New Bedford Classic/Whaling City

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I haven’t been spending very much time on the Internet and I rarely go to Facebook, but yesterday a couple guys posted stuff about Whaling City Criterium, from the past.  I did the race just a couple times, but was lucky enough to win it once.

It was a super race, big prize list and challenging course with a small hill.  Plus it was in a pretty great town, very interesting fishing village-type place.  I truly enjoyed going there.

The year I won was 1985.  That was the year I crashed into a car at the British Milk Race going super fast and had broken myself up pretty good.  But I got healed and I had just finished the Coor’s Classic.  I had been training pretty hard, at altitude, for the  World Road Championships in Italy.  It was on the way, sort of, so I flew from Denver to Boston, raced and then back to Boston to fly to Italy.

I only had two Raleigh teammates there, Greg Demgen and Paul Biskup.  As it turned out, that was enough.  The morning of the race, we woke up to rain.  Like really raining.  Paul, Greg and I went out and warmed up pretty hard.  We were taking the race pretty seriously.

The race started fast.  Early on, I got off the front with Alan McCormick.  I’d raced with Alan for years and knew exactly his capabilities.  Alan and I worked pretty good together.  About 1/2 way through the race, I was leading into a slight off-camber, shallow corner and next thing I know I’m sliding on my side into the curb.  I got up and rode to the pit to take a free lap.

Alan came around fairly soon and I got back in.  We had a set pulling routine, but when we got over to where I fell, I pulled over and asked Alan if he’d pull through the corner.  I was a little skittish.

We lapped nearly the whole field.  At the end, we were in a small group of guys.  I think Alan had a teammate in the group.  The race finished up the hill, then a right corner and a short way to the finish.  Obviously the first guy through the last corner was going to win.

I was pretty confident that I was going to be able to jump Alan up the hill and do just that.  But just a second or 2 before I was going to jump, Alan attacked me from behind.  It was pretty early.

I jumped and was surprised how quick Alan was going,  I was hardly gaining on him.  Just 50 meters before the corner, Alan lost momentum and I came around him just in time to lead through the corner and, thus, win the race.  Greg finished 3rd, so we had two riders on the podium.

Back then, it was good prize money at all these races.  I’m sure we made over a grand each, all three of us. There was also super post-race parties.  I was still focused on the Worlds, so took that night pretty cautiously.  I hung for a while and then walked down to the pier and watched all the fishing boats return.

It was pretty late, well after midnight, and the dock was busy.  It was amazing the different fish that they were unloading off their boats.  I stayed down there at least an hour watching.

I had a rental car and then headed to the Boston airport.  I had a flight to London, then London to Venice.  When I got to the airport, at the ticket counter, it said that stand-by tickets were $100.  My ticket was something closer to $400.  Those were the days that you could get your money back for plane tickets.  When I got up to the counter, I asked the woman if there were stand-by seats available and she said there were tons of open seats and she could give me a seat assignment.  I said sure, so pocketed another $300.  I felt rich.

Anyway, thanks to Mark McCormick for posting the newspaper article.  It great to see his and his brother, Frank, names in the junior results.  I have some more photos that I’ll try to dig out later.


Here is the New Bedford paper's article.

Here is the New Bedford paper’s article.

The next year, I felt good and tried my best to stay on Gag, but that didn't work out so well.

A couple years later,, I felt good and tried my best to stay on Gag, but that didn’t work out so well.  He won road races.  I was riding with Alan then, on the Schwinn team, so Alan finally won the event too.  Wayne Stetina, Mr. Shimano, was 3rd.

I obviously wasn't the only rider that fell that day.

I obviously wasn’t the only rider that fell that day.

Greg Demgen at the pre-race parade.

Greg Demgen at the pre-race parade.

At the road world in Italy. Roy Knickman, me, Thurlow Rogers and Greg Saunders.

At the road Worlds in Italy. Roy Knickman, me, Thurlow Rogers and Greg Saunders.

14 thoughts on “New Bedford Classic/Whaling City

  1. Michelle

    What a great chance to go through some of the old photos, newspaper clippings, and stories and make your book .

  2. KrakatoaEastofJava

    Man, I loved free laps after a low/no injury crash. I felt like I had 50% more energy.

    Great nostalgia, thanks so much for sharing!

    I’ve just recently discovered that almost all of my racing photos from the 80’s are just plain gone. So I love seeing anything from the period, even if I wasn’t there.

  3. GaryO

    Steve great post! I started my racing career back in the late 80’s in New England, Frank & Mark McCormick were the local racing legends at the time! I had the pleasure of training with Betsy King in the late 80’s early 90’s. She introduced me to cyclocross in 1990 when she was living in CT. I lost touch with her after fallout with the USCF. All good times! Thanks for the post! Hope you are feeling better!!!

  4. Emacdo

    Oi, I fail the Cycling History Test! This is the professional race. What a moron. Apologies Steve and everyone else! McCormick was in this race, Steve was in the Amateur race.

    Nonetheless, it’s good footage.

  5. Steve Tilford Post author

    Emacdo – Yep. Alan was professional. I didn’t turn Pro until the next year. Kind of wished I would have stayed amateur another couple so I made an Olympic team. Pros couldn’t be on the Olympics back then. Anyway, Alan was riding good. He was off the front, leading the break up the climb towards the end of the race. Pretty good for an Irish crit rider.

  6. Bruce

    I love hearing about racing in the 70-80’s. Does anybody reading this remember the Lowenbrau / Pepsi series in Wisconsin in the 80″s. Not to be confused with “Super Week.” I know they introduced a World Champion Pursuit rider in the field.

  7. Make My Day, Punk

    Right. Still going strong I guess:
    “Domestique, a common term in cycling, is a rider who attends to every need of his team and his captain. George Hincapie is known as one of the greatest domestiques of all time, assisting in 9 Tour de France wins along with countless other victories during his career. “

  8. Choppy Warburton

    What ‘wins’ did Hincappie assist with ?

    One thing is for sure, George had an honorable and distinguished career in cycling. Like that time he bought a stage win and then chiseled down the bribe from euros to dollars.

    In 2005 he had his first stage win in the Tour de France where, on July 17, he finished seven seconds ahead of climber Óscar Pereiro to win Stage 15 from Lézat-sur-Lèze to Pla d’Adet. In January 2014, Pereiro acknowledged in a radio show that during the final climb, Hincapie turned his head and said 50,000, which Pereiro assumed was in Euros, although Hincapie was referring to U.S. dollars. Pereiro accepted the offer and sold the stage to Hincapie.

    Or when he summed up his career and love of the sport –

    “Because of my love for the sport, the contributions I feel I have made to it, and the amount the sport of cycling has given to me over the years, it is extremely difficult today to acknowledge that during a part of my career I used banned substances. Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them. I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.”

    “Now take a look at these Hincappie fashion jeans… a bargain at only $19.99”


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