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Oliver, Bruce

Bruce Oliver

Palmares

Selected Palmares (as of Feb. 12, 2012)

  • 2012
    • 18th  National Cyclocross National Championship WI 60+
      * Vuelta de Puerto Rico
  • 2011
    1st Barbour DeTour, Phillipi WV 60+
    2nd Bunny Hop Criterium MD 55+
    3rd Ed Sander Memorial Cycloross MD 55+
    3rd Geler Votre Cul Cyclocross DE 60+
    21st Hilly Billy Roubaix WV/PA 40+
    * Vuelta de Puerto Rico
  • 2004
    2nd Bike Jam Kelly Cup MD 50+
  • 2003
    1st Tysons Corner Circuit Race VA 50+
    1st  Solarex Points Race MD 50+
    1st  Bethesda Grand Prix MD 50+
    2nd Tuckahoe Road Race MD 50+
    2nd Race for Pulaski, Criterium MD 50+
    2nd Race for Pulaski, Road Race MD 50+
    3rd MABRA BAR Series 50+
  • 2002
    1st  Poolesville Road Race MD 2002 50+
  • 2001
    1st Children’s Museum Criterium, DC 50+
    1st D20 Criterium Championship MD 50+
  • 1996
    1st Extreme Criterium MD 40+
    1st Virginia State Omnium Championship 45+1st Road Race Championship 1st Criterium Championship 2nd Time Trial Championship 
    1st Circuito de Zona MD 40+
    1st Tysons Corner Circuit Race VA 40+
    2nd Tour of Crofton MD 40+
    2nd Annapolis Criterium MD 40+
    2nd Columbia Circuit Race MD 40+
    6th National Championship Road Race CA 40+
    72nd General Classification, Vuelta de la Independencia DOM UCI 2.6
  • 1995
    1st  Columbia Circuit Race MD 40+
    1st Stage 3 Criterium, Coupe des Amériques QU 40+
    2nd Poolesville Road Race MD 40+
  • 1994
    1st Tour of Somerville NJ 40+
    1st Clasico Capital MD 40+
    1st General Classification, Mitad del Mundo EQU 40+ Stage 3
     2nd Stage 1 Circuit Race
     4th Stage 2 Time Trial
     1st Stage 3 Points Race
    2nd Time Trial Stage, Swartz Memorial Stage Race VA 30+
    3rd NCVC Spring Classic Criterium MD 40+
  • 1993
    1st Edgewater Arsenal MD 40+
    1st Hagerstown Challenge Criterium MD 40+
    1st Virginia State Road Race Championship 40+
    1st Overall, Charles County Stage Race MD 30+ 1st Prologue 4th  Road Race 1st Criterium
    2nd Eastern Sectional Road Race Championship MD 40+
    2nd Maryland-Delaware District Road Race Championship VA 35+
    2nd Capital Classic Circuit Race VA 40+
    3rd Capital Classic Criterium VA 40+
    2nd Turkey Day Race MD 40+
  • 1992
    1st Virginia-DC District Championship Road Race VA 35+
    1st Spring Thaw Criterium DE 30+
    1st Montgomery County Criterium Championship MD 30+
    2nd Virginia-DC District Criterium Championship VA 40+
    2nd Virginia Commonwealth Games Road Race 40+
    3rd Tour de Richmond VA 40+
    3rd Eastern Sectional Criterium Championship VA 40+
    3rd Masters Weekend Road Race VA 40+
    6th General Classification, Coupe des Amériques, QUE 40+
     5th Prologue Hill Climb
     11th Stage 1 Time Trial
     5th  Stage 2 Road Race
     3rd Stage 3 Road Race
    7th Stage 7, Vuelta de la Independencia DOM UCI 2.6
    52nd General Classification, Vuelta de la Independencia DOM UCI 2.6
  • 1991
    1st 300 meter Sprintlauf Qualifier AUS 35+
    2nd 300 Meter Sprintlauf Final AUS 35+
    2nd Virginia-DC District Road Race Championship VA 35+
    3rd Virginia-DC District Road Race Championship VA 30+
    7th General Classification, Ed Peters Memorial Stage Race VA 35+
     3rd Stage 3 Circuit Race
    56th General Classification, Vuelta de la Independencia DOM UCI 2.6
  • 1990
    1st 300 Meter Sprintlauf Qualifier AUS 35+
    2nd 300 Meter Sprintlauf Final AUS 35+
    3rd Newport News Masters Weekend VA 35+
    3rd Charles City Road Race VA 35+ 
    1st Madison Circuit Race WI 30+
  • 1985
    6th  National Championship Road Race NC 30+
  • 1984
    1st Ashburn Training Race VA Cat B
  • 1983
    1st Madison Circuit Race WI 30+
    1st Paoli Road Race WI 30+
  • 1982
    1st St. Paul Training Race MN Cat B
  • 1980
    1st Grant Park Circuit Race WI Sr. 3
    1st Cedarburg Circuit Race WI Sr. 3
    2nd South Lakes Criterium WI Sr. 3
    5th Overall, Lowenbrau-Pepsi Stage Race/Wisconsin Milk Race Sr. 3
  • 1976 
    1st Hoyt Park WI Sr. 3-4
    1st UW Green Bay Circuit Race WI Sr. 3-4
    1st  Rockville Criterium IL Sr. 3-4
    5th  Wisconsin State Time Trial Championship Sr. 1-4
    9th Time Trial Stage, Super Week WI Sr. 1-2
  • 1975
    1st  Otto Grunski Qualifier WI 18+ open
    1st  Otto Grunski Final WI 18+ open
    2nd Kettner-Kirchner Road Race WI Sr. 3-4
    2nd UW Green Bay Circuit Race WI 18+ open
    3rd Wolf River 100 WI 18+ open
  • 1973
    1st Otto Grunski qualifier WI 18+ open
    2nd  Otto Grunski Final WI 18+ open

