About The Expo Wheelmen
The Expo Wheelmen cycling club is made up of many enthusiastic cyclists who ride, race, raise money, organize events, and ecourage each other to stay fit and have fun! We call Manchester Cycle Shop in Manchester CT our home and you can find us flying our red and black colors on roads all over Connecticut and at events all over the Northeast.
Click here to see our current roster
EXPO meets for a famous "shop ride" at Manchester Cycle on May 27th, 2015 to bid farewell to our "minister of good vibration" David "Heavy D" Wells. From L to R: Scott Kearney, Esteban Sequera, Nick Willette, Robert Carmen (ERRACE), Mark Cunningham, Bob Kiernan, Jeffrey Buske, Joe Candeias, Mark Shea, Kurt Percy, Matt Farrell, David Hildebrand, Todd Bowden, Keith Gauvin, David Wells, Jon Tarbox, Ben Carbonetti, Matt Leon, Aaron Brown (Storrs Center), Rich Allen, Aki Sato, Paul Nyberg (Horst), Joe Tindal, Keith Honda, and Humberto Raposo.
The Exposition Wheelmen cycling club has existed in one form or another since the 1960s. It began as a cycle club in the Enfield CT/Springfield MA area. Given our roots, it is not surprising that the inspiration for our club name comes from the famous Eastern States Exposition (also known as "the big E") held in West Springfield each year. In 1979 the club moved its home base from Springfield MA to Manchester CT when they approached Manchester Cycle Shop about becoming their sponsor shop.
Like the Exposition Wheelmen, Manchester Cycle Shop has a long history. It has been owned and operated by the Kiernan family in the same location since the 1950s. In addition to being a bike shop, for a time it was also a bicycle manufacturing and wheel building facility for the vaunted Columbia Bicycles brand. The shop has existed through all the massive changes in the bicycle industry including the rise of aluminum, then carbon fiber, and even the arrival of Shimano components. Today Manchester Cycle Shop is a hangout for all types of cyclists, from hardcore racers to casual weekend warriors, and the current owner, Robert Kiernan, is well known in the area for his lifetime of experience building, repairing, and selling bikes.
Riders gathering for a Tuesday Night group ride at Manchester Cycle Shop in 2009.
Clearly, the relationship between the Exposition Wheelmen and Manchester Cycle was a match made in heaven since it continues to this day. During the 34 years of that partnership Expo has gone through many changes and transitions. At times the club shrunk to just a few riders who met once or twice a week to ride together, and at other times it had elite race teams, and in one year Expo had five amateur national champions in different categories.
During the first decade of the MCS-Expo partnership, the club grew considerably. In 1979 Steve Tagar and Dave Hulme approached Bob at MCS about a potential partnership. Bob accepted and the Expo we know was born. They began putting on the Manchester Criterium during the summer and a Tuesday night training series on Progress Drive, an industrial park with a rolling loop tailor-made for crits (pictured right). This course proved popular, and Expo riders dominated their home race. Their trademark red and yellow could be seen at the front year after year in category after category.
The 80s were also a period when Expo became a home for many young juniors who were mentored until they could enter the pro ranks. Mike Hutchinson (pictured lower right) went on to gain his Cat 1 license and race professionally for numerous teams all over North America, including most recently Team Spine. He now races for the elite master's team sponsored by Morgan Stanely in Californa. In addition, riders like Beau Borrero (pictured center right) and Kevin Molloy went on to achieve great things in cycling due in large part to the experience they gained riding with Expo.
However, Expo was never just a home for elite racers. Like today, many of the club's members raced in the lower amateur categories with great success. We had numerous Category 3/4 and Master's riders during the 1980s they represented Expo proudly in many local races. Tom Phillips won several Master's championships and competed multiple times at Nationals. The red and yellow of Expo was ubiquitous around the New England race calendar well into the 1990s.
Expo riders (L to R) Fred Gobillot, Steve Pascuzzo, and Todd Mozzer at the New London Crit in 1988.
Beau Borrero rides his pink steel Trek 950 Pro Series in 1986.
The Expo Wheelmen in 1986 under the finish line for the Manchester Crit.
Expo Riders take charge at the Manchester Crit in 1986.
Michael Hutchinson at the Manchester Crit in 1986.
Relationship with Trek Bicycles
During this period Expo also began its long standing relationship with Trek Bicycles. "Trek" was featured prominently on the front of Expo jerseys (see black and white photo left) and riders rode the upstart American manufacturer's bikes to many victories on the amatuer circuits. Expo rider Beau Borrero
(pictured to the left), unafraid to rock the pink bike rode his Trek to Junior National Championships in both the Time Trial and the Road Race in 1988.
