After a two weekend/three-week break from cyclocross, the Livingston Family did two great races this weekend. The first was the Cheshire Cross in Cheshire, Connecticut. This course is one of my favorites and is very near my in-law’s, the Schieffer’s, so it is super-convenient.
The second race took longer to get to. It was the Wicked Creepy Cross in Bennington, Vermont, and it was well worth the drive through the Berkshires of Western, Massachusetts and over the Green Mountains of Vermont.
The Cheshire course is one of the most rugged in New England with ample opportunity to crash, flat, or break your bike some other way. The rocks and roots in the woods posed a problem for me too. I had a clean race with no crashes and no bobbles, but I ran 30 psi in my Tufo tubular tires, and it wasn’t enough to keep me from bottoming out on the worst of the rocks.
That forced me to back off and ride over the rough stuff as lightly as I could. It was a tactical error on my part, but I got through to the finish without an incident and finished somewhere inside the top ten of the Masters 40+ race. I haven’t seen the results yet, but I may have been as high as sixth place. Team Horst Sports had an awesome turnout in Cheshire with multiple riders in the 40+, 50+, 4/5, and Junior categories.
The star of the day was teammate Matt Domnarksi, who scored the win in the 50+ race. He caught me with about a 1/2 a lap to go after starting 30 seconds behind. All of the Masters riders were on the course at the same time. Matt and I finished together and I was very happy for him. Not far behind was Pat Cunningham, who was 2nd ahead of Jonathan Tarbox from the Expo Wheelmen. Debbie was there to support us, and our son had a good ride in the Junior 9-12 year old race. It was great to see so many kids racing. The only complaint about Cheshire Cross was that these juniors only did one lap of the course, which is lame. The winner finished in less than eight minutes. That’s not long enough. They should have done two laps, even though the slower kids at the back may have taken 30 minutes to finish.
The entire Cheshire Cycle crew, including Race Director Hunter Pronovost and his volunteers, did a fabulous job with the race. I love Heckle Hill and the crazy people who come out to cheer. Thom Parson’s of www.dirtwire.tv had some good coverage, including this video featuring me. The 16% grade is rideable, but it takes every ounce of energy in your legs to make it over the top. We had no time to linger after the race. We had to get to Star Hill Sports in Tolland for an afternoon of soccer matches.
Today’s race was another great event, though we had to get up really early to make it there in time. The Junior 9-14 race was at 9:01 A.M., which meant we had to leave the house by 6:00 A.M., which we succeeded in doing. The drive was treacherous with heavy fog on Rt. 9 as we drove up and over the Green Mountains. Thankfully, it cleared a bit as we reached Bennington. The temperature was warmer and there was a lot less snow than we saw up on the ridge. We got to Willow Park in time to register and scout the course.
Our son had a fabulous race and got to make up for the short race at Cheshire by doing three full laps of the tricky Wicked Creepy course. He was knackered at the finish, but all smiles. It didn’t rain during the races, but the ground was wet from rain and snow prior in the week. That made for some slick corners. By the time my race went off at 11:45 A.M., the ground was tacky and there was a nice groove to ride through most of the corners. The sand pit was tamped down, but still slick. The run up was a leg sapper, as usual, and my Medium Horst Spikes Cross Spikes gave me great traction. Our son used Mini Standard Horst Spikes in his size 2 shoes.
I had a fantastic race. My fitness is coming around, as I expected it would. The three-week break from racing was just what my legs needed. I was tired after doing six races in 12 days, but those efforts are paying dividends now. I finished third in the Masters 45+ field. All of the Masters racers started together (mass start) but they scored the 35+, 45+, and 55+ riders separately. I rode another clean race and feel like I could have gone even harder, but the technical nature of the course (lots of turns) kept me from going much faster. My skills are getting better, but they still have a long way to go.
I had fun battling with Dan Coady, who finished a few spots in front of me and got third in the 35+ field. I was in the top 10 overall for Masters, and maybe as high as seventh, but the results weren’t posted. I scored a bag of coffee from a race sponsor, which I’ll give away because I stick to tea. Even still, I was very happy to race and the Wicked Creepy and NYCROSS volunteers do a great job. After Cheshire, where there were no less than 11 Team Horst racers and at least five teammates spectating, only two of us made it to Vermont today. I was joined by Paul Nyberg, who was in the 55+ field.
Willow Park is a great venue. There are two fabulous playgrounds. The views are wonderful. The BMX track is awesome. You can’t beat this spot for cyclocross.
The drive home was a lot better, though the rain arrived while we were having an early supper at one of our favorite restaurants, Hearty Eats, in Shelburne Falls. When we visit Shelburne Falls, we always park next to the Bridge of Flowers. After dinner, we visited Molly Cantor Pottery, which is right next door. They have some beautiful stuff from local artisans. We got home at 6:15 P.M., after a 12+ hour day on the road. It was a great weekend.
Cheshire Cross Race Results (will be posted when available)
Wicked Creepy Cross Race Results (will be posted when available)