Today was the Newtown Cross, race number six in the CT Series of Cyclocross. Overnight, the temperature dropped, and it was very cold when we awoke this morning in nearby Prospect.
Yesterday’s Cheshire Cross was a cool and blustery affair. Today, it was cool, but the wind had died down, and the sunshine was brilliant. The Master Men had a 9:00 A.M. start, which can be a challenge on a Sunday. We work all week!
Nevertheless, the positive side of an early start is an early finish. Debbie, the kids, and I stayed with her parents last night, so the drive was less than 30 minutes to the venue at Fairfield Hills, the site of the former state hospital.
I hadn’t been there since 2013 when this race debuted…in the snow and I hardly recognized it without the white stuff. The course has changed a bit since then. The event was presented by Team 26 and the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, which has created a lot of excitement for youth and junior bicycle racing. The junior race, which followed our race, had the largest junior field in New England, and proceeds from the event will benefit CCAP.
The Masters fields were competitive, as usual, though the registration numbers were down a bit from yesterday, and that could be due to competition from races in New York and Massachusetts. Team Horst Sports teammate, Pat Cunningham, continued his winning ways in the 50+ race with a resounding victory. Paul Nyberg wasn’t far behind.
Art Roti and Wade Summers joined me in the 40+ race. Place-wise, I had one of my best results of the year. I had the opportunity to sprint for second place, but ended up fourth after getting out-kicked by Monte Frank and Bryan Atwood, who beat me in the sprint for eighth yesterday. The winner was Matt Krause, who is a very strong Master’s rider.
I rode a smart race until the final 200 meters when I let Monte and Bryan lead me onto the finishing straight. I never had a chance to come around them and they were too strong in the finale. That’s the third week in a row where I’ve given up valuable places in the last 200 meters of a race. After today’s disappointment, I’ve vowed to race more aggressively on the last lap and to attack. Right now, I have no sprint, so there is no point waiting for a sprint.
The course was fun, with a lot of riding. There were some tight turns, but it was mostly an open race. There was a stiff grass run-up with a little ring climb that followed. I tried to ride the hill in warm-ups, but crashed and slid down the sidehill, so I decided to run it every lap in the race. Riding it would have been no advantage.
There were some challenging roots and rocks in the woods that caused more than one puncture in our field. You had to pick the right line to avoid a pinch flat. There was one set of barriers that forced you to dismount. Other than the hill and barriers, it was all fast riding.
Monte led from the start, but he punctured on the first lap, and then was having gear problems with his pit bike. That allowed Matt to slip away from us, and we never closed the gap. Monte, Bryan, and I were joined for part of the race by Lawrence Merling. He may have also had a mechanical, but I’m not sure. With two to go, we gapped him and then there was a little cat and mouse between the three of us.
Monte keep the pace high and Bryan pressured him while I hung on. I missed my opportunity to jump around them and the final few turns were around the buildings, which left me no opportunity to pass. I think I was stronger on the hill and long grinding slog in the grass afterwards, but I mistakenly sat on them waiting for an opportunity closer to the finish. Oh well, I was one spot “out of the money” but all proceeds went to CCAP, so it is no loss!
My legs were a little tired after yesterday’s race, but that is no excuse. It was a fun weekend of cross racing. Next week is Stony Point in New York, but I’ll only race once. I earned the right to drink a Connecticut brewed beer, and I’ll have one tonight!