2016 March Farms CycloMadness

I’ve got soreness in muscles that I didn’t even know I had! Today’s March Farms Cyclocross was insane. We awoke to three inches of snow on the ground and by the end of my race at 11:15 A.M. there was more than six inches. It snowed steadily all morning and made for a treacherous drive to the Litchfield Hills. We took our time and got there well before the 9:30 A.M. Cub Juniors race.

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It snowed heavily during the kids race and for the first half of the Men’s Masters race, but by the end, freezing rain and rain were falling. Shepard, Sean, Cole, and the other Juniors who braved the elements deserve serious “cred” for their grit. It was cold, windy, and wet. This was the race to test Horst Spikes Ice & Snow Cross Spikes.

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The funniest moment of the day came in the Cub Juniors race when one not-so-happy cross racer promptly stopped his forward momentum and called out, “That’s it, I’m done,” and heaved his bicycle into the snow. His Mom, who was shadowing him on foot, said, “Oh no you don’t,” and prodded him to remount his steed. I couldn’t stop laughing. He finished.

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There was less riding in this “bicycle race” than any bicycle race in my career. I was forced to shoulder or push my Seven Mudhoney PRO for 90% of the 2.7 mile race. Can you believe that? In 34 minutes, I only averaged 4.8 mph “with a bicycle.” My heart rate averaged 174 and peaked at 184, so it was an all out effort.

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I was joined in the Masters race by Arthur Roti, Tom Ricardi, Paul Nyberg, and Matt Domnarski. We looked shell-shocked after the finish. Our pit bikes were covered in a layer of frozen ice. It was nearly impossible to clip into your pedals. The pedals springs were frozen shut and giant snowballs collected on the bottom of our feet. We had to repeatedly bang them against our pedals to knock off the snow and ice.

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On several of the descents, I was able to get enough connection with my pedals to ride for 20 or 30 seconds at a time before being forced to run again. March Farm is the most hilly race in the CT Series of CX, but conditions were much different compared with last year’s race. Last year, I wore shorts.

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I ended up third in the 40+ field, but it didn’t matter. Everyone who raced was a champion today. Stan Lezon got the best of me. I guess you could say that I got “dropped on the last lap.” Of course, there were only two laps. A third would have been a death march. We gained nearly 500 feet on the undulating course, and the climbing was ALL on foot. The downhills were hair-raising. A few times, I wasn’t clipped in at all and was just hanging on for dear life as I coasted to the bottom before getting off to run again.

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Today, the best strategy was to make sure you were dressed warm enough and to have a lightweight bike. The running was awkward. The footing was difficult, uneven, and slippery. Cyclocross is run in all conditions, and deep snow is no exception. I’m hoping for some wild weather at next month’s USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship at Riverside Park in Hartford, but not this wild.

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The crew at March Farms did a great job despite the challenging conditions. The volunteers and officials also had to brave the conditions. They had a great bonfire, a warming tent, and even a mobile “pub.” Sadly, I wasn’t in the mood for a beer, but we did stop at the farm store before heading home. We showed our support by doing some Christmas shopping.

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We have to do it all over again tomorrow. The gear is drying. The bikes are still in the trailer. The temperature is supposed to rise overnight and the Elm City Cyclocross in New Haven is going to be a messy affair.

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Race Results (will be posted when online)

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