Sunday, July 1, 2007

2007 Senior Olympics

by Earl Hill

Two members of North Iowa Spin participated in the 2007 Senior Olympics currently being held in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 2007 Senior Olympics, otherwise known as the Summer National Senior Games, is the world’s largest multi-sport biennial event. Competitors must qualify in his/her home state by finishing in the top two in his/her age group at a NSGA (National Senior Games Association) sanctioned event. 15,000 athletes from across the nation compete in 18 sports over 16 days, June 22 to July 7. An athlete must be at least 50 years old by December 31, 2007, in order to compete. The oldest cycling competitor was David Ward, a 91 year old from Massachusetts.

Don Jacobusse (known as Jake) and I competed in the cycling events. Don participated in the time trials as well as the road races. I limited my participation to the time trials.

Initially the National Senior Games website, scheduled the venue for the cycling events at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. (Mr. Sawyer was Diane Sawyer’s father—not the young man in the Mark Twain’s novels.) By letter dated March 12, 2007, we were notified the venue had been changed to Cherokee Park (claimed to be the course of the USCF Masters Road Nationals in August 2003) and maps of the various courses were posted on the Senior Games website. These maps depicted the races as point to point. Upon my arrival in Louisville, before registering, I checked the Senior Games website only to discover the time trial courses had been changed once again to out and back courses.

Check-in was at the Kentucky Expo Center. At check-in, we were told to obtain our numbers and the timing transponder (chip) for our bikes at something called Hogan’s Fountain supposedly located in Cherokee Park. I never did find Hogan’s Fountain (although I did find the park), so it was back to the Expo Center. This time we were told to pick up our numbers and chips in Room 105. No one had told us to bring our bikes. A couple of guys were attaching chips to bikes just outside Room 105. We were told that only they knew how to attach the chips. Frankly, the chips were attached to the left rear stay by a zip tie. I wasn’t about to drive back to the hotel for my bike, so I decided I knew how to attach a chip with a zip tie. I did not disappoint myself.

The “Cycling Competitors Technical Guide,” given to us at check-in, instructed us to attach our numbers to the upper left of the back of the jersey. Upon arrival at the race site, we were instructed to change the numbers to the upper right of the back of the jersey. In addition, the style of chip pictured in the “Cycling Competitors Technical Guide” did not match the chip presented for installation.
Nevertheless, we must remember that most of these events are populated by volunteers who know little or nothing about bike racing. Therefore, we need to be quick to overlook these little hitches and appreciate the effort put forth so we might compete. Once the races got underway, it was my perception they went without a flaw.

Each day the temperature started in the high 60s with humidities in the high 80s to low 90s. On June 26, my wife and I saw a time and temperature sign reading 103ยบ.

In closing, may I quote from the comment posted by Kim West to my discussion of the Iowa Senior Games:

“[J]udging only by the equipment, you’d think this was a JUNIOR’S event, not a grown up race: everyone had such nice toys!!

“[I]t is also apparent that the training for this event is getting pretty darn serious—the results are impressive up and down the age-group lines.”

The same came be said about the National Senior Games.


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