I'd long heard that a trip to Bennington to race the Wicked Creepy CX event would be worth my while. Legend had it the course was a technical one which would offer an opportunity for me to bolster my crossresults standing. With rain in the forecast threatening to make a technical course even more challenging, I started out on the trek up into the Green Mountain State.
Meeting me there was my old man Keith Honda and his fellow Master's race teammate Rich Allen. I was up first in the Men's Cat. 3/4 though. I just missed out on a call-up to the front line, but started 2nd row behind one of the pre-race favorite's from the NYCROSS team. A typically slow start ensued, and moving up through the field proved difficult with the maze of twists and turns characteristic of the course. Eventually settling into about 10th position, there was little ground to be made up despite my once a lap powering up the finish climb.
I couldn't decide whether to be devastated or encouraged by the lap cards indicating a 6-lap race (5 was another possibility), but I did my best to use that last circuit to catch the 9th place guy on the descent and 1st of 2 run-ups. Turned out my competitor was more or less waiting up for me though, and he immediately sat on my wheel. Clambering up the final brutal run-up, I thought I may have had a shot, but the dirt would not clear from my cleats and I was left slamming the soles of my shoes on the pedals as 9th place sprinted away from me to the line. All-in-all, 10th out of 22 was not a terrible day.
Next up were Expo's veteran racers in the standard NYCROSS series combined Master's race (35+, 45+, 55+). The first turn bottle-neck resulted in a minor pile-up, which Rich and Keith both managed to stay out of. The downside of the Master's race for the spectator is that it is pretty tough to tell how any given rider is doing in their respective race. Rich was riding strong though, with Keith looking to pick his way back up through the pack. The course design did allow the spectator to dart around and heckle the racers from a good 5 or 6 spots per lap. I did my best to use this to full affect and cheer on the Expo duo. At the finish, Rich brought it home for a very solid 6th, with Keith nailing down 14th spot.
While it wasn't quite the "mtb race masquerading as a cross race" that I was hoping for, it was great to be out racing in some awesome New England scenery.