The venerable Supercross Cup had another venue change after moving from the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area course inside Harriman State Park. I did the 2015 Supercross, and loved the course, so I was sad to see the change for 2016.
Even still, we had a great day today at the new venue, Rockland Community College (SUNY), in Suffern, New York. We had no idea what to expect of the course when we arrived early this morning, and we were surprised at how challenging it turned out to be.
The Cub Junior 9-14 year olds went off at 8:45 A.M., and it was already unseasonably warm. The weather turned out to be weirdly spectacular for late November, with the temperature peaking in the low 60’s Fahrenheit. The sunshine was brilliant in a cloudless sky. We raced in shorts and short-sleeves, which was awesome.
The other thing that kept us warm was the climbing. There was lots of climbing! The Supercross course was the hilliest of the year, with more than 220 feet per lap of elevation gain. It was a simple course, without much for technical features, but the undulating course throughout the RCC campus required some serious leg strength.
Team Horst Sports had three juniors, and they did very well. Sean, Shepard, and Lars had a blast both racing and hanging out at the college. The Supercross crew did an amazing job. There was a natural pump track crafted from piles of asphalt/dirt, a man-made pump track (compliments of the folks at Clif Bar), a bounce house, a food truck festival, and several vendors. The infield of the RCC track was full of action. The cyclocross course wound its way around the campus with the track in the center, making spectating lots of fun.
My son did three laps over the course of 40 minutes, which was quite a workout. He stayed on the lead lap and got to do a nice post-race interview with Frankie Andreu, who was our race announcer. That was a pleasant surprise. I’ve always been an Andreu fan, ever since I watched him nearly win the final stage of the 1994 Le Tour de France on the Champs Élysées. He came so close, but got beat in the sprint after driving a rare final stage breakaway. Anyway, he had a good pro cycling career and it was fun to have him on the microphone today.
The ground was a bit wet in the morning, so the early races had some greasy corners that made it a bit challenging for some riders. The afternoon races were a far dustier affair, as the warm sun and a light breeze dried the fields.
The Men’s Masters 45+ and 55+ races were immediately after the Cub Juniors and Cat 4 Women (who shared the course together). Dave Geissert and Keith Enderle represented our team in the 55’s. Arthur Roti, Wade Summers, and I were in the 45+ field.
I had another fantastic race. I capitalized on my second row call-up, and had a super start, avoiding several serious crashes, including one on the gravel lined start/finish chute, just seconds into the race. Crazily, it was guys from first three rows that were wrecking. The nervousness continued throughout the first lap, as several other riders wiped out in slick corners. On multiple occasions, I had to dodge downed riders.
Eventually, I settled into a nice rhythm and after two laps, I was battling a group of four riders for the fifth spot. With three to go, I was sitting fifth, but I realized that I was already deep into the red on the unrelenting course. There was one running section over a set of stairs (and many riders rode them) and one set of barriers. The rest of the race was up and down the green campus hills with several off-camber sections. Some of the hills required little ring climbing, which isn’t common in Northeast USA cyclocross race. I liked it.
My group didn’t stay together for long. Guys ended up attacking each other throughout the third lap, and I had to back off a bit in an attempt to stay upright and aerobic. By the end of the lap, I had slipped back to seventh. Between laps four and five, I slipped back a bit further, and ultimately finished ninth. That is still a good result. On the last lap, when I realized I wasn’t going to close the gap to the rider in front of me, and I wasn’t in danger of getting caught, I backed off in an effort to save some energy for tomorrow’s race.
After the race, we hung out and visited with friends, and then we watched the entire Elite Women’s race and the first half of the Elite Men’s race. It was a blast. The Supercross Cup will continue on Sunday and the weather looks to be a lot worse, with overnight rain, much colder temperatures, and a chance of snow. We will see what tomorrow brings.