(selected, and very incomplete)

Biography

Bruce’s first bicycle race was the inaugural Otto Grunski Classic in Menasha, Wisconsin (now part of Milwaukee’s SuperWeek), in 1973. Dressed in gym shorts, a sweater, tie-on bib-style numbers, and Mexican huarache sandals, Bruce won, breaking away at the start and lapping the field in what was one of two qualifying heats (the format was based on stock-car racing). In the final event the next day, Bruce and another rider broke away at the start and lapped the field. Bruce started his sprint several hundred meters too early, faded badly, and finished in second (passed by the other rider, who was on a Schwinn Continental, who was wearing black Converse sneakers).

Bruce crashed a week before the 1974 Ott Grunski, injuring his ankle, and so could not race, but his younger brother Andy raced, winning both his heat and the final.

In 1975, Bruce competed in a race at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and started his sprint against his breakaway companion a few hundred meters too early, finished second. Bruce entered the Otto Grunski in 1975 (but his brother Andy was unable to race), this time timing his sprints correctly, winning both his heat and the final. Later in 1975, Bruce competed in his first USCF-sanctioned race, a hilly road race in rural Wisconsin (which he also co-founded and co-promoted), breaking away with one other rider, but he got dropped on the lap to finish second in the Category III-IV field.

Within the first six weeks of the 1976 season, Bruce won Category III-IV races in Milwaukee (field sprint) and Green Bay (solo breakaway), and in Rockford, Illinois (field sprint); and completed his first 25-mile time trial in a time only slightly slower than three National Team members (he couldn’t get his chain from the 14- to the 13-tooth cog on the tailwind section). Those results earned Bruce a mandatory field promotion from Category IV (the entry-level category at the time) to Category II. In his first Category II-III race, he finished tenth.

Bruce’s first chance to race in Category I-II fields came a few weeks later at Milwaukee SuperWeek, then the biggest racing series in the country. Bruce got himself into breakaways with guys from the magazines and even finished ninth in the 26-mile individual time trial (just behind former NCVC rider and US Professional Champion Thomas Prehn). He also succeeded in burning himself to a crisp – he was in over his head and did not yet believe in rest days.

For the next few years, Bruce raced around the Midwest, including annual pilgrimages to Milwaukee’s Super Week. He got into the money from time to time, but he was unable to repeat his early successes. Eventually he asked to be downgraded to Category III, a category he had skipped on the way up.

