Brian Hamilton: Classic is a sports jewel to be treasured |

Brian Hamilton: Classic is a sports jewel to be treasured

For the six of the past eight years, I’ve had the pleasure of spending Father’s Day in downtown Nevada City – as both a reporter and a parent.

It’s become an annual tradition for our two girls to ride in the Children’s Race … ahem, “Parade” … before another Classic afternoon of bicycle racing begins.

It’s become the perfect Father’s Day for me in both of my passions: Loving my family and loving my sports.

Sports, as you know, has taken some pretty hard hits over the past few years. Our baseball players are juiced. Our NFL players are arrested at an alarming rate – particularly those of the Cincinnati Bengal variety. And now, the NBA’s fixed.

Which brings us to cycling.

Is there a sport with a longer list of high profile athletes who have been discovered to be doping? We’ll see, as the list grows fast for Track & Field, and as baseball has been testing for a few years now.

Yet no matter how long the list might be or how badly the headlines may read, at least cycling got tough with those who were deemed doping and dealt with them directly.

Don’t think so? Just ask Tyler Hamilton … or Floyd Landis.

After all these years of watching the Classic, I’ve really learned to enjoy this sport. It’s a raw, gutsy game that makes your calves and keister cringe by just watching. It’s all on direct display as the riders climb 120 feet over each 1.1-mile lap back to Broad and Pine streets – for the next 90 minutes in the sweltering sun.

And even better – because they’re either extremely media savvy or just really cool people – you get to hear their stories, learn who they are … and sometimes why they’re racing.

This year we learned about Scott Nydam and Scott Fonseca, who were each riding in their honor of their own fathers, each battling cancer. Nydam fought to a tough second-place finish in the Men’s Pro 1/2, and Fonseca, a 1987 Nevada Union grad, finished fourth in a top-notch Masters race.

In our pre-race coverage, these guys not only spoke to our readers about their sport but also their lives. Nydam has been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, with his dad back in Michigan fighting on and with him being crowned “King of the Mountains” at the Tour of California – and now a Nevada City runner-up, after one of the better races I’ve had the joy of seeing.

Fonseca, who quit his job as an executive to take care of his father and focus on winning this year’s Masters Classic event, likely the last his dad will be able to see him race, as a gift.

Though he might have fallen short of that goal Sunday, could a dad really be more proud? Could anyone?

The Nevada City Classic has given this community Father’s Days to remember for 48 years now. (And its current first family, Duane and Connie Strawser, have put in days that sometimes feel like years in getting this party off the ground each June).

But with the golden anniversary of an absolute gold country treasure on the horizon, it’s my hope that Nevada City – and our entire western Nevada County community – will keep on celebrating this race for the next 50 years for the great sporting event it has become.

And for the day they create each summer, and not for just us dads.

That, too, was on direct display Sunday … over at the bouncy house, where our two girls – and four or five newfound friends – were literally bouncing off the walls following their race … excuse me, “Parade,” … and some cookies and juice.

The only thing that could make this day better is for my own dad to be here for the 49th, or perhaps 50th, Tour of Nevada City.

Now that, too, would be a Classic.

Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. His column usually appears Saturdays. Contact him via e-mail at or by phone at 477-4240.

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