Stan’s Obligatory Blog


A holiday at home

Filed under: — stan @ 5:18 pm

It was Monday, July 4, 1977, and I rode a bike race in Rahway, NJ. It was billed as “A Holiday at Home” because the big east coast races on the 4th of July weekend were in New England, so this was a race for people who didn’t feel like traveling to Massachussetts. This was my third step towards my Category 2 upgrade, so it was a significant day.

The Junior race was something like 10 or 15 miles. The course was a short, four-corners criterium course through downtown Rahway. The course went underneath the railroad tracks in two places. The race was pretty fast. I never got the front to try to break away, and most it was a blur. I don’t remember much about this race, aside from one incident right by the finish line.

Around the middle of the race, there was a crash right as we passed the finish line, and several riders went down. One of them was Frank Kaler, who was the rider who had helped me win the Challenge Cup race back in April. My recollection was that he seemed to crash in a lot of races. That and that he had the orange-tread D’Alessandro tires that always seemed to pop off his rims when he crashed. Usually, when riders crash, they are off the course by the next time the pack came around, but this time, we came around, and Frank was still lying in the road with the ambulance crew around him. He was still there on the next lap, too. Then he was gone, and I never saw him at a race ever again. I heard later that he’d fractured his skull, and was told not to race any more. Back in those days, helmets were the old ‘leather hairnet‘ type, and they didn’t offer the same degree of protection as modern helmets.

Somewhere along the way, one very big and strong kid named Chris Diehl broke away solo. So on the last lap, all of us in the pack were racing for second place. I’d recently learned how to position and sprint in a pack, so on the back stretch I moved up the inside. Coming out of the last corner, I was near the front. I used a 52×17 gear for the final sprint. My eyes rolled back into my head and I went for it. I came in fifth in the sprint, for sixth place overall.

This finish meant that I now had one first-place finish, one fourth-place finish, and a sixth-place finish. All I needed now was one more top three finish, or two more top six finishes to get my Category 2. The goal was within sight.

My prize for the day was a $25 savings bond, which I saved for many years like a trophy. I finally cashed it in 1988 when Cathy and I were buying our first condo. So in a small way, my ride in this race helped me to enter the southern California real estate market.

3 Responses to “A holiday at home”

  1. Gene Says:

    How big was the $25 condo? You could have saved up for the 199 sq ft estate with the view of the L A river.

  2. stan Says:

    Well, the $25 only covered about 0.01983% of the condo, or about 0.17 square feet.

  3. Keith Says:

    I was going nuts trying to remember the slogan for this race…I lived in Rahway for 10 years and went to the races for at least 5 of those years (or it seemed like 5). Good to read about the race from the racer’s perspective. I rode at the time but not competitively…I still have (and occasionally ride my Panasonic DX-2000…a classic!).

    Thanks again (another memory returned to me!)

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