2017 Hartford Riverfront Cyclocross

Yesterday was the Hartford Riverfront Cyclocross, which kicked off the cross season for me and many other members of Team Horst Sports. Some of the guys got started two weeks ago at the CompEdge Cross at Blunt Park, and others started last weekend at the BCA Cyclocross. Yesterday, we seven Juniors racers and nine Masters racers toe the line.

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The last time most of us raced in Hartford’s Riverside Park, was at the 2017 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships back in January. That was an amazing event. Check out my recap. The weather conditions at yesterday’s race were much different. We had a beautiful late summer day that started out cool and then warmed up with bright sunshine and puffy clouds dotting a lovely blue sky.

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The roots of the Riverfront Cross (and Nationals) go back to 2003, when our team hosted the inaugural Connecticut Riverfront Cyclocross. Horst Engineering is on the opposite side of the river from the park, and only a 1/2 mile or so, as the crow flies; so I know this venue well. It was good to shake off the cobwebs since my last cross race, in this park, nine months ago.

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If something could go wrong, it did go wrong. I was late to prep my bikes for the event and was forced to take a pit bike that had road tires on it. My primary bike, a Seven Mudhoney Pro, was in pretty good shape, after a disc brake upgrade (TRP Hy/Rd) at our team shop, Bicycles East, in nearby Glastonbury. It was also Shepard’s first cross race since Nats, and he was pumped to be joining his Team Horst Junior Squad mates in the 9-12 year old Cub Juniors race.

We got to the park with just enough time to pre-ride part of the course, but three minutes into a lap, I heard a loud “CRACK” as I was slowly turning around a hairpin. It appeared that I broke a spoke, but I know that sound, and it was louder than that. I stopped to investigate and saw two spokes dangling, but oddly, they still had their heads. That’s when I realized that my Zipp hub had a catastrophic failure. The hub flange fracture and a chunk of it was missing, which is why two spokes were dangling from the 303 rim.

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Our pre-ride was cut short. Thankfully, my teammates took care of Shepard and got him started while I returned home to fetch a spare wheel that was compatible and had knobby tires mounted on it. I made it back in time to catch the end of the Juniors race, and fortunately, the wheel and its brake rotor, fit my brake calipers OK.

I was a little out of sorts by the time my 40+ race started, but two laps in, I had settled down and was comfortably in the top 10. On the third lap, as I was making my way across the off-camber turn by the gazebo, my rear wheel locked up. This was a result of my rear tubular rolling off the rim and getting jammed between the chain stay and my wheel. Game over…sort of. I was 600 meters or so from the pit, but I shouldered my bike and ran all the way there. Most of the guys in my race passed me while I was running. It was unfortunate, but I grabbed my Seven Tsunami, with the road wheels and tires, and did my best to chase over the next four laps. I actually lost more ground, and was pulled with one lap to go.

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It was a weak start to the season, but hopefully after I get my bikes back in working order, I’ll be able to better my result. I was hoping for a good race, but it wasn’t to be. Shepard had a very good race. So did his Junior Squad teammates. Also, many of the guys on Team Horst Sports had good races, especially Mike Wonderly, who won the 50+ race.

Another reason why I’m pumped for cross season, is the growth of Horst Engineering’s Cross Spikes product line. We have great momentum to build from after Nats was in our backyard. We have several new ambassadors and other projects in the works.

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I dropped my Zipp wheel off at Bicycles East and will figure out what to ride for Wednesday’s CCAP Rocky Hill CX Training Series race. I don’t have a real cross race until a week from Wednesday at the Midnight Ride of CX. I talked about my bad day with Shepard and explained how mechanicals are part of the sport. That’s bike racing!

Race Results

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Fantastic run and bike involving an end-to-end trip on the @ctforestandparkassociation #quinnipiactrail with @trailrunningmom We visited a bunch of conserved forest land including #sleepinggiantstatepark and we rode the Farmington Canal rail trail. #shenipsitstriders @horstcycling #teamhorstsports #trailrunning #cycling 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🚴🏽
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