Staging for the 45+ master’s 1,2,3 race is more comfortable than yesterday. Saturday’s temps at race time were 22F with 15-20 mph wind, which made for the coldest day of racing this season. With temps soaring into the high 30′s at race time, we receive the standard announcements from the officials and the one minute to go, I switch the GoPro camera on, and say good luck to everyone, to be safe. The whistle blows and the frantic cyclocross sprint is on: who can reach the dirt first? After taking the hole-shot yesterday in the first flat field section, I do not fight for it. Taking second wheel is fine as my ex-teammate takes the lead. Curious to see the pace he sets: it is not that fast, so I will wait to attack on the steep part of the climb. I am here to train so a suicidal pace is the call of the day, not really caring about where I place.
The first climb is about 200m of 2% followed by a 25m wall at 12%, then 150m at 3-5%. I may be off on the grades since I do not have a Garmin, but I am sure these numbers are close. Next is a gravel section, a nice respite with a slight downhill grade, then a really rough section to a fast flowing right-hander leading to the run-up. The railroad ties are spaced nicely, almost too far apart for my vertically challenged legs. I am still pushing the pace and look back to see the damage caused. We now have a strung out field with gaps everywhere, laughter. Dan Casper is on my wheel, not taking the lead until we hit the road section at the end of lap one.
Dan, schooling me yesterday in the final lap, takes the road section saying “get on” as he winds it up to 30.
Dan is coming off a huge win in Manchester, winning the 40-44 Master’s World Pursuit Championship. Getting on his wheel was never easy and I always had to scrub speed going into the dirt chicane, not wanting to kiss the dirt or the big tree. At the end of the day, Dan and I have a huge gap on the rest of the race trading attacks every lap, with Dan rolling away with one to go.
The course is quite good, though very rough in places. When the permafrost sets in, which it will, the lack of technical sections will be a non-issue. One slip of concentration and this course will cause the best riders to go down quickly. When it is slippery, the course will have a very different look, it will grow fangs. The downside will be watching races: the venue is not spectator-friendly though this could be corrected with a few wisely placed tents by USA Cycling, or the promoters. No matter what, we as racers will be put to the test in Verona next month. Train hard everyone, this will be a great test of our fitness and cyclocross skills.
Below is footage of the race. Thanks to Rob Curtis of PSIMET Custom Wheels for loaning me his GoPro and to A.L.L. Masonry for their support of Enzo’s this season.
Wish I would have seen this video before committing to going. That course in really unfortunate, even with mud/snow it lacks any character at all. It may have a bigger hill then bend but there is nothing about it that even begins to compare to the quality of prior nationals.
The course is not easy and if you bring a TT bike, good luck! The venue is also good with a lot of good viewing spots. It s not super technical but there are some challenges. Ride it first then if you hate it say so.