As a followup to my post about Jeannie Robinson/Omelenchuck,s track bike up
for auction, I only rode the Tour of Somerville once back in 1953.
It was a wild and wooly race.
I wasn't always the fastest guy in sprints, but pretty strong, so I tried to
break away in many races, tried to jump away 4 or 5 times but they knew
better than to let me go and chased me down very hard.
This was the 10th anniversary and first place was a Chevy car!!!
The guys knew me a little and didn't want me soloing off. My last jump came
with about two to go, they chased me down and got me with about 3/4 lap to
go if Iremember.
I got to sit in close to the front and recover a little before sprint.
Hughie Starr took advantage of the lull after they caught me and shot out
with about 1/2 lap to go and got just enuf of a gap that the mad charge down
the long straghtaway couldn't quite haul him in.
I was winding it up with the guys after the turn with the front of the
field when some crazy guy came swooping across my/our beam, whacked my RH
pedal and tore off my toe strap buckle, how he got by me, veering off and
not any of us falling still makes my imagination stagger.
I got out of seat for the jump the last 1/4 mile,almost lost my foot with
that strap gone.
Remember it was all fixed gear track bikes no brakes. My right foot was
flopping with the speed and rotation so I held on to my legs and hips for
dear life and managed a 4th in the field sprint.
Got a Nice TV, first one for our house so Mom was pleased, but the car would
have been just a little nicer. Oh well.
The next year in '54 I went back to Somerville with revenge in mind.
Ray Gasiorowski(Romic Bikes), John Polacek, and I drove to Somerville for
The day before we went out for a little stretch the leg ride and I was in
back, John in front, Ray was outside on the paved shoulder.
A long trailer Milk truck was drumming along from Pennsy to N.Y., the driver
must have fallen asleep at the wheel, drifted over, and clipped us.
The police report said he was going over 50MPH and the crash jarred him
awake so that his truck was jackknifed in the large geen parkway between the
two double lanes of the divided highway.
Now it gets interesting.
Police estimate I was thrown about 55/60 feet from point of impact!
My bike had the rear brake and seat stays munched into the seat tube.
John had a fractured skull and was out for three days, Ray was knocked down
but able to ride the race.
I had a fractured 4th and 5th lumbar verteba, broken nose, twisted but not
broken left ankle,and my left eye lid was torn so bad they thought I lost
At the accident scene a priest came by and John and I were messed up so bad
he thought we were dead or dying and gave us last rites.
I started to come around and started thrashing so much trying to get up that
they sat on me to keep me down.
I woke up in the hospital looking up at a brite light and the first thing I
heard was the doc saying I was going to be OK but he was cutting about 1/4
inch of my eyelid and couldn't believe my eye was not injured.
As I was recovering in the hospital the nurses kept wondering during nite
check if I wasn't peeking at them because my eye wouldn't be covered with
the shortened lid, took several years for that to stretch and far enuf to
close, my left ankle hurt for over 15 years about Memorial Day time, and if
I sat with my foot at the wrong angle it hurt for over twenty years till it
finally went away.
My back healed but I had to always watch how I would lift because it was
just enuf to make me look bent over like a 100 year oldster.
Even thogh I started racing again after the Tour Of Somerville in '55, and
had a fair career, it always let me know it wasn'tquite 100%.
That's why I respect and admire all the athletes that overcome adversity to
give it their all.
That's all you get today.
Palos Verdes Estates
Thanks so much for your post, David. Great to hear of your experience. Now that you mention it, I do recall seeing and hearing about the Somerset Wheelmen back then.
So many beautiful, colorful bikes there, as I recall. A feast for the eyes. And, yes, the riders were SCREAMING around the course, all bunched together. A very fast and competitive race it certainly seemed to me. I was amazed that there weren't MORE crashes than there were. It was just an astounding experience for me.
Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA
> From: David Neuhaus <email@example.com>
\r?\n> Subject: Re: [CR] Tour of Somerville,NJ
\r?\n> To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
\r?\n> Date: Friday, July 9, 2010, 11:01 AM
\r?\n> Peter -
\r?\n> I didn't race in the '77 ToS, but competed as a Junior in
\r?\n> 1974 & '75. That
\r?\n> was a tough, extremely fast race - I didn't finish either
\r?\n> time. I rode with
\r?\n> the Somerville based Somerset Wheelmen/Schwinn team, who
\r?\n> were the sponsoring
\r?\n> team of the race for years. I still have my team jersey
\r?\n> (too small for me
\r?\n> now!), my race numbers, and even the Peugeot PX-10 I raced
\r?\n> I also have a pictures of Sue Novarra on the start line in
\r?\n> her '75 track
\r?\n> sprint rainbow jersey from 1976.
\r?\n> Distant memories!
\r?\n> Dave Neuhaus
\r?\n> Fanwood, NJ, USA
\r?\n> > Message: 8
\r?\n> > Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2010 17:21:27 -0700 (PDT)
\r?\n> > From: Peter Jourdain <firstname.lastname@example.org>
\r?\n> > Subject: Re: [CR] Omelenchuk on ebay (120593108115)
\r?\n> & Tour of
\r?\n> > Somerville, NJ
\r?\n> > To: Amir Avitzur <email@example.com>,
\r?\n> > firstname.lastname@example.org,
\r?\n> Ted Ernst <email@example.com>
\r?\n> > Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
\r?\n> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
\r?\n> > Hi, Ted---
\r?\n> > Ah, the Tour of Somerville, NJ. The 1977 edition was
\r?\n> the first genuine bicycle
\r?\n> > race I ever saw. Home from college in May, I was on a
\r?\n> bicyle tour from my
\r?\n> > native Massachusetts through the Pine Barrens of New
\r?\n> Jersey and stopped for a
\r?\n> > day to visit a college friend in Somerville, who had
\r?\n> implored me to catch the
\r?\n> > race. It was a wicked criterium on a short city street
\r?\n> course as I recall with
\r?\n> > too many riders for the alloted space and several
\r?\n> tubular blowouts and
\r?\n> > flesh-ripping crashes. It was the first time I had
\r?\n> ever seen bikes like Basso,
\r?\n> > Ciocc, Cinelli, and it really opened my eyes to a
\r?\n> whole new world of
\r?\n> > competitive cycling. Wish I had owned a camera back
\r?\n> > Anybody on the CR List ride in that year's event or
\r?\n> any edition of the ToS?
\r?\n> > Cheerio,
\r?\n> > Peter Jourdain
\r?\n> > Whitewater, Wisconsin