Sunday, October 18, 2009

I love cyclocross--part 2

Another weekend off from work brings me another opportunity to do some cyclocross racing. My original plan was to head up to Portland, ME, for a race up there-and I'd get to catch up with my UNE homie, Mike and his wife Jo. However, I found a race a little closer-just over the border in NH, so I opted for the shorter drive. This turned out to be a good idea as I ended up picking Jean up from the Airport at about 11:00pm on Friday night.

My alarm went off shortly after 6:00am on Saturday, and since most of my gear was all set, it was just a matter of making some coffee and packing up the car. I made a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts to see one of my co-workers at her other job, then with another hot beverage in hand, I hit the road to the New England Velodrome in Londonderry, NH. Interestingly, I had this race venue confused with another venue also in New Hampshire, and truth be told, I hated this course. When I pulled in to the parking lot, I actually thought about turning around and heading home. I can't say exactly what it was about the course that turned me off so much, but it's definitely not one of my favorites.

Well, I was there, I had pre-registered, so I wasn't about to waste that time and money. I got my number and took off for a practice lap.

The course starts on a paved, oval track. After about a half a lap, you take a hard left, up a short hill, take another hard left, hit a dip, then hit a hard right while also heading uphill. That first section, from what I remembered from last year, was TIGHT as the mass start totally bottlenecked because there's plenty of areas to flub up. Once through that section, it's basic singletrack for a short while, until a nice short but steep downhill. This little downhill separated the mountain bikers from the road riders. Unfortunately, you had to make an almost 180 degree turn at the bottom and come back up. Fun! From there, it was more singletrack until you popped out to flat area with a zig-zag/hairpin turn section marked off with old tires. The turns were tight and traction was sparse. After that, there were a couple of other tight turns then we popped up back on to the track after a short but steep sandy run-up. We went into the track's infield, jumped over a couple of barriers, then more hairpin turns until we popped back out on to the track, to head out for another lap.

After my pre-ride, I re-assessed my opinion-the course was tight, twisty, and fun.

When the race started, I was surprised to find myself near the front-in fact, after a few turns, there were only three riders ahead of me. Another passed me, and then another, but one of those guys was in a different class (older-damn him!), and the other guy I caught and passed, until he passed me again. One more pass and I held on for fourth in my class (Cat 4), and fifth overall. That was enough to secure my 2010 racing season on a UCI Pro team, and possibly an invite to the Tour De France. When I finally got done signing autographs and taking business cards from sports' agents, I made my way back to the car. Lilo, my mechanic, who also happens to be a koala bear, took my bike and rubbed it down with eucalyptus leaves, and I put on my mauve recovery jump-suit. What the hell am I talking about? Who knows. I did come in fourth, and I did have a good time-and I'll even go back to that course again some day!

Enjoy the random pics!

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