CROSS IS HERE: The local 2017 cyclocross season kicked off this Sunday at Blunt Park in Springfield, MA. The CompEdge team always put together an enjoyable event with a fun and technical course to get things underway. Expo was represented in a number of categories. For the Men's 3/4 race, newcomers Erik C. and Will L., along with yours truly, were flying the Expo colors in a competitive field of 35 or so starters. On a narrow, twisty course, a good start is always critical so of course I somehow found myself arriving to the start line late and therefore at the pack of the field. A couple minutes later, an unceremoniously "GO!" meant we were off and cranking down the tarmac to the first hairpin curve. I sliced aggressively up towards the inside of turn one, positioning about mid-pack. From there it was tough work trying to pick through one by one, but avoiding a couple crashes and bobbles by competitors in the root sections, I continued to drive forward. I passed Will at some point, who was putting in a solid first lap up toward the front. After the new twisty section, we shot back along the exit road headed toward the stone barriers and I was pleasantly surprised to see only a half dozen guys yet ahead of me. A good thing too because on a typically dusty day, I had about had my fill of dust to coat the lungs already.
Reaching the stone barriers, I caught a small group of 3 riders and fought to keep moving up. We seemed to be working a good pace though that maintained a bit of a gap back to the next guys. I saw Erik up ahead battling for 1st, another impressive ride especially considering his strong 10th place in the Elite race earlier. After recovering from the inevitable lap 1 blow-up, I kept cranking along. A couple of diggers by guys ahead (Erik included - ouch!) and suddenly it was me and a strong racer from the Mystic Velo team out ahead. The lap cards indicated 2 to go and I stuck to the wheel ahead of me as best I could. I guessed Mystic looked stronger than me, but I figured I'd put in a move to see what happened. I squared up the turn before the back straight and through down some power. Back into through the stone barriers, I had a gap - Sweet! Still expecting a charge from behind I kept the pressure on, but stayed smooth and with no mistakes on the bell lap, I cruised onto the line for my first ever victory in a CX race. Awesome!
Thanks to my fellow Expo teammates for the cheers and support (Joe C., Rich, Keith/Dad, and any others). Looking forward to the next race!