NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS—While many of the US pros are heading to the Cincy3 race weekend, New England has some serious competition in store as well. The legendary Cycle-Smart International, the longest-running UCI-sanctioned cyclocross race in the US, marks its 23rd year this weekend on November 2 & 3. These two days of racing are rounds 5 & 6 of the prestigious Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge, so the Elite races will be the staging ground for fierce competition for series points continuing from the Gran Prix of Gloucester and the Providence Cyclocross Festival. CSI is also rounds 7 & 8 of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the premier amateur points competition in the US, inviting racers of all ages and experience levels to compete for honors throughout the season. Most importantly, though, racers battle for pie: Tart Baking’s delicious apple pies will be a part of the winnings in every category.
CSI, started by Adam Myerson in 1991 when he was just 19 years old, is a storied race with a history that parallels that of New England Cyclocross itself. Its growth through the past 23 years serves as an indicator of the growth of the NECX, and, in fact, of US cyclocross as whole. Myerson brought together the NECX oligarchs, those who live and breathe bike racing, to organize this event: Alec Donahue, coach, celebrated racer, and co-founder of the JAM Fund is the race director; JD Bilodeau, long-time racer, organizer, and race results guru designed the course; and up-and-coming race organizer Patrick Goguen, of the Goguen cycling dynasty, is is the series Operations Coordinator. In fact, this race calls to mind the overall arch of cyclocross in the US: A local, grassroots event that has morphed into one of the biggest, longest running pro events in the country.
Race action unfolds at scenic Look Park in Northampton, Massachusetts, where a newly re-designed course offers as much excitement for racers as it does for spectators. This quintessential New England course requires technical skill to handle challenging wooded sections, power to speed through grassy fields, and prowess to handle transitions between the two. The venue is sure to draw crowds of all ages, with a beer garden featuring local craft brewers High & Mighty Beer, an expanded kids’ race organized by the Northampton Cycling Club, and a petting zoo and bounce house.
In the running for the Shimano NEPCX crown is Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), fresh from sharing a podium with US National Cyclocross Champion Katie Compton at the Colorado Cross Classic. Just returning to the US after two impressive 15th-place finishes in World Cup races in Europe, Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty20 Cycling) will be a force to reckon with this weekend, as will be Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers), the powerhouse US racer with the most career wins. The extraordinarily talented U23 women’s leader in the NEPCX series, Maghalie Rochette (Cyclocrossworld.com), looks to solidify her lead this weekend.
In the Elite men’s competition, Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Factory) just scored two wins at Ellison Park and appears poised for more. Teammates Anthony Clark and Stephen Hyde of JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria have been the ones to watch this season, and they’ll be the ones Gagne should watch out for as well. Adam Myerson (Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis) will take a break from race promoting to school the field, while Shawn Milne (Keough Cyclocross p/b Felt Bicycle), confident from a win last weekend at Orchard CX; Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel); Craig Richey (VOmax – SponsorConnected.com p/b Norco), and area pro Jeremy Durrin (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) are sure to be in the mix as well. Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) has just returned from World Cup racing in Europe, where his competitor Jeremy Martin (Rocky Mountain Factory) raced earlier this season; these two will be locked in close competition for U23 series points this weekend.
Meanwhile, in the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, Ryley Mosher (WheelWorks) and Daniel John Vaughn (Corning/No Tubes/Swan Cycles) claim the 10-14 Juniors jerseys in the girls’ and boys’ divisions. Stephen Pierce and teammate Alec Donahue of Northampton’s own JAM Fund/NCC hold leaders’ jerseys in the Category 3 men’s and 35+ Masters men’s categories. Melissa Seib (Bikeman) leads the amateur women’s field, while Alisa Allegrini (Nantucket Velo) holds a strong lead in the 35+ masters women’s field. In the masters and junior 15-18 competitions, watch for close races for series leadership this weekend. Junior men 15-18 leader Peter Goguen (Team CF), 45+ leader Roger Aspholm (Finkraft Cycling Team), and 55+ leader Al Blanchard (Blue Ribbon Restaurants) hold jerseys by slim margins.
Registration closes today, and a number pick-up party Friday at Northampton Coffee will feature treats from Tart, so stop by between 7-9 pm brush elbows with some of the world-class talent arriving in Massachusetts to race CSI. The party is sponsored by High & Mighty Beer, Tart Baking, and Northampton Coffee.
Watch for live race updates on Twitter from @VergeNECXS for the amateur races and @NEproCX for the Elite races. Stay tuned for links to the live streaming video coverage of the race from Hooksone.com, starting at 2 pm EST!