While Bruce’s racing results diminished during that period, Bruce other impact on the racing scene during that time, serving as Vice President of the Fox Valley Wheelmen bicycle club, and founding, promoting and designing T-shirts for the Wisconsin Milk Race stage race. The Milk Race started off ambitiously enough with three stages in three cities over two days. Within a few years, it soon grew to the point where it needed full-time, year-round attention, so Bruce persuaded a non-profit group supporting developmentally disabled adults to take over the promotion. Under that group’s full-time efforts, the event grew to a nine-city, nine-day event sponsored by Lowenbrau and Pepsi. It drew such notables of the day as Greg Lemond (still a Junior, crushing the Category I-II fields), Davis Phinney, Connie Carpenter, Andy Hampsten, Ron Keiffel, Greg Demgen, Eric and Beth Heiden, Tom Schuler, Andrzej Bek, and Bob Mionske. The event even attracted the Norwegian National Team, which was looking for a substitute for the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics. The venues ultimately were merged into Milwaukee SuperWeek , which then grew from one to two weeks of racing.

At about that same time, Bruce also served as the Midwest Correspondent and occasional cartoonist for the now-defunct Competitive Cycling magazine. Bruce covered the snowy 1977 cyclo-cross national championships in Milwaukee, interviewing competitor Gary Fisher, then in his mid-twenties, who was in the process of inventing the sport that would become known as mountain biking. Interestingly, there was a controversy at that event because a Junior rider wanted to ride a BMX bike in the cyclocross race; the officials couldn’t find a rule clearly banning twenty-inch wheels, so they just deflated the kid’s tires so he couldn’t start.

In 1980, the season before he started law school, Bruce again found his winning ways, winning several other Category III races, finishing fifth overall in the Category III division of the Lowenbrau-Pepsi stage race (the second highest finish by an American), and winning a field sprint in a Category I-II race at Super Week, going head-to-head with the rider who was then the National Prestige Champion.

After a lighter racing schedule working around law school, but still including at least three victories that he can recall, Bruce came to Washington. His first race in the region was a training race in Ashburn where, because he was an unknown quantity locally, he was not allowed to race in the A race. To make a point, he won the B race. Not long after, he showed his good judgment by joining NCVC.

Racing with NCVC in the Mid-Atlantic’s very competitive Category 3 and Masters racing scene, Bruce began to really explore and understand his gift for sprinting. For example, Bruce noticed at the finish of a Category 3 road race in Howard County, Maryland that everyone at the front of the field seemed to be sprinting as fast they could, when he had not really started his sprint yet. He then did a real sprint, and effectively won in a solo breakaway over the last 200 meters or so. Another revealing experience was the finish of an early spring race in Charles City County, Virginia in 1990. Racing in the Masters category, Bruce had fallen off the back several times, was starting to cramp, and was hanging onto the field over the last wet, cold lap only because his teammate, Reeves Taylor, kept yelling at him not to drop. Despite seeming to be almost unable turn over his pedals, Bruce stood up and crushed the rest of the field with a strong finishing kick, easily winning the long, windy field sprint for third place (Rob Lea and Bill Ford had escaped with a few kilometers to go).

Combining his new realization of his sprinting talent with specific training and more experience, Bruce grew to fear no one in the sprint, and validated that confidence by winning head-to-head sprinting duels with local legends Jim Montgomery and Bobby Phillips, and winning more than 50 percent of his field sprints one season.

Off the bike, Bruce served as Vice President of NCVC for many years, helping it to restructure itself in a way that reduced key-person dependency (thanks to Mike Butler for being that key man when Bruce arrived). Bruce also stepped up to promote the 1986 National Capital Open after the person who had committed to promote it withdrew at the last moment. The race went smoothly, thanks to the tremendous work of the greatest number of NCVC volunteers every assembled (everyone on the club received a call asking them to volunteer). To relieve the promoting burden the next year, Bruce helped negotiate for the Bicycle Federation to promote the event and, the next year, helped negotiate the sale of the event to ProServ, the professional sports promotion firm, which provided the club with more financial strength and stability than it had had before.

On a regional level, Bruce served as Vice President of the District 20 (then DC and VA) Cycling Association, where he helped the Association incorporate and create a structure that reduced its dependencies on any key individuals. Bruce also attended a USCF annual meeting, successfully pushing through an amendment to bring Washington, DC and Northern Virginia into District 20. Bruce later became President of the D20 Cycling Association (then MABRA) where he again created a structure less dependent on a few key individuals, as usual, and presided over the creation of the Best All-around Rider (BAR) competition and the actual development of annual budgets.

