COXSACKIE — The sky was sunny but there was a brisk, chilly wind as cyclists, from novice racers to professionals, gathered at the starting line for the start of the second day of racing in the Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial Race Series.
The race, held in early spring, lines up at the parking lot of Coxsackie-Athens High School and meanders through several loops that take riders through Coxsackie and neighboring Athens.
“This is my third time in this race,” said New York City cyclist Justin Wood. “I love it — the wind always makes it interesting. It’s not a hilly race, but there is a lot of wind and that can split the groups apart. With wind, there is a better chance that there will be breakaway groups. It’s a very nice race.”
The race is sponsored by the Capital Bicycle Racing Club and each year honors Trooper David Brinkerhoff, who died in the line of duty on April 25, 2007.
There are four categories of cyclists — the A, B, C and D divisions — and each is tailored to riders of different abilities, giving everyone a chance to compete.
The route runs along a 12-mile loop, with the more experienced cyclists completing the loop more times, for a longer total distance.
Jeff Krywanczyk, president of the Capital Bicycle Racing Club, was among the riders in the A division, which competes along the longest route. He graduated from the lower levels a couple of years ago.
“I have been doing this race for seven years. This is my second time in the A division,” Krywanczyk said. “It’s a longer route and some of us are on teams and we use different tactics — you can do breakaways to make other teams work their legs more so our guys will have fresher legs.”
After lining up at the high school parking lot, groups of cyclists headed for Johnny Cake Lane, where the race officially began. They then headed to Adams Road, then on to State Route 385 before making for the village of Athens. There, they turned onto Union Street and then to Farm to Market Road, for a 12.1-mile loop.
Depending on the cyclist’s ability level, they completed the loop between two and five times. The most experienced field of riders raced for 60 miles, while the newer cyclists rode for 24 miles.
The race was not closed, meaning traffic was present on the roads, with police and race officials ensuring riders’ safety.
The two-weekend series, which began last Saturday on April 7, is one of the earliest competitions of the cycling season, and has become a staple in the racing community, drawing hundreds of competitors each year.
“I have been in this race a handful of times. It’s great for racing,” said Karl Rahn, who competed in the A division. “It’s a beautiful course. There are one or two hills, but it is considered a flat course. The wind makes it dynamic and a specific kind of cyclist tends to do well in this kind of race — the big guys tend to do better in windy races.”
Jim Anderson used to compete in the race, but now opts to volunteer as a race marshal.
“I used to ride this race for three years in a row. I decided to start marshalling,” Anderson said. “It’s fun. It’s volunteer and I’m a lot warmer than the riders. I have had some very interesting experiences with this race and the weather — there has been snow, equipment has frozen, and the wind is always something to deal with.”
“The wind is a hill that never crests,” Anderson added.
The race series is sanctioned by USA Cycling, so it counts towards competing cyclists’ official records.
Each year, the Capital Bicycle Racing Club donates a portion of the race’s proceeds to local charitable organizations, as well as the Coxsackie-Athens High School Scholarship that is awarded to a graduating senior in Trooper David Brinkerhoff’s honor.