by Andrew Reimann
STONY POINT, NEW YORK—Riders came to the Supercross Cup knowing that this course was going to be different than their 2012 experience at Eisenhower Park in Long Island. For one thing, the race had been relocated to Anthony Wayne Recreation Area, a park known better for its mountain bike trails and rooted terrain rather than long, flat sections of grass.
The move was based on several reasons, but logistics were a primary concern. Since Super-storm Sandy hit the East Coast, Eisenhower Park had been used by the Red Cross as a recovery center. Coupling that with the park’s beautiful sections dedicated as war memorials meant the promoters had very little space to create a cyclocross course. Although a change in date and some last minute heroics saved Supercross for last season, the result was a considerably small course without many technical features to speak of.
Pre-riding the new course at Anthony Wayne revealed a complete reversal. The race began with a duo of tough climbs—the first on grass, the next on pavement—just before rolling into the barriers and descending through a tight switchback. The course continued around to the SRAM staircase, which tempted only the most brazen racers to ride the dozen-plus steps while their more conservative brethren wisely carried their bikes. A short stretch of pavement followed, culminating in a difficult climb up a dirt grade that bottlenecked both the Men’s and Women’s Elite races and forced the riders to dismount.
Then the course became technical.
Roots, rocks, and loose stones the size of baseballs littered the finishing half of the race that mainly took place in the backwoods of the park. Riders with quick bursts of acceleration were rewarded on short climbs and off-camber turns. The promoters had highlighted the scores of potential dangers until the trails were loaded with more spray paint than a Basquiat graffiti exhibition.
Riders left the woods only to be greeted by curbs, and more curbs, and more curbs. The course’s only flat section had been routed through enough paved walkways to advantage racers deciding to use their BMX bikes instead. The curbs bisected a long straightaway, encouraging many to try bunny hopping at higher speeds than they may have been used to. By the time I arrived to the park, I counted a few broken rims and more people carrying their bikes than I would like to admit.
I caught up with Anthony Clark (Jam Fund/NCC) at registration, who freely admitted he was going to stick to his file treads and keep his tire pressure as close to 30 psi as he could, noting there were just too many opportunities to flat during his race. Other UCI riders had described the course as a mountain bike race, where you pick lines for your wheel more often than trying to play off other racers.
Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers) just smiled at me when I asked what she thought of the last section. Upon seeing her pit bike, I pointed out her elegant solution for helping her shifting and brake feel in cold weather. Dabs of hot glue methodically lined her Dura-Ace brake levers. She told me she liked the addition enough to even include them on her road bike. When I asked her if she would mind me posting pictures of the levers, she only requested that I give full credit to her boyfriend, Rick, for the idea.
After a few early crashes, including a painful face-plant caused by a mistimed bunny hop, the course designers made the executive decision to reroute the course around all but two of the curbs, transforming the straightaway into a section better suited for power rather than finesse.
Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty20 Cycling Co.) began pulling away from her competitors twenty-five minutes into the Elite Women’s race. Clearly not wanting to repeat last Sunday’s sprint finish loss at KuztownCX, Kemmerer continued to increase the gap with each lap, finishing an impressive twenty seconds over second place Laura Van Gilder.
Emma White (Cyclocrossworld.com) had one of the strongest races of her career. Despite being forced to dismount early on a brutal climb after the SRAM staircase, White remained with the leader’s pack. Her and Van Guilder traded places for the final two laps until the final stretch, where White lost in a sprint for second by half a bike length.
In the Men’s Elite race, Jeremy Durrin (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) took the hole shot and created a sizable gap for the first two laps. The crowd was beginning to wonder if Durrin had enough in his engine to hold off the favorite, Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), and a chasing group led by Anthony Clark.
With five laps to go, Durrin used a major reserve of energy hammering away on the long stretch of asphalt. Johnson had caught his wheel and used the younger rider’s effort to break away from the rest of the pack. Once Johnson broke through to the pole position, he continued to ride away for a solo victory.
Second place was snatched up by Curtis White, third place was Kerry Werner (MOB CX Team), and Robert Marion (American Classic) passed a depleted Durrin for fourth.
Supercross Cup Day 1 Elite Men
|11||Michael VAN DEN HAM||CAN||21||59:49:00|
Supercross Cup Day 1 Elite Women
|2||Laura VAN GILDER||USA||49||40:38:00|
|16||Corey COOGAN CISEK||USA||36||43:04:00|