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All good things

“It’s over! Wooo Hoooooooo!”

OK, Connie Strawser really does like the Nevada City Classic, despite that soulful shout you heard her unleashing Sunday just moments after Webcor’s Justin England crossed the finish line.

Actually, ‘like’s’ too lukewarm.



Love and hate.

Yes, that’s it.




“I ask him do you want to do the race?” Connie jokes. “Or do you want to get a divorce?”

It must be the love part that gets her to this point each year, when her family’s year-long commitment to this community comes to an end – if only for a few days before preparations for the 2005 Classic are underway.

Of course, Connie is the wife of Duane Strawser, whose family owns the Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop – to whom’s credit, no matter how hard The Union tries, will always be the authority of the Nevada City Classic.

That’s to say, without the Strawsers, there won’t be a 45th annual go-round next year.

“Duane,” Connie speaks into the handheld radio.

“Yeah,” Duane answers.

“Excuse, me,” she turns to the cyclist standing above her. “What’s your name again?”

“Phil,” he says.

“Duane, is ‘Phil’ staying at our house?”

“Well,” Duane pauses, “is he with the Navigators?”

In this case, “Phil” had a room at a local bed and breakfast under Strawser’s name, and also perhaps his dime, but rest assured there were cyclists bunking down at Connie and Duane’s Saturday and Sunday.

That’s the commitment they made and continue to make to this community.

They plan what is one of the oldest and largest one-day sporting events in Nevada County knowing only the satisfaction they will get (a six-hour period on one Sunday a year) will always be largely outweighed by their commitment (the other 8,754 hours in a year) to the Classic.

Still, what a six hours.

“You know this is the probably largest crowd we’ve had in 15 years,” Duane said.

Connie says that though it may not always appear so, as Broad Street had – egad!– just one row deep of fans downtown at one point, the crowd was a large one. The fans just don’t sit at the bottom of hill waiting for a crash anymore, she said.

Nowadays, the Classic’s cycling fans are much more savvy, choosing to check out the action from the top to the bottom, as well.

“They want to see the teamwork,” Connie said. “And the pain on their faces.”

Maybe Connie just wants to see someone appreciating what her family does for the community. In essence, the Strawsers keep the Classic alive – not to mention the local economy on Father’s Day as fans flock to town each year.

Or maybe, it’s the satisfaction she sees on the faces of those cyclists crossing the finish line, those counting their cash winnings or even the ones who congratulate her for “putting this whole thing together” is thanks enough for keeping a community tradition alive and well.

Just give her a few days to answer, though.

That nagging question:

“Will she be back next year?”

“You know,” she laughed. “It’s like childbirth. You’re just asking me too soon.”

Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. He may be reached via e-mail at brianh@theunion.com or by phone at 477-4240.


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