Chris Scholes moved to Juneau too late to know Nick Frangos, who was the dominant cyclist in the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club just over a decade ago.
Frangos, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard and twice won the National Armed Services cycling championship, died too young when he was killed in a 1992 boat accident while deer hunting on the back side of Douglas Island. The next year, the Juneau Freewheelers honored Frangos by creating an annual 24-mile out-and-back memorial race along the North Douglas Highway, one of the late cyclist's favorite training rides.
On Saturday, Scholes won his third straight title in the Nick Frangos Memorial Bike Race and Group Ride as he edged Chris Chiles by the tread width of a bike tire in a tight 10-person sprint for the finish line. All 10 riders in the lead pack were given the same time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 11 seconds, including top female rider Tara Jeans, who finished fifth overall and was the only woman to stay with the leaders.
"I know how much he meant to you, so I really wanted to win this race," Scholes told race director and Frangos' frequent training partner John McConnochie after the awards ceremony.
Scholes and Chiles were at the back as the lead pack crested the hill before the finish line near the Kowee Creek bridge, but Scholes shot up the left side and Chiles came through the middle of the pack to pull more than a bike-length ahead of the other eight riders as they powered for the finish. Chiles led as they approached the line, but Scholes lunged ahead at the finish cones, holding the lead just long enough to get past them before Chiles pulled back ahead in a sprint that required race officials to view two separate videotapes to determine the winner.
Terry Ward took third place, followed by Steve Box and Jeans. The other riders in the lead pack were Jan Kriegel, Dave Pusich, Joe Sorenson, Frank Rue and Dave Ringle. There were 29 racers - 24 men and five women - and four group riders (three men, one woman) who were untimed.
"We pretty much came from behind," said Scholes, who moved to Juneau from Colorado a little more than three years ago. "Nobody wanted to pull on that last section. It was a good clean sprint. It got tight, though. I think Terry got bundled up with someone (Rue) in the middle. But that's typical of a group sprint, someone always gets boxed in."
"Chris and I pretty much came from the back of the pack sprinting," Chiles said. "It was all right. It wasn't terribly fast on the way out, but we picked up the pace on the way back. I don't think I rode the smartest race. I burned energy where nobody else did. I wanted to make everybody work, and I powered up some hills."
The finish sprint got somewhat boisterous, as Rue said his left gearshifter got caught in Ward's shorts at the same time he was bumping wheels with Jeans. But none of the riders crashed, even though there were a couple of close calls.
"It did get ugly," Ward said. "Tara took off and I started to sprint, then Chris (Scholes) came whipping around me on the left. It was close. It could have been a disaster."
"I heard a few nicks and bumps," said Jeans, who was in the lead pack for the first time. "It was the first time I've sprinted at the end of a race. I just heard their wheels whish by and I didn't know who it was. Terry and I were near the front when those guys went by. I'm very happy with my ride."
For the first time, Jeans was able to stay with the lead pack for the entire race. But a second woman almost joined her in the lead group.
Betsy Fischer, who was Jeans' teammate on the winning four-woman team Velo Valkyrie in June's Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay, took second place among women and was 12th overall as she posted a time of 1:02:45. Fischer was with the lead pack all the way to a hill just past False Outer Point where the cyclists neared the turnaround, but her husband, Scott Fischer (13th overall), dropped back and helped Betsy reclaim a spot in the lead pack for a bit on the ride back to the Douglas Bridge.
"That's the first time I've ridden in the main pack (for that much of the race)," Betsy Fischer said. "They dropped me at False Outer Point, but Scott caught me back up. Scott offered to ride with me and help me out."
Gail Johnson, whose only previous race was the Jack and Jill Time Trial last weekend, took third place among women and 19th overall in 1:12:35. Johnson normally attends the races in support of her fiance, Dave Harju, but Harju has been sick and this time he drove a support vehicle.
"I didn't stay with that lead group at all," Johnson said. "I don't think I could keep up with that group. My plan is to keep up with those guys one of these days."
The youngest rider in the race was Karl Twelker, a 19-year-old college student who took 14th place in 1:04:56, while the oldest was 67-year-old Bill Johnson who was 27th in 1:25:12. Bill Johnson used to be a frequent rider in Juneau Freewheelers races, but was riding for the first time this season.
"I want something like a 65-and-older division," Johnson said. "They've got a 50-and-older division, but I can't stay with those guys. I had a good ride, a beautiful ride, though."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NICK FRANGOS MEMORIAL BIKE RACE AND GROUP RIDE
Results from the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club's Nick Frangos Memorial Bike Race and Group Ride, a 24-mile ride along the North Douglas Highway from near the Douglas Bridge to beyond False Outer Point and back.
Race finishers - 1. Chris Scholes, Male, Age 34, 1 hour, 2 minutes, 11 seconds; 2. Chris Chiles, M, 35, 1:02:11; 3. Terry Ward, M, 46, 1:02:11; 4. Steve Box, M, 36, 1:02:11; 5. Tara Jeans, Female, 34, 1:02:11 (first female); 6. Jan Kriegel, M, 42, 1:02:11; 7. Dave Pusich, M, 37, 1:02:11; 8. Joe Sorenson, M, 42, 1:02:11; 9. Frank Rue, M, 53, 1:02:11; 10. Dave Ringle, M, 42, 1:02:11; 11. Dave Walker, M, 45, 1:02:39; 12. Betsy Fischer, F, 51, 1:02:45; 13. Scott Fischer, M, 52, 1:02:45; 14. Karl Twelker, M, 19, 1:04:56; 15. Neil Slotnick, M, 46, 1:07:14; 16. Lewis Brooks, M, 51, 1:08:36; 17. Rob Waldman, M, 52, 1:10:59; 18. Dan Robinson, M, 36, 1:11:03; 19. Gail Johnson, F, 27, 1:12:25; 20. Mike Baxter, M, 32, 1:12:26; 21. Dennis Travis, M, 42, 1:12:54; 22. Jim Akin, M, 55, 1:12:58; 23. Gen Moreau-Johnson, F, 39, 1:12:58; 24. Steve White, M, 55, 1:12:58; 25. Rob Johnson, M, 47, 1:21:37; 26. Scott Yarnall, M, 35, 1:22:13; 27. Bill Johnson, M, 67, 1:25:12; 28. Jeanne Van Lander, F, 34, 1:26:15; DNF: Dave Bartlett, M, 38, flatted while in lead group about two miles from finish line.
Group riders (no times or ages available) - Richard Rainery, M; Michael Hoskins, M; Krysta Williams, F; Robert Laurie, M.