Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Longsjo Memory from Bob Simpson Winner in 1968

In 1968, I was just 19 years old. I had a good sprint and was a good bike handler, so I did well in the criterium races that year. The previous year, I had placed well in the Fitchburg Junior race and it seemed that the circuit was one that I was happy with.

In the 1968 Art Longsjo Classic, Fran├žois Mertens, John Aschen, and I attacked simultaneously to break away. We got a good rhythm going and held off the main pack. Aschen, who was not the best sprinter, led out the final kilometer and Fran├žois and I jumped past on either side of him in the sprint to the finish line. My good acceleration and the fact that Francois waited for me to go, making it a short sprint, worked in my favour and I won by a couple of bike lengths.

The prize for first place, that year, was a console colour TV which John Gromek and I stuffed mostly into the trunk of our ’55 Chevy to take back to New Jersey. We must have somehow put our bikes in the back seat of the car we didn’t have a roof racks in those days. On the drive home from the race, we were stopped by the police who wanted to check to make sure that we hadn’t stolen the TV that was hanging out of the trunk. The next year I couldn’t attend the race, but the winner, Jocelyn Lovell, won a car for first place if I remember correctly!

At the time, only the 9th running of the race, I was the youngest to win, at 19 years old.

When I raced in the Fitchburg Junior race the year before, I remember watching Sammy Watson, who had won in 1966, prepare to drive away after his race with all of his equipment, bikes and bags, packed inside of his Volkswagen Beetle. I was greatly impressed by his ability to squeeze everything into that little car. -Bob Simpson

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