I was standing the first few laps of the World’s Road Race talking to my friend, Wayne Stetina, in the Shimano tent. The tent was strategically placed about 300 meters before the finish, close to the top of Governor’s Hill and just within eyesight of the big screen TV.
I hadn’t seen Wayne in a while and we were just talking about lots of different stuff. I don’t remember exactly why, but the Cherokee Park Race came up and both Wayne and I had different vivid memories of the race. Different years, but close to the same experiences.
Cherokee Park is close to downtown Louisville and was a around a 3 mile circuit with a good climb on it. The course was selective because of how many laps you had to do over the hill.
Wayne told a story about in the mid-70’s, he and his brother Dale had broken away from the field with a little skinny Canadian kid. Wayne said that he and Dale got sort of in a dispute about who was going to win the race, with Dale saying that Wayne got to win last week. Anyway, Wayne said they totally disregarded the third party, little Canadian kid, until the sprint when they were waxed by him in the sprint. It turned out to be Steve Bauer, who wasn’t on their radar until that very moment. Steve went on to become an unbelievable cyclist, wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour and finishing on the podium in lots of classic, worlds, and the Olympic Games.
My story was similar, but a little different. I’d driven all night and was at Louisville with a girl named Harvey Heim. We were staying at host housing close to the park. Anyway, I got in a break with about 6 other riders, two of which were Wayne Stetina and their little brother Joel. Joel was my age and was pretty good, but not riding like his brothers. Anyway, I was stoked to be in the break and was pulling as hard as I could.
The finish was at the top of a hill, on curve to the finish. Anyway, I was hoping for a top 5 finish, figuring I could beat at least two other riders. I was a first year senior and I really didn’t have any idea who any of the other guys were, but they all seemed better than me.
The sprint started and I was in okay position. Wayne started leading it out and I moved up on the inside and took the short line. Right then, this medium build stocky guy, that had been sort of just floating, not showing any sign of strength, came by on the outside and sounded beat us. I finished 2nd and was thrilled.
So, I rode back to the host house to tell Harvey, who had raced the women’s race. I finished showering and this guy came into the house and was waiting for the woman that lived there. He asked me if I had race, I said I had, then I proudly told him I got 2nd place. He asked me in what race. I told him the 1/2 race. Then he told me that he had won. Man, was I deflated.
It turned out, it was another Canadian, this time Hugh Walton. He was probably already something like 15 time Canadian Nationals Champion, mostly on the track and had ridden the Olympic Games a couple years earlier. I ended up riding on the Levis team with Hugh a few years later.
Wayne learned of Steve Bauer at Cherokee Park and I think it was my first real experience beating national caliber riders. Wayne was probably seasoned enough that he should have not disregarded Steve, but I had no way of knowing about Hugh. Wayne knew about Hugh, but not about me. I learned that I needed to know, to the best of my knowledge, the abilities of each and every rider in a break with me.
Cherokee Park was a good course. They held the National Road Championships on the course, the Master’s Nationals and lots of other prestigious races. I would love to have a chance to race there again sometime.
I’m off today to Cable, Wisconsin, to hang and ride MTB’s for a couple days. I have a few other things to do up in the area too. Below is a video from around Chequamegon. This is some of the awesome new singletrack that Camba has recently built. It is a blast to ride. There is something like 400 miles of marked trails there. Unreal riding. The video might make you a little dizzy. Enjoy.