By Samuel Weisman, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – Cyclists of all ages participated in the Tour de Loop, a bicycle race, which started and ended in front of Rudy’s Restaurant on Lake Ontario Saturday.
This was the 15th year the race has been held there. Itâ€™s hosted by the Oswego YMCA and sponsored by Ontario Orchards and Rudyâ€™s.
In a tight race, Oswego native Craig Nichols sped into first place down the final stretch and won the 50-mile event with a time of 2:14:53.32. He surged ahead of second place finisher Dan Staffo of Farmington, NY, who clocked in with a time of 2:14:53.47.
The 24-year-old Nichols, who races for Team Ommegang Syracuse Bikes, said, “I pretty much just pay attention to the guy ahead of me and this guy was great,” referring to Staffo.
“I stayed on his wheels and tried to peel off there at the end,” he continued.
When asked about his win he added, “I feel good. I really enjoyed it.”
This was Nichols’ second time competing in this event.
Staffo, 39, said, “It’s challenging and fun. It’s good to see a lot of upcoming riders in this league.”
Doug Carlson, 42, of Alpine, NY, finished third with a time of 2:14:54.23.
There were 29 participants in the 50-mile event.
To qualify for the 50-mile race a cyclist must be able to complete a 30 mile ride in 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Ben Turner, owner of Murdock’s Bikes, donated four Fuji bicycles to the event. He also rode alongside racers in a truck in case of a mishap.
â€œFor 50 miles I get to drive behind the A-race. Even though it’s a smaller race it’s still pretty cool. I get to see all the lead changes and breakaways,” he said.
In the 30-mile race, referred to as the B-race, Daniel Rivers, 43 of Lowville, NY, held onto a slim lead to best a field of 209 racers.
His time was 1:15.48.57. He finished ahead of Brett Bivano, 37, of Macedin, NY, and last year’s Pan Am American Race winner Don Felice, 41, of Lewiston, NY.
Bivano finished in 1:15:48.64 and Felice finished with a time of 1:15:48.87.
Rivers said, “As far as conditioning I felt good. To be honest I was a little uneasy at the start because I haven’t competed recently, and there was a lot of good riders here today, but I had a great group and it worked out.”
“This is my 10th year in a row here and it’s wonderful,” Felice said. “The sponsors are great and it’s well organized. I love this event and I’m going to do it until my legs tell me I can’t anymore.”
Felice rides for Bike Boy Racing.
Besides the two main races there were other activities including the Kidsâ€™ Bike Challenge, which had competitors as young as 2 participate in races of various lengths.
Carol Livesey, owner of Rudy’s and one of the primary sponsors of this year’s race said, “Seeing the number of children who have come out and participated in this race is heartwarming. It makes me realize the steps parents are taking to make a foundation for healthy living.”
Her son, Jason, who manages the family restaurant added, “I am very proud of this event. The fact that we are able to help develop this as a community event that people can get excited for is really what it’s about for us.”
The money raised by this year’s Tour De Loop will help finance programs at the YMCA.
These programs include a before and after child care program, swimming lessons and regular child daycare.
“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Oswego YMCA,” according to Mary Gilbert. “As a non-profit organization the money we charge from membership doesn’t cover all the costs, and in lieu of donations this allows us to get community participation, and accomplish our mission of promoting healthy lifestyles.”
Gilbert, who is the volunteer coordinator for the Tour De Loop said, “Usually a week after the race is over we start recruiting sponsors for the next year. Rudy’s has been absolutely wonderful as well as Ontario Orchards.”
It takes about 70 volunteers and assistance from the Oswego and Oneida county sheriff’s and fire departments to organize and monitor the races. The Oswego City Police and emergency medical services were on site as well to help keep the event safe.
Gilbert added that her favorite part of the race is when it is over “because it’s relatively dangerous, and having it end without incident is always comforting.”