2022 Cazenovia Hillbender

May 7th, It was time for one of the best races of the year, Caz Hillbender. The Chimps look forward to this event every year and really gear up for the event as it is only one of very few where we can all race at the same time. This is a team event seeing 9 of the 12 chimps turn up. Jon summarized why we love this race so well, “The course is great because it has a little of everything. Rolling hills, false flats, some tight corners in the villages …” 

PC: Tom Kleaban

There were some big hitters in this year’s field and the chimps had their eye on the stiff competition. The first lap always shows who is on form and who is not. Heading down Rt 13 for the first time the field of 80 were still pretty well together. The first turn onto Corwin is where the fireworks start. On this day the field was broken up a bit by a crash on the corner by Jamie Campbell. Thankfully he was ok enough to get up but did DNF later that lap due to some hip pain. If a rider can hang on this climb and hold it to the top of Ridge Rd, it will be an OK day. Heading up Ridge Rd the Chimps lost Pat McNeill and Ken out the back of the main group with Ben, Tony, Rob, Jon, Eric, Dave and Scott in the main group. At the front of the race Eric notes that he was  “Able to make the break after the first lap out of the gorge and into town with approximately 10 remaining.” Eric’s role on the day was to “Focus my efforts on helping keep my teammate out of the wind, especially on ridge road rollers on the back side, leading into the gorge/final climb.” Included in that group of 10 was Jon; 2 in the top 10 is a good day. 

The chase group at this point saw Scott, Rob, Ben Rabin, Tony and Dave battle it out with the majority of the field. They worked well together throughout the lead lap and a half to conserve energy and burn as little matches as they could. 

In the back of the field Ken was battling some mechanical issues with a dropped chain but was pulled along by Ben Gaulin and a group of 4. They worked well together l down Dyke Rd bridging up to a larger group of 7 which included Pat and Joel Delaney. Joel, Ben G, Pat and Ken did a majority of the work for this now group of 12 trying to help those that had little race experience or pace line experience. 

While Ken and Pat were trying to survive, the fireworks were going off at the front of the race. Jon was quoted saying “Lots of attacks from guys within the group.” Eric on the other hand saw it as a bit more than just attacks: “Massive attack from a cat two Rider after making the turn out of Chittenango on the last lap, he was able to get 20 to 25 seconds up the road. Another strong Rider who is a Cat two or three did a ton of work to close that gap.” On the final climb Jon was able to climb with the best of them landing him in 3rd place while Eric was able to hold on to a wide angle podium spot in 6th or 7th. In the Dave, Scott, and Rob group, Rob recounts, “Tate drifted off prior to the last climb and was able to stay away.  Stewart and I did what we could and raced smart but just didn’t have the firepower at the finish.” “Several of our opponents had been taking long, long pulls at the front so I was banking on being able to roll off without a strong fight. My legs had started to tighten up so I was either going to sink like a stone or just beat out a steady tempo. Fortune was on my side.” – Tate

Overall it was a great day to ride bikes and support an amazing cause. Chapeau to Pursuit Racing for collecting the coveted team prize, they have put a strong core of riders together and we’re glad to have local team competition once again. We thank Rick Cote and John Roadarmel for all of their hard work over the past 14 years to make this event possible. We will certainly be back next year as we have some unfinished business to attend too.

(edits courtesy Dave Tate)