Nikolz wins whale of race

Racers in the Whale of a Crit bike race zoom through the course at upwards of 30 mph Sunday during Whaling Days.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Racers in the Whale of a Crit bike race zoom through the course at upwards of 30 mph Sunday during Whaling Days.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

While most the world was caught up with who’s rising, who’s dropping and who’s doping in the Tour de France, Silverdale too hosted some exciting cycling.

The Whale of a Crit returned to Whaling Days, with 40 riders competing in the Pro-Amatuer Elite division Sunday, the main event.

And after all was said and done, it was Chad Nikolz of AxleyUSA narrowly edging Hagens-Berman LLP’s Ian Tubbs for the title, and the lion’s share of the $1,700 pot.

But beyond the money, which few could have used more than Nikolz, was his own performance, as the 28-year-old Seattle native nearly gave up his pro dreams in the months prior.

“You know what? Three months ago I was still trying to become pro,” Nikolz said. “I was broke as a joke, living in my car. Now we’re trying to grow this grass-roots Washington team.”

After giving racing up, Nikolz was hired at AxleyUSA, an Italian company that makes sunglasses tailored to athletes. When the company opened a Seattle office, Nikolz began working there. Shortly after, the company talked about putting together a team. So for Nikolz and his squad, the win was exciting.

“To win today is great,” he said. “We’re trying to be a top program.”

Racing the Whale of a Crit for the first time, Nikolz was impressed with the course, particular its seven sharp turns at speeds upwards of 30 mph.

“This course is as tight and technical as they come,” he said. “It’s one of the most technical courses. You’re going 30 mph around this thing.”

He said the difficulty of the course, which closed part of Silverdale Way and runs through part Old Town Silverdale, showed that while the race is new, organizers Peter Braun and Joe Holmes certainly aren’t.

“It’s a new course, a new area,” Nikolz said. “But the guys putting it together know their stuff. That’s cool.”

The race, which lasts an hour, saw 40 racers vie for top honors. On the stretch, it became apparent that Nikolz and Tubbs would be the top two finishers.

“Ian Tubbs is one of the, if not the fastest guy around here that never went pro,” Nikolz said. “My team kept the pace high at the end, so I just had to follow him. I was just able to sneak around him.”

That earned Nikolz the top spot, Tubbs the second and Dewar’s Mike Hainsworth finished a more distant third.

But while Nikolz was able to make the move that won the race, it was the AxleyUSA team that enabled the positioning to begin with.

“Four laps to go, they keep me in front, keep me on pace, keep me out of trouble,” Nikolz said of his team. “My team gave it to me. They’re awesome.”

Being local also made the win special, Nikolz said.

“It’s kind of a cool thing to win a local race,” he said. “Win in front of my friends and family. It’s great. Being home, if you win or lose, my friends are who beat me if I lose.”

In the Senior 3 division, Burgess Gow topped Andrew Rossette on the leader board. Tricia Bailey was able to outrace Jadine Riley for the Women’s title and Dane Ballow won the Junior Men and Women race. In Senior 4 competition, Robert Treadwell beat Nik Rebhuhn and in Senior 5/Community Open Chris Nelson was the winner with Bob Ling second.

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