So it turns out it WAS an hour race. After 30 minutes of racing on a hilly course, four laps to go is not what you want to see. I asked the officials as I crossed the finish, three laps in, if this was an hour race, no was the reply in a somewhat annoyed tone. I was already hurting at 30 minutes and had done the math such that I was pretty sure the cards should say two to go. Talk about soul crushing.
I used the small boost from being pissed about the laps remaining to rally and finish pretty strong. 57 minutes. I was riding in forth, but ended up 3rd because the guy who was leading flatted. He rode two laps on the flat and I just caught him with about a half lap to go.
This venue has a ton of potential. There were quite a few references to it being "Euro" even though none of us have ever been to euro. A good amount of the right kind of elevation, heavy grass, firm roadways and sketchy descents. As I always say, a good venue should have lots of places to flat or crash. It was a good, hard race, we won baked goods and they were giving away free apples.
Next year the Ct. series will work to move the date so that it doesn't conflict with Ice weasels. Geoff House had a little too much Christmas party fun the night before or he very likely would have been behind the number one box. Nice job to Mike Parent for what I think is his first win, he really rode strong.
Just when I thought my cyclocross season was over, a change in weekend plans opened up the possibility of one more race. Persuaded by a friend, I resolved to load up the chariot and drive out to the March Farm in Bethlehem, CT for some Cyclomadness. And madness it truly was, since I decided that an extra 15 minutes of suffering was worth it to race at11:30 in the Pro123 category instead of 3PM (not a fan of the CT series standard schedule of events... but I guess somebody has to go last).
There were only about a dozen starters, so the goal was just to not get embarrassed and perhaps not be DFL. The course's overabundance of sharp rocks ensured that the latter would be more than achievable. I had been warned by fellow Expo dudes Jon Tarbox and Rich Allen that the risk for flats was high, so I put a few extra PSI in the tubeless tires. Besides the geologic challenges, the course was tough, and not in the way that benefits a weekend warrior like me. A steep ride-able hill followed by a winding track up through the orchard, the quick downhill never seemed to offer enough rest before the lower section consisting of a slow grind through field and a muddy corn maze. The wide open back and forth stretches before and after the finish line were a relative relief.
I got an unnecessarily good start and basically attempted to stick on Eric Carlson's wheel. This was manageable until a mistake on the steep hill, where I lost contact and proceeded to lose a few seconds each lap to the group ahead. No complaints though, as I shifted focus to enjoying the fact that I was racing bikes outside in December wearing short sleeves. End result was a 9th place finish and some motivation to start training for next year.
Mark Sondeen did not shy away from the later start, however, as he tackled the Cat 3/4 event trying out both his XC MTB steed and standard issue cross bike. Verdict was out on which worked better, but the combo landed Mark in 6th out of an 8 man field that was apparently crushed by a high schooler with the Hot Tubes team.
Earlier in the day, Joe C., Rich A., and Jon Tarbox were out on course in the Masters race. Jon turned in a 3rd place in what would be a warm-up for his Sunday victory in New Haven. Rich Allen was 5th and Joe C was 10th, both in the 50+. Nice job by everyone!
March Farms CX 40+ Cat 1-4
First time doing this race and it was challenging to say the least. The first half the course was run
through a few rows of an apple orchard. After crossing a rocky mud ravine you entered a corn field and then zig-zagged back up the hillside. The rocky ravine and the corn field would result in many flats, myself ending up with three. After running half the course to grab another bike, I went from the top 3 down to 10th on the day. It was a frustrating morning to go from fighting for a podium finish to trying not to get lapped.
Elm City CX 40+ Cat 1-4
Another first time race for me as I usually call it a season after NBX in Rhode Island. This was a fun fast course with some singletrack, open fields and a tough gravel climb to contend with. After getting off to a good start I quickly realized that I would not be able to keep up with the two leaders Joe and Tim. I ended up riding most of the race in a group of 3-4 but found myself getting gapped going up the climb. On the last lap I was dropped again and couldn’t bring in back in time to contest the finish, ending up in 6th. I was hoping for a better result as I was in contention for the overall in the Connecticut series, but it was not to be. Already looking forward to next year.