The NYCROSS.com CX series finished up with the Bethlehem Cup yesterday. The event was well attended and well organized. Chuck Quackenbush does a great job making the event more than a race with a chilli cook off, free beer, and a big fire pit - you could not even have the cross race and likley everyone would still come for the food and fun. But, luckily, there is a cross race, and its a doosey.
The course has been described as Belgian like, mostly because its insanely hard. Everything about it is more difficult than normal. The runup is insane. The mud bogs are deep and long. The places you can rest are non-existenant. Across the board, its just painful. But, its a type of pain that should be imbraced.
Its refreshing to race through muck when so many of the races on the East Coast have become grass crits. The Cup is for sure, its own animal. Its not Gloucester, its not No-Ho. Its not even Uncle Sam. That what makes it great.
My day of racing went like this -In the 3/4, field I had a good start and made the front group of five, but coming into the first big run up on lap 1, I lost my chain. It actually jamed in between the ring and the 3rd eye. I lost about 30 seconds trying to get it out. The whole field went by me. I kept my cool, and decided not to go full throttle chasing, instead riding fast and steady, picking people off. I rode back into about 10th place over the next couple laps - were I usually spend my time anyway, but, on the second to last lap my chain jammed again. I got it fixed more quicklky this time, by actually kicking the 3rd eye with my foot, getting it to move and popping the chain pop out again. But alas, I had lost a ton of places. I went around to the finish, saw my dad and cousin hanging out, and pulled out with 1 to go to go talk to them.
I hate DNFing, but decided that rather then chasing like a maniac again, I would save it for the 1/2/3 race and consider what I just did nothing more than a good warmup.
Stopping early payed off in fact. A few minutes after I rolled off the course, I got to see Curtis White, at all of 13 years old, beat adult Rich Teal in the sprint for the win. That's right, Curtis is now winning adult cat 3 races. Curtis always impresses me, he's faster than I'll ever be and he's not even half my age. Amazingly, I'm not that old either! More impressive than his on bike skill, is the fact that he's one of the nicest kids I've ever met. There isn't anyone in bike racing I'd rather see win than Curtis!
After the race finished up I debated doing the 1/2/3 or just having some of the free beer from the Pump Station. I decided to do the race, and convinced a good contingent of the cbrc cat 3s to enter the 1/2/3 field as well. Thanks to a major UCI race taking place in Canada this weekend, there weren't that many super fast guys there. Not that any of would really have a chance, but with a small group of elite riders present, the chances that I would get lapped by tons of people was low.
James and Danny lined up with me. James and I decided to have a grudge match, talking all sorts of smack about who would beat who. Justin Lindene, who has been top 5 in UCI elite races was there too, which meant our major challenge of the day would be not getting lapped more than once.
The gun went off and we went out fast. The barriers on the course are about 1/4 mile from the start, so we hit them still in a the whole group. I wish I had a video of this, because we were flying, and it was really fun to be in the group with the elite racers, racing over the barriers at a speed you just never see in the 3/4 field. It was a real throw down.
The race opened up in front of me, with most of the fast guys quickly opening a gap. The CBRC contingent, including Chris Delisle, Danny, James and I found our selves racing each other mostly. Chris powered away pretty early in the second lap. Leaving Danny, James and I to fight it out for the "not last place" award. I attacked somewhere in the middle of the race, but Danny and James matched it. James attacked me coming through the mud the next lap, but I clawed back to him. Then Danny charged back to us too. with about 3 to go I came over the barriers and opened up the throttle as soon as I remounted. I got a gap and kept it through the techincal corners that followed and onto the pavement. Danny closed it down over the next half lap though and sped past me in the mud pit after bunnyhopping a log that I had dismounted to clear. It was a solid tech move and good strategy. He carried so much speed into the mud, he was gone while I ground away.
Hoping to catch DannyI took a risk on the sketchy descent following the mud bog, but almost crashed severely, reaffirming the thinking that taking risks isn't really ever a good idea even though you think it is when you're in severe oxygen debt.
So the gaps stuck, Danny finished 8th, me 9th, James 10th. Solid sounding results, until you consider the number of starters in the race was also 10. Justin won. No suprises there.
What was suprising, was that during the race, I really started enjoying the mud, and pain, and suffering. It was hard, it was more pf a man vs. nature then man vs. man challenge. Regardless of what place anyone finished yesterday, all of us who raced as hard as we could and finished really accomplished something. Which, is really as good as it gets.