Saratoga Spa CX M55+ Race Report
by Keith Honda
Fire, mud, and geysers! Spa CX is a unique cyclocross experience. With picnic areas, large pavilions, and naturally carbonated, geyser-like mineral springs, Saratoga Spa State Park is a great location for a cx event. This year's race organizers packed in as much fun as possible in the terrain around one pavilion.
Spa CX is part of the NYCROSS race series. Having zero NYCROSS series points meant I was lining up on the last row of the combined Masters 45+/55+ field. We started cleanly and funneled into the first set of tight turns and slow traffic. A potential prize bottle of craft brew from Shmalz Brewing Company was now sadly out of reach. The course snaked around the upper lawn, over some barriers, out into a field of off-camber chicanes, and down some banks with thick mud ruts. A few riders fell or veered off-course here. When we continued up a hill with a set of ride-able wooden steps, the traffic thinned out. A couple of short sand sections and a trail through the woods completed the first lap. The next laps flew by.
With 2 laps to go, I could see 3 riders about 10 seconds ahead, and it seemed like I was gaining on them. I made a surge, but it was quickly cut short by a moment of inattention on the muddy downhill. Sticking my front wheel in a deep-dish mud pie, I launched into a slow-motion, over-the-bars dismount that got a big reaction from the spectators. I untangled my bike from the course tape and kept going, eventually finishing 8th of the 21 finishers in the M55+ results.
The crisp autumn weather was perfect for cyclocross, but a bit cool for standing around. Over at the pavilion, the large fireplace was throwing off some serious heat. I sampled an espresso from the 1K2GO Coffee Roasters stand, while I waited for my son Jim's Cat3 race to begin. He would also have to start on the back row, of 48 starters, but did a great job working his way up to a 6th place finish. I ran around in a caffeinated frenzy, cheering Jim on and probably taking too many photos (sorry EXPO facebook group). We swapped stories after his race, hung out by the fire, and watched some of the later races. We made sure to stop at a few springs on the way out of the park, trying some of the "healing waters" that Saratoga is famous for.