The Devil Came to Zoar

I’ve seen The Devil in person, let’s see, 5 times now.

1. 2002 – UCI World Championships, Belgium
2. 2006 – Deutschland Tour, Germany
3. 2006 – UCI World Championships, Austria
4 & 5. 2007/08 – Zoar Road Race, Ohio

To the majority of cycling fans, The Devil is Didi Senft. He’s the crazy German guy who dresses in a devil suit and manages to get on TV during the Tour de France and other big races. He also smells really bad.

The other devil shows up at the Zoar Road Race, put on by the Stark Velo cycling team (this is from 2007):

Didi Senft may have spawned a few imitators, but none as charming as this kid. I know it brought a smile to my face each time we came by, no matter how much we were suffering (last year in the pouring rain, this year trying to keep the breakaway successful).

We should all be grateful that races like this can still happen. Good road racing courses seem to be disappearing. Ask anyone who’s tried to put on a road race, and you’ll hear about complaints from residents and hassles with the local governments. Anyone who’s willing to face that unpleasantness deserves a little appreciation. Hats off to the Stark Velo team for putting the race on. It’s a great road course.

We go to a lot of races where the only spectators are the racers changing clothes after their race. Then everyone gets in their cars and drives away.

At Zoar you’ve got the devil, people at the top of the climb cheering, people willing to hand water at the feed zone, Don Cernanek riding moto support. And you’ve got the Zoar Harvest Festival that is going on.

Something I noticed while racing in Germany 2 years ago (and in Italy several years before that): most of the local races were held in conjunction with some kind of festival. The Kenosha race at Superweek is like that too. There’s a different feeling to the race when you’ve got some kind of community event going on. And at the same time, it likely helps build support in community at large. Might it also preempt the annoyance at being inconvenienced by those damn cyclists?

The race itself? It worked out well. I suppose it’s easier to write about races that go well. Otherwise you’re mostly complaining. Tom Dominic (Spin) and I got away, earlier than I would have otherwise expected. It didn’t seem that the break would end up succeeding, but we put everything we had into it, and in the end it worked. I took the sprint for the win.

I think it helped having the devil running by us each lap.


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3 responses to “The Devil Came to Zoar

  1. This year was the first time I’d done Zoar, and I will definately be back next year! The half mile or so leading up to the finish was really sketchy in the 3/4 race because it was a pack finish, but I didn’t have the legs to contest it at that point and just hung back.

    Are you doing the Valley City Street Fair Road Race this year? Also, there’s some good pics of you linked to off the Stark Velo website.


  2. Screw the festivals and forget the kid: Where’s the bacon kiosk?

  3. Brian

    Gary: yeah, I’m planning on being at the Valley City race. That’s another road course I like.

    Jimmynick: well, you know, in Germany there was ALWAYS some kind of Wurst available at the races. And beer. There was always beer. Even at 11am on Sunday, when the beer stand was in the church courtyard.

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