The Verge New England Cyclocross finals were this weekend in Warwick, Rhode Island. I did my final “double” of the year, racing both Day 1 and Day 2 at the beautiful Goddard Memorial State Park on Narragansett Bay.
On Saturday, we had classic New England cross weather. It was cold, but warmer than expected. Friday’s rain cleared the sky, but it made the course wet and muddy in spots. The sandy soil absorbed some of the moisture, but it was still slick, and there were puddles on the asphalt sections.
The wind was blowing fierce along the bay and that slowed us on that section of the course. This course is famous for its long beach runs. The sand is unrideable (for most of us). I ran the whole way. My legs were pretty dead after a long week. I was a little underdressed. I opted for shorts, which was OK, but my gloves and socks were too thin. I made an adjustment and added layers for today’s race. The weekend was just crazy hectic with this line up: Cub Scouts Pack meeting/cross race/LEGO Fest/holiday party/cross race/Christmas tree hunting/recovery.
My first few laps on Day 1 of the 35+/Junior 15-18 race were fraught with bobbles and miscues. I righted the ship, but was in no-man’s land for a long time before a few more guys blew by me. I couldn’t keep up. Then, Daniel Coady caught me. I was able to hang on, but had a death-defying dismount going into the stone steps coming off of the asphalt.
Thanks to the sand and my careless decision to not unclip prior to the dismount, my left cleat didn’t release from the pedal and I slammed into the stairs, dragging my bike behind me with one foot still attached. I smacked my arm, knee, and tweaked my hamstring. My bike was fine with the exception of a few scratches and some damaged handlebar tape. The adrenaline saved me from feeling any pain yesterday. It wasn’t until I woke up this morning when I realized how hard the fall hurt. At first I thought I hurt myself dancing at the party…but then I remembered the cross race!
I recovered, closed the gap to Daniel, but was never able to get on his wheel and he dusted me in the final few turns before the sprint finish. I was well back in the field, which was stacked with masters and juniors talent like all Verge Series races. My teammate, Arthur Roti, had a good ride and was about a minute in front of me. Our other mates, Paul Nyberg, Wade Summers, and Matt Domnarksi did well in the 45+ race. The five of us have competed in most of the New England Series races.
Yesterday, I went to the race on my own, but today, Debbie and the kids joined me. It was much colder and the course was changed a bit. They removed a few asphalt sections that got icy overnight. They lengthened the beach run and added some sections in the woods that required more sprinting. This course is also known for its numerous roots. It’s a bumpy one.
I was a little slower today and really couldn’t hold any wheels for long. Once again Daniel Coady caught me, but this time I was able to stick with him for a while before he faded ever so slightly, just like I did yesterday. I felt better on the last two laps, but couldn’t close the gap to my little nemesis, 14 year-old Philip Hempstead. I was gaining on him with one lap to go, but he just powered away from me. I was dying trying, but never really had a chance despite the cheers (and jeers) from some fans on the course. Go Philip!
This weekend was my 15th and 16th cyclocross races of the year. That’s the most in like 10 years. I wish I had better form, but I’m still having a blast doing battle with these guys. I’m a little cooked after a long year of athletics. I’ve done 44 total races when you add in all of the triathlons, trail running, road running, and mountain biking. I’ve only got one more cross race on tap, December 21st in Newtown for the Connecticut Series finals.
It had been several years since I raced in Warwick, so it was fun to visit Goddard again. The park is historic and thankfully, the carousel building was heated. We saw a lot of friends, but it was so darn cold, that there was little mingling. We did see Bekkie Wright from the Silk City Striders/Shenipsit Striders, and Bob Sharkey, one of our long time trail running friends from Newport. He was scouting the cross races. I encouraged him to join in. I propose a New England cyclocross banquet/party so we can see all of these folks again without 10 layers of clothing on. The Verge Series is over until 2014, but I plan to be back. I want to finish these races in the top half, or at least finish in the top half of the 35-44 year olds. I hate to say it but I’m looking forward to 45+ so we don’t have the super-fast juniors in our field. Top half is my 2014 cross goal.
The drive to Warwick from Bolton is a nice one, but two races in two days meant another six hours in the car. It was a crazy cross kind of weekend. I would love to be at either (or both) DAS Beaver Cross and Ice Weasels next weekend, but I’m supporting Debbie at Hellgate in Virginia. I need a break anyway. See you in Newtown.