Back on the bike, Bruce decided to expand his cycling horizons beyond the shores of the U.S. He participated in an Austrian race series and Masters World Cup competitions two times. Both times he had the fastest qualifying time of all racers in the 300 meter standing start event, but both times he also had poor starts down the starting ramps and finished second in the finals.
Bruce also did an informal spring training camp in Ecuador with some other Masters riders from the region, George Delgado and Barry Free. At the close of the camp, Bruce finished second on GC in a two-day, three-day stage race, La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world, i.e., the Equator), winning the points race stage – and every sprint but still finishing behind a rider with such a heralded past that he needed only one name, Marcelino.

Upping the ante considerably, Bruce decided that he wanted to compete in the Vuelta de la Independencia, a week-long international stage race for four-man teams, in the Dominican Republic at the end of February. Seven or eight days of 100-miles stages, a few mountain top finishes, bad roads, bad food, and bad accommodations. Bruce did the Vuelta three times, in 1991, 1992, and 1996. No one he recruited to join him on a Vuelta team ever came back for a second dose (but Freddy Rodriguez did repeat to support two Vueltas as team mechanic). Every day of each Vuelta was the hardest day he had ever spent on a bike, and every season after doing each Vuelta was be one of the strongest seasons he had every had on a bike. After completing a few Vueltas, Masters racing in the US did not seem that hard.

Victories during that post-Vuelta period included Masters events at the Poolesville Road Race; the Bethesda Grand Prix Criterium; the Montgomery County Criterium; the Solarex Points Race; the Edgewater Arsenal Circuit Race; the Carl Dolan Circuit Race; the Leading Edge Circuit Race; the Tysons Corner Circuit Race(twice); two Hagerstown Critieriums; DC-VA District road race, criterium, and omnium championships; the Children’s Museum Criterium; the overall GC at the Charles County Stage Race (plus two individual stage wins); and the Tour of Somerville (NJ).

In 1996, one of the Vuelta years, Bruce was at the Masters National Championships in Santa Rosa, California, where he played the consummate teammate throughout the road race, slicing and dicing at the head of the field, giving his teammate, John Epting, the support he needed to pull off win a National Championship. The plan was to do the criterium championship two days, later, with John ready to provide teamwork payback. However, Bruce received a call from his wife, Shannon, that night, telling him that the adoption agency had identified a little girl in Bulgaria, and that they would not let us see picture or the dossier unless both of them were there to see them. Bruce skipped the criterium and took the red-eye back to Washington, so that he and Shannon could see the picture of the little girl who would become their daughter, Cameron.

At the end of what had been a successful 1996 season, Bruce looked around and saw NCVC riders who were putting in the time and effort, but not getting commensurate results, so he decided to see what he could do to change that. In November of that year, Bruce started what became known as the Cabroose Rides (rides with Bruce that started on the W&OD trail at the Caboose in Vienna). The idea was to teach riders of all ability levels the key skills of racing, and to do so in the context of how they would end up using those skills. Bruce invented exercises to develop an efficient pedal stroke, to navigate a pace line, to carve a beautiful line cornering in traffic, and to give and receive lead-outs, and he spun continuous war stories to provide vivid context for when and how the riders would be using those new skills.

While Bruce no longer leads those rides, his former students have carry it forward, and they continue to provide a foundation of the basics for new and experienced racers. Perhaps more importantly, the rides provide a safe, nurturing place for new members to go to get started with racing and with NCVC. As a result, NCVC has continued to attract and retain new organizational talent to keep the club moving and growing, as well as strong racers.

In 2003, Bruce led the 50+ MABRA BAR competition from March all the way through September, when severe cramps on the final climb of the MABRA Road Race Championship race in Brandywine, Delaware course resulted in a 16th place finish, dropping him to third in the standings, where he finished the season. The next year, Bruce got a late start to his season and so didn’t feature in the BAR standings and, mid-way through the Solarex Points Race in Hagerstown, he decided that he needed a break from racing after about 30 years.

Bruce raced only occasionally after that, including dabbling in cyclo-cross. However, in early 2011, recently completed a non-racing Vuelta de Puerto Rico, consisting of 375 miles of bad tropical roads over three days, which helped Bruce find his way back to the peloton. The 2011 season included a first and a second place finish on the road. It also was Bruce’s first full season of cyclocross, progressing from dead last in his first two races of the season to some podium finishes as he worked to master essentially a new sport.

Somerville 1994 Master 40+

Last modified at 5/31/2012 9:20 PM  by Bill Luecke 

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