gap on his fellow A-race competitors. Teammate Eric Ollis of Houghton nipped at his heels for the duration of the event, but was never able to regain contact. Brian Geshel, the sole rider from Marquette, rounded out the top three. In the men’s B-class, James Bialas (Red Jackets / Askel) battled with Bob Carpenter (Lanse) for top honors in the snow crit, with the younger Bialas holding on for the win. Third place went to Pat Szubielak of Calumet. Dominating the women’s field was Nina Kerinen of Atlantic Mine.

Following a brief break for course prep on account of intense snowfall, racers rolled down to the far end of the race course for the sprint races which saw racers go head to head on a 500m straightaway. In a game of cat and mouse, Pete Karinen lulled Ollis into complacency before throwing down the hammer, leaving Ollis in a wake of blowing snow and shattered dreams. Ollis was able to fend of a fast approaching Geshel, however, for second. Nina Karinen, who raced with the men’s B group, led not only the women’s field, but also outpaced all of the men’s B riders for the sprint win.

Racing concluded with a 2-person exhibition relay, each team completing a total of 4 laps. With the intensifying snow, driving wind and falling temperatures, racers were transformed into anonymous figures waging battle against the elements as much as each other.

In the final standings, it was Pete Karinen who claimed the overall title in the men’s A race. Eric Ollis and Brian Geshel rounded out the top three. Nina Karinen was crowned female champion of the 2012 Cyclotron. In the men’s B race, it James Bialas, Bob Carpenter and Pat Szubielak took top honors.

As snow biking grows in popularity, the Red Jacket Cyclotron is certain to grow as well. The event offers a unique opportunity to compete in a series of high-paced criterium events over the course of a few hours in the unique and welcoming surroundings of downtown Calumet. Race organizers are looking ahead to 2013. And, though they welcome the snow, they hope that it will hold back a bit on Cyclotron day next year.

Snow bike racing continues in the Keweenaw March 11 with the Great Bear Chase Snow Bike Race and Midwest Snow Bike Championships.

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