Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross

Today, I had to shake off the cobwebs at the Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross. It was my first cross race in nearly two years. We packed the van and drove the short distance from Bolton to Mansfield Hollow State Park. I was fortunate that at registration, they had a print-out of the Wikipedia definition for cyclocross. It had been so long since my last cross race, that I had forgotten the rules! To make matters worse, I was so rusty, that I missed the start of my race, the Men’s 35+. When the other riders took off, I was still standing at the van, struggling to take off my knee warmers. By the time I got going, I had conceded a 30 second head-start to the field, and my heart rate was jacked to the maximum from the gun. It was a fine way to ease back into the sport…

The definition of cyclocross.

It worked out for the best. I haven’t done any intensity in my limited training regimen, and I’ve only had a few bike rides (commuting to work) in the past month. Cyclocross requires good handling skills and I will need more practice before I’m ready to ride with confidence. I picked my way through the small field, eventually moving up to eighth spot, where I ended up at the finish. My time was 49:24, a little less than three minutes back from the winner, Doug Mosher. John Aspinwall finished second. Horst-Benidorm-Property Research Corp. teammate, Wade Summers, had a nice ride to finish third.

Mansfield Hollow

Cyclocross is my favorite type of cycling. I love riding in the fall and cross is one of the best ways to get out and hammer during the season when the leaves fall from the trees. The races are only 45+ minutes, so you don’t trash yourself. Compared to trail running and triathlon, they are over in a flash. I’m planning at least five more races between now and the holidays. We were fortunate to race in dry conditions this morning. The Mansfield course really is beautiful, but I might not have gone to the race if it was raining when we awoke this morning. I’m not ready for the mud yet.

Rock Climber.

One of my favorite cross races of all time was some years ago on this course, when they held the race in December. That race started in dry, but overcast conditions. There was a “snow sky,” and sure enough, 10 minutes into the race, the flakes started to fall. It was epic with the wind driven squall obscuring the course. That day, we finished with huge smiles on our faces. That is what cross is all about. Today, the rain held off and it was worth it to make the family trip to the Hollow, one of Connecticut’s beautiful places.

My favorite cross supporter/crew member.

For those who are unfamiliar with cyclocross, the best way to learn is to check out some of the videos on www.crosstube.net. The final lap of Sunday’s World Cup Race in the Czech Republic was just posted. These are the real crossers!

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