From the beginning of the club's relationship with Manchester Cycle Shop Expo riders have always preferred Trek bikes, and it is yet another relationship that continues to this day. From Trek's early days of building steel race bikes to the carbon fiber Madone, Domane, and Boone of today, Trek bikes are everywhere in the Expo peloton. Whether on road rides, time trialing, mountain rides, or cyclocross, you can almost always find Expo riders on Trek bikes.
The early 90s represented a turning point for the Expo Wheelmen. The creation of the Capital Velo Club (CVC) first in Glastonbury and then in Vernon led to an exodus of some of Expo's top racing talent. In addition the mountain biking craze began to eat away at road racing's popularity which further eroded the core riders who had been a part of Expo, which was traditionally a road racing club. Through the 90s CVC remained the primary racing club in the area, and Expo turned into a more recreational club made up of Bob Kiernan and several of his close friends.
In 2001 the club began to gain some steam again. Brian Clark, Jeffrey Murray, Massimiliano Marco Accaputo, and several other riders began to bring Expo back to the races. But Expo remained a small collection of riders. In the mid 2000s Kurt Percy, Jeffrey Rubacha, Matt Snell, Brian Clark, and Mark Sondeen, and Joe Tindal made up the primary group of riders who rode from the shop. Riders continued to come and go from CVC and other clubs, but Expo remained a mostly casual riding group.
Jeffrey Murray (picture 2nd from left) racing in the 2002 Ashford Road Race in Ashford CT.
In 2009 the club emerged from its fallow period. CVC began to experience some question about its direction and riders started to leave. In addition, a local shop which competed with MCS closed, and there was a demand for a new inclusive club that could serve the varied interests of the large number of riders in the area. David Hildebrand approached Bob Kiernan about returning Expo to its past glory and they agreed that Expo was the perfect foundation to build on. After all, Bob remembered Expo's racing pedigree well and thought it would be nice to return the club to its roots. Ultimately this led to the revival of the Expo Wheelmen as a larger group with a solid core of racers.
Almost immediately the club grew to first 50 then 60 riders. After Expo's rebirth, David Hildebrand served as the first club president from 2009-2011 and was instrumental to building the club back into a local powerhouse. He then handed the reins over to Jon Tarbox who led until late 2013 and oversaw the growth of the Silk City CX and the Expo Time Trial Series. Both David and Jon are still very involved in the continuing evolution of the club.
Since 2009 the club has grown to nearly 80 dedicated riders, and there are group rides leaving Manchester Cycle almost every day. While the club colors have changed slightly, from red and yellow to red and black, the Expo Wheelmen philosophy stays the same--get out and ride, have fun, and occasionally kick some butt. The club puts on multiple events each year, notably the Silk City Cyclocross race in Manchester CT, a TT series near Manchester during the summer, and more recently a Spring Series sponsored by Aetna comprising 4 events in March and April in both New Britian and Bethel CT.
In keeping with its elite racing heritage the Expo Wheelmen also have an affiliated racing team, the Aetna-Expo Wheelmen, which is made up of a group of club members with USAC category 2 licenses who are focused primarily on racing. Managed by former club president David Hildebrand, the team is made up of high level amatuer cyclists and former pros. Notably Todd Bowden, a Canadian citizen transplanted to CT, who is a former pro mountain biker, Olympic alternate for Canada in mountain biking, and the 2012 Canadian Master's National Cyclocross Champion.
Expo riders in 2012 wearing a timeline of modern expo kits. (L to R) Brian Clarke, Jeffrey Buske, Jeffrey Rubacha, Kurt Percy, and Matt Leon in Manchester Cycle Shop.
The Expo Wheelmen enjoy the view from Castle Craig in CT.
The Aetna-Expo Racing Team at the Mystic Velo Crit in 2014 (L to R) Ed Angeli, Todd Bowden, and David Hildebrand.
The Expo Wheelmen, Aetna-Expo Wheelmen, and friends celebrate the Camp Challenge Ride in September 2014!
Additionally in 2014 we partnered with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to serve as official ride ambassadors on during their charity cycling events the Annual Angel and Camp Challenge Rides. HITWGC is a wonderful cause famously started by Paul Newman based in Ashford CT, that allows children with life-threatening illnesses to go to camp and have the time of their lives. Expo is extremely proud to be affiliated with this wonderful organization.
In the end, the Exposition Wheelmen are a club that measures its lifespan not in years but in decades, and through its ups and downs has remained a stalwart of the Southern New England cycling community. The club has many exciting ongoing projects such as its partnership with the Hole in the Wall Gang on their charity rides, to growing our cyclocross race into a fixture on the famous New England cyclocross calendar. Undoubtedly it is a good time to be wearing the red and black. Go Expo!
Expo's legacy comes full circle as evidenced by these two pictures of Tom Phillips, Expo's longest running member. The picture on the left is of Tom racing in 1986 for Expo. Pictured on the right is Tom on a group ride in 2014 with Mark Shea, a current Expo racer.