[Photo courtesy of Kent Williams]

On Labor Day, San Francisco's longest running bicycle race, the Metromint Giro di San Francisco, delivered fast, fun, and furious action. The 36th Giro -- impeccably organized with perfect weather -- yielded greater attendance, more prizes, as well as two Metromint Cycling placings in the top 5.

Although not measured, Metromint racers estimate that attendance this year was better than that of previous years.

The number of primes (pronounced preems) at the Giro was staggering. Primes are product or cash prizes which are offered by race sponsors to the winner of an intermediate sprint in an event. A race official loudly rings a cow bell as the racers come around the start/finish line. This bell signals to the racers that the first rider across the start/finish line on the next lap will win a prime. The announcer yells out what the prize is so that riders will be further motivated. With races having more primes, the pace of the race is more aggressive and more interesting for the riders and spectators alike. With a record number of primes in this year?s Giro, the races were fast.

?Something like 17 primes were given over the 24 laps of the [men?s category 3] race,? commented Metromint Cycling's Kalani Hines, who finished the race with the main pack of riders. ?Awesome, thanks to our sponsors!!! ... This made sure the race was one of the fastest and hardest I have done this season. We lost 1/3 of the field from attrition."

Results, Results, Results

In the Women's category 3 race, Dolce Vita Cycling put three riders into the top four spots, including Michelle Melka who took the top honors. Metromint Cycling's Nicole Slaton, in her first-ever category 3 race placed 11th!

In the Women's category 4 race, Cybil Silberman took 1st place. Ashley Drum, who recently joined Metromint Cycling, took 3rd place on the podium!

In the premier women?s event, the Women's category 1/2/3 race, Tara McCormick of Team Tibco placed 1st, while Kimberly White placed 2nd overall, and first for cat 2 riders, extending Dolce Vita Cycling's successful performances for the day. Jane Robertson, a previous Giro winner and Metromint Cycling teammate, finished in 5th place. ?[Metromint Cycling] teammate Lina, who upgraded from category 4 this season and was racing in the stacked W1/2/3 field, was dangling toward the back for most of the race,? says Molly Van Houweling.??So it was a great surprise when she came to the front late in the race to chase down the most threatening break of the day. I wanted to move up to help her, but she was going so fast that it was all I could do to hang on at the back!?

In the Men's category 4/5 race, Andrew Alonis of Peninsula Velo/Pomodoro topped the podium in 1st place.

Top honors in the Men?s category 3 race went to Mike Carr and Matthew Connolly, both from Rio Strada Racing, who placed 1st and 2nd in the race.

Larry Nolan, Team Specialized Racing Masters, who has been a long time mentor in the cycling community, placed 1st in the Masters' age 35+, combined categories 1/2/3 race. Matthew Connolly, Rio Strada Racing -- having quite a day after his great result in the cat 3 race -- placed 4th overall in the race and was the highest placed cat 3 rider. Jan Weissenberger, SAFEWAY/Bicycles Plus/PureRed, placing 5th overall, was the highest placed cat 2 rider.

In the Masters' age 45+, cat 1/2/3 race, Gregg Betonte (cat 2) and Michael O'Rourke (cat 2) took 1st and 2nd, both riding for the SAFEWAY/Bicycles Plus/PureRed team. Chris Black on Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney came in 6th place as the first cat 1 rider, and Gregory Pike of VOS Racing came in 11th places as the first cat 3 rider.

The Masters' 35+ cat 4 race gives a chance for the many of the part-time, career job racers to compete against their kind. Dan Boyle of Team Nor Cal took the top honors.

The featured men?s event is the Men's category Pro/1/2 race which incorporates professional racers into the mix. Philip Mooney, formerly on Metromint Cycling and now riding for elite Yahoo! Cycling Team, made a move that split the front group of 8 riders off into a break which eventually lapped the main field. This year Sergio Hernandez riding for Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team team soloed off the front ahead of Eric Wohlberg of the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. Philip Mooney came in 3rd place overall and as the first cat 1 rider. Taylor Bertrand-Barrett of Team Nor Cal Bike Sport placed 11th overall as the first cat 2 rider. A shout out to former-Metromint Cyclist-turned-pro Jared Barrilleaux, now with California Giant Cycling, who placed 6th overall.

Another interestng result was that Spider Dan climbed the Millenium Tower during the Giro. Some have speculated that he may have wanted a better view of the entire race course!

Lots of volunteers and generous sponsors

The Giro impressed everyone with how many teammates and kind volunteers helped throughout the whole day to monitor each corner to keep the race safe. They also did a great job cheering Metromint racers along.

?The great thing about racing at our own race is that all of the corner marshals are Metromint supporters,? says Van Houweling.??I was off the front for a while and have never heard so many people shouting my name!?

The team wishes to thank the many volunteers, Metromint, and all of the sponsors for another fantastic event. This year's event was sponsored by Metromint, the Freewheel, Velo Promo, Flex-Power, Sports Basement, Bear Naked, De La Paz, Golden Chain Cyclists, Lombardi Sports, Rock Tape, Giant, Pactimo, and Breakaway Performance. Thanks to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for the bike valet!

See you all next year at the 37th annual Metromint Giro di San Francisco!