AUBURN – Andrew Freye knows a thing or two about bike racing.

Usually, though, the Winthrop native and Kents Hill School grad is pedaling across rocks and tree stumps and up and down ski slopes.

On Sunday, Freye was negotiating the streets of downtown Auburn, pedaling a road bike instead of his usual mountain bike in the T&M Mortgage Solutions Great Falls Criterium.

“These road races are great training for me,” Freye said. “Ninety percent of my training comes on a road bike anyway.”

But Freye, with all of his mountain biking experience – he regularly races on the World Cup and Canadian Cup circuits – was relegated to Category 5 in Sunday’s criterium due to a lack of official road-racing experience. Category 5 is usually reserved for beginners.

“I feel bad,” Freye said after demolishing the Cat 5 field in Sunday’s race. “I bet every other guy out there (in my race) has a wife, a kid and a full-time job, and I’m some punk college kid that travels around the world to race my bike, and I’m in their race.”

Freye said he’d do more road racing if the travel were better suited to his schedule. But as a resident assistant in his dormitory at the University of Southern Maine (from which he will graduate in December), and with a full-time school schedule complete with final exams and term papers, Freye has little time to waste.

“I only do this road race every year, because it’s not worth my time to drive two-and-a-half hours to race 20 miles and make 30 bucks when I can just stay at home and get a better training ride in.”

But Freye wasn’t soured on the experience. None of the hundreds of riders who turned out for the annual two-day bicycling event appeared to be, especially after a small change to the road course Saturday.

“The pros really turned out in force this year,” event organizer John Grenier said. “It’s hard as far as criteriums go, and it tends to cause breakaways … which they like. (Saturday’s) race, we got a lot of good feedback on the course. The riders liked it a lot after we tweaked it a bit.”

The weather, which to some was less than stellar, actually helped the cyclists, giving them a cool mist through which to ride for most of the day.

“It helps to cool you down,” Auburn resident and Maine Cycling Club newcomer Jamie Loggins said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like out here with the sun beating down hard on you.”

“You can go fast and not get dehydrated,” Grenier said. “You get cold when you stop, but when you’re racing this is perfect.”

Loggins, known to many in his short time in Auburn as “the guy with the Christmas house” for his ornate light show last winter, joined the club when he arrived in town, hoping the rides would better acquaint him with the area.

Sunday was his first criterium.

“If they had a divisions by weight, I’d be in better shape for it I think,” Loggins joked. “Our club does this race, so I figured I’d come out and give it a try.”

Loggins, in the same division as Freye, finished a few laps back. But again, no sour grapes.

“He was good for support for a few laps when he drove by me, though,” Loggins said.

Loggins said he plans to do this again sometime, too.

“I would do it again,” Loggins said, grinning. “Maybe not next week or next month, but next year.”

On the women’s side, Ivy Luhrs of Minot used her forte in sprinting to pull away from the field in the Category 4 women’s race.

“I noticed when I was coming down the road, I was having a little gap,” Luhrs said. “I decided to really kick it in in the hill climb, and I noticed every time I went around I had a little bit more of a gap each time.”

The hill, just pass the intersection of Court and Turner streets and continuing up High Street, separated the sprinters from the rest of the field.

“I put myself into my time trial mode,” Luhrs said. “I’m more of a sprinter, and it’s more of a sprinter’s climb. I was able to power up it.”

Other winners on the day included Hank Pfeifle of Brunswick (55-plus); Tim Mitchell of Ashland, Mass., (Cat 4); Joshua Bardige of Brookline, Mass., (Cat 3); Eric Pearce of Chelmsford, Mass., (45-plus); Mike Norton of Massachusetts (35-plus); Debony Diehl of Jackson, N.H., (elite women); and Mike Barton of White River Junction, Vt., (elite men).

Grenier finished sixth in the 45-plus masters’ race, 26 seconds off the leader.


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