2013 West Hill Shop Cyclocross

It was a fun day at the 23rd annual West Hill Shop Cyclocross in Putney, Vermont. This is one of my favorite races of the year. It is one of the lynchpin cross races on the New England scene. With competition elsewhere in the region, it doesn’t draw the numbers that it once did, but it is still a fantastic grass-roots event.

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The whole family likes this venue, though it was chilly and raw today.  The outdoor activities were not as comfortable as they were last weekend in NoHo at the Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross. However, it was perfect for riding. These are the cross conditions I’ve been waiting all season for.

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That doesn’t mean that it was wet. Though the it rained in the morning, and it was spitting on and off, we were dry during the race. The course itself had a little mud, which is more than we have seen anywhere this fall. That little bit of moisture made for awesome traction. It was tacky and there were some ruts, but it was a lot of fun to ride.

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Thankfully, this year they lengthened the course by adding some turns in the cornfield and took us into the woods for a short loop. These little modifications made a big difference. The course suits both my teammate, Art Roti, and me. He and I had a good start in the 35+ race. We were paying attention when the race official blew a surprise start whistle before giving a 60 second or 30 second warning. That caught a few people off guard, including the course marshals who had just let a vehicle on to the course. We came around the first hard left hand bend with a vehicle in front of us. That ramped the heart rate up a bit.

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I was able to make it past with no issues and everyone stayed upright. I settled in and even rode in the number two spot through the second lap. Eventually, I fell back to fourth where I battled with Art who was in fifth. The two of us traded places depending on who was stronger on various parts of the course. We alternated pulling in the wind on the flats. This allowed us to put some distance on the chasers, but we never closed the gap to third place. We were only 30 or so seconds behind the top spot, but we were already riding above our ability today.

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Art nabbed fourth and I hung on for fifth a few seconds back. It was my best cross race of the year and I hope to keep getting stronger now that the colder weather has settled in. The Horst Engineering Cycling team was also represented by Matt Domnarksi, who finished third in the 45+ day for a podium spot. After the race, we warmed up in the bike shop and visited with friends while watching the women’s race. We don’t get to see our friends the Northcott’s as often now that we all have kids, but it was fun to see Kate Northcott crushing it out there. she is the one flying by the solar panels in the photo below while leading the race.

I’ll book my schedule for the 24th annual as soon as the date is set.

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Race Results (will be posted when available).

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