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Frozen Onion Race Report

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |February 14, 2012 1:33 AM
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Frozen Onion - Montpelier, Vermont

Written by: Matthew Williams

Lower than average snowfall across New England had one bright side last weekend, at least for local mountain bikers. Conditions were nearly perfect for the 3rd annual edition of the Frozen Onion race. Held just behind Vermont’s capitol building in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park, the Frozen Onion has become a yearly celebration of bike culture in the middle of Vermont’s winter.

This year the course featured a tough climb up to the Hubbard Park tower, a number of good descents, and even a singletrack section. The crew at Onion River Sports did their best to make the course safe and ride-able by spreading hay and salt in dangerous sections the morning of the race.

But even with the improvements made by the ORS crew, it was still a winter race, and the conditions brought out a number of interesting equipment choices. Some rode dedicated snow bikes, others tried their luck with cross rigs, and rigid forks were common. But most riders made do with a simple adjustment to their set-ups: "low tire pressure.”

In the men’s race it was Adam Whitney (Seven Cycles) who took the hole shot and led the field towards the race’s first major obstacle—the climb to the tower. Though icy in spots, the climb was ride-able with the right combination of good line choice and low tire pressure. It was there that Matt Williams (MTBRaceNews.com) and Noah Tautfest (Bicycle Express) slipped away from the rest of the field. Williams and Tautfest would stay away for the rest of the race, trading turns at the front, with neither able to gain an advantage. Both played it safe on the downhill and singletrack portions of the course and instead worked to extend their advantage on the climbs. Williams led for most of the 4th and final lap, leading out the sprint and taking the win by a wheel length. Behind, Whitney consolidated his hold on 3rd, while Corey Westfall out sprinted Christopher Hamlin for 4th. "In a way the conditions were too good,” Williams said afterwards, "because it meant we could ride really hard. That hurt.” 

In the women’s race Marilyn Ruseckas (Seven Cycles) took a commanding win. She led from the gun and crossed the line nearly three minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. Behind her twins Elisa Otter (Union College) and Nina Otter (Mountain Moxie) rode together for most of the race and took 2nd and 3rd respectively—decked out in full costumes no less. Kelly Ault (Mountain Moxie) road well to finish 4th.

Post-race riders gathered around the fire for homemade chile, hot chocolate, an awards banquet and the raffle. Women’s podium finisher Nina Otter summed up the mood well: "the central VT mountain bike community came out for a great off-season reunion today.”

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