Shepard and I closed out the long Thanksgiving Weekend with one more race, the NECX BAR Finals Cyclocross in Fitchburg, MA. This is probably my least favorite course, but I’ve now done the race three years in a row because with cross season waning, you can’t race too much!
I’ve actually got the next few weekends off from racing, so I also wanted to race hard one more time before a period of rest. My legs were pretty hammered from Thursday’s Manchester Road Race, which went well for both Shepard and me.
I also made a tactical error before the race even started. I missed pre-registration on Friday night by an hour and was forced to register this morning at the race. That cost me a front row start. Instead, I was in the last row behind 35 other guys. That hurt my chances. I fought way through the field on a flat and fast course that wasn’t good for passing.
It was cold and windy, which made for group racing. You had to work together in small groups to stay out of the wind. Drafting was a huge factor. I was in a good group that included rival Keith Burgoyne, but I kept getting gapped off the back, and ultimately, when that group blew apart on the last lap, I couldn’t hang on.
Jeremy Brazeal worked very hard to bridge up to me, so during the last lap, we exchanged spots a few times, which made the racing fun. It was better than being hung out in the wind. I was able to make a move on him before the technical final section of the course, and hold my spot.
I was joined in the Masters 40+ field by teammates Wade Summers and Eric Fleming. It was great to see Eric on the cross bike. He is one of my original Team Horst Sports mates from the late-1990’s. We spent a lot of time together and drove to a lot of road races and criteriums as a duo. I was even present when first connected with Julie, his spouse.
Randall Dutton was our lone teammate in the Masters 4/5 race. Will Kirousis, another original Horst Engineering Cycling Team mate, visiting to watch the race with his two kids. It was great to see Will. Fitchburg isn’t far from his home. Will is a successful coach and helped me with training for my first few Ironman triathlons.
The race schedule was a bit jumbled, with the Masters 50+ and 60+ races starting earlier. We were represented in the 50+ by Matt Domanarski and Tom Ricardi. Matt rode a valiant race to stay in the front group of five, but couldn’t stick it on the last lap, and finished 4th in the sprint. He has had a fine season.
Shepard was joined in the 8:00 A.M. (first race of the day) Cub Juniors 9-14 year old field by Sean Rourke and Gabrielle Fleming. They all had fun. It’s been awesome to see the kids competing, getting better, and enjoying this cool sport.