Friday, September 29, 2017

Too Hot for 'Cross! Cyclocross at White Park

The cyclocross season has to start some time, ready or not, and this year I'm certainly on the not side of that continuum. The Dirty Kanza took absolutely everything out of me this year. I raced exactly twice since the beginning of June. I have not actually felt like doing intervals until a week ago. But having skipped Quad Cross and not eager to wait longer I decided to stuff myself into my skinsuit for Cyclocross at White Park.

White Park was a cozy little local race when I first line up at it 5 years ago. No more. The Masters 45+ had 47 starters, including some of the better New England competitors. The M55+ lined up another 32 guys right behind us. Truth is every good "local" cyclocross race in New England gathers a following after a year or two, Orchard Cross, MRC CX, Shedd Park, all get 300-500+ racers out.
We are very blessed with the abundance of great events in NECX.

The weather on Saturday felt nothing like cyclocross season. Heavy warm air smothered the park. By the time a thin morning mist lifted the temperature was already warmer than comfortable. I hoped that a 9:30 a.m. race start would save me from the heat. While it did help, I was still in for a steamy race. I decided to race in a short sleeve jersey & bibs rather than the skin suit. I was very glad to unzip the jersey down to my sternum during the race. By the 2nd lap I was dripping sweat from my helmet. It was definitely too hot for cross by the afternoon.

But Cyclocross doesn't wait. All of NECX was eager to start the season not matter how hot the weather. I raced a good first 2 laps. I was chasing the top 10 & riding well with the guys I want to compete against. But then I made a couple of small mistakes and had no snap to recover. I made my only big mistake washing out on the gravel transition into the off camber by the soccer field. 3 guys squirted past as I got up. Those were 3 places that I could not gain back in the final 2 laps of the race.

And that was OK for my first race of the season. It was if nothing else a reminder of how much fitness I need to race the way I'd like, and therefore how much work I have to do. I also was reminded that cyclocross in New England is a family affair. My wife & son came down to watch my race. I rode with him a little bit of the course before his. Dozens of other families were doing the same. I cheered on the cub juniors with Kate Northcot who is nursing a knee injury. My wife and I got to cuddle the new babies of our old friends & team mates.

me & the Mrs after the race
photo by Russ Campbell
Cyclocross is NECX is something special because it is a big extended misfit family. Every weekend is like Thanksgiving until Thanksgiving and beyond.