2015 West Hill Shop Cyclocross

Today was the 25th annual West Hill Shop Cyclocross in Putney, Vermont. I made the journey north with Debbie and the kids. We joined up with several Team Horst Sports mates, including Arthur Roti, Wade Summers, Pat Cunningham, and Matt Domnarski. The “Putney” race is one of my all time favorite events. I absolutely love the course, and I love this time of year. The race is always the first weekend in November. For many years, it was the day after the Frank-N-Horst Cyclocross in Keene. Frank-N-Horst may be gone, but Putney race is still with us.

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This was the 12th time that I’ve done this race, so I’ve done nearly half of them, which is pretty good. I think of the 130 or so career cyclocross races that I’ve done, I’ve raced West Hill more times than any other. It was my fourth ever race, the first one coming 20 years ago in 1995. So, today had some nostalgia to it.

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I was happy to be back in Putney with both teammates and family. It was perfect cross weather today. It took us a while to get out of the driveway. We took our VW Westy and our Gearwagon, but it took a while to gather all the necessary stuff. we had five bicycles between us. I joked that my heart rate was elevated and I was sweating, before ever leaving the driveway. When we left home, it was raining lightly and it was cool.

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When we got to Putney an hour and forty-five minutes later, it was still overcast with light drizzle. The course was damp, but not too muddy. As the day went on and the breeze picked up, it dried out. By the end of my race around 1:30 P.M., the sun was breaking through the clouds. The kids had a little race around 12:35 and all of the Masters 35+, 45+, and 55+ riders started 10 minutes later with each group spaced by 30 seconds. Next year, I’ll be in the 45+ age group, but this year, I’m one of the oldest in the 35+ which is a disadvantage, but I’m not complaining. I’m happy to be racing strong at 43 (racing age 44).

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I had my best start of the season and going into the third lap, the front group of five or six was just ahead of me, but that is when the elastic band snapped. I couldn’t close the 10 second gap and it eventually opened up even more. I was with another rider in between the front group and a  larger chasing group. Things got reshuffled and I stayed ahead of the chasing group. I don’t know where I ended up. I’ll have to wait for the results on Monday. I didn’t even bother to go look. I was happy with my ride. I gave it everything I had.

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One of the famous features of the Putney course is the run-up. It’s one of the hills that has inspired the design of Horst Spikes. Before the start, I changed out my Medium cross spikes, and installed my Long’s. They were great for the loose, but damp sand on the hill. There are two other dismounts on the course, including a set of barriers, and a short muddy run-up with wood stairs.

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We got to do dine at some of our favorite places. For lunch, on the way to the shop, we stopped at the Putney Co-Op, where we are members. Then, on the way home, we stopped in Northampton. First, we got bread and sweets (take out) at Hungry Ghost Bread, and then we had dinner at Paul & Elizabeth’s, our favorite restaurant. We will be back in Northampton next weekend on both Saturday and Sunday for the Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross. Horst Engineering is sponsoring the race, so our team will have a big presence. NoHo is one of the bigger races in New England. It ranks behind only Gloucester and Providence in participation. Look Park is a great venue, so if you are interested in watching a really cool event, come to NoHo and see some of the best cyclocross racing that New England has to offer.

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Race Results (will be posted when available)

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