2017 Gran Prix of Gloucester

We had a spectacular weekend at the 2017 Gran Prix of Gloucester cyclocross race in Massachusetts. “We” is Shepard and me, plus the rest of Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad.

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The last time I raced Gloucester was in 2007. Pretty much every year for the last 10 years, this New England classic has conflicted with the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run. With cyclocross schedule changes, the event was moved to mid-October from its historical late-September date. I was happy to return for many reasons.

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I love the North Shore and Cape Ann. Sterling Machine is in Lynn, so I’m on the North Shore several times a month. The seaside Stage Fort Park course is picturesque and fantastic. The expo brought out some great sponsors and cycling industry stalwarts. The robust race fields (848 riders competed on Saturday and 787 competed on Sunday) prove this event’s popularity. In addition to the fields being deep, they are incredibly strong with the best showing up to do battle. The Elite Men’s and Women’s races featured some of the strongest riders in Northeast, with a few national pros and Canadians mixed in. Also, there are more spectators than any other cross race in the region. The beer garden was packed. This is what I like to call: The “New England World Championships.” I’m not talking Belgian-sized crowds, but if you ever want to spectate at a “local” cross race, pencil this one into your calendar.

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Our Masters team was well represented with Art Roti, Wade Summers, John Meyerle and me in the joint Masters 40+ Category 1/2/3 & Junior 17-18 year old field. Brett Chenail did the Masters 40+ Category 4/5 races. Dave Geissert and Keith Enderle did the Masters 50+ Category 1/2/3 races. All of us raced both Saturday and Sunday.

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The Junior Squad also had a good turnout. Shepard raced in the Juniors 9-14 old category and was joined by Sean Rourke, Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, and Nate Summers on Saturday. Those boys plus Ethan Lezon and Owen Lezon raced on Sunday.

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Day 1 (Saturday)

Yesterday’s course was a leg burner, with several long and exposed sections. The morning races were rainy and the corners were slick. Shepard and the boys did well. They were all smiles. He was very happy with how his race went. The course remained damp during my race, which started at 11:30 A.M. with light rain falling. My only mishap was on the first lap when running the one rocky run-up, I slipped and planted my left knee and elbow on a sharp stone. The knee took the brunt of the fall and might have earned me “best blood” if they had such a category.

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I started well back in the sixth row (eight riders to a row) on the grid, but moved my way up and finished  39th in a stacked field. The first seven spots were taken by the Junior boys, which is amazing. They are getting faster and faster, and the top 40-49 year old racers didn’t have a chance against them. Matt Timmerman, the national champion in our age group, was the top 40+ year old male, all the way back in 8th spot. I felt good about my race, but was knackered by the finish.

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After the race, Art and I did a long cool down, riding northeast, along the coast. We had spectacular views despite a few rain showers. The boys played all over Stage Fort Park and we watched the rest of the afternoon races. The view from atop the large rock, an iconic spot in the park, is awesome. You can see more than half the course from that one spot. The Elite racing was intense and enjoyable.

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Day 2 (Sunday)

We spent the night at one of my usual business oriented hotels on. Route 1 in Danvers, so it was only a 25 minute drive to the venue. The day dawned foggy and damp. The Gloucester weather was changeable, with intermittent sun and clouds and a stiff ocean breeze. It misted a bit in the early morning races, but then the course dried out and it became less humid as the day went on. By the time I raced, the course was bone dry and very dusty. Dust and above average temperatures have been the story of this cyclocross season. I’m waiting for some cold, which is what I prefer. I’m sure its a matter of if, not when.

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The Junior boys raced again at 9:31 A.M. and the Masters 40+ men were at 11:30 A.M. like yesterday. The course was altered slightly with several new sections and several sections removed. The run-up was different, but just as challenging. There were fewer long power sections, and there were several added technical sections. This made for a shorter lap. Some folks termed it “mountain bikey.” I did think that the loose sand and lots of transitions were pretty gnarly. It was a lot of fun, but I guess I preferred yesterday’s course better because it favored me more.

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I gave it my all today. The 17 and 18 year-olds dominated again, but the top masters rider was Alec Donahue, who bested Timmerman. By the third of six laps, I found myself in a group of six riders that included former national champion, Mark McCormack. At times the pace of the group slowed, so I decided to do my part to keep our gap to the group behind us, so I pulled for most of the last two laps. I felt good out front, but despite applying the pressure several times, wasn’t able to get away and create my own gap. Cognizant that I was going to get jumped on the last lap, I eased back into third spot in the final 1/3rd of the last lap.

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I was confident that I could beat all of them in a sprint, but I was unsure who was holding back. in the final few corners, I tried to make a move on the right side, but one of the riders pinched me in the final right hand turn before the road and I lost my momentum The first two riders, including McCormack, got a gap that they held to the line. I had to battle with the other four guys and two of them pipped me right before the finish. It was a frustrating way to end the race after I rode so well. I thought I had a chance to improve my position from yesterday’s race, but ended up 42nd.

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I’m just happy to be able to do this stuff. My heart rate was above Zone 4 the entire race and averaged 169 beats per minute for the 50 minute effort. I was even more toasted today, and I’ll need a few days to recover from these hard efforts. Chances are it won’t be another 10 years before I compete at Gloucester again.

 

Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

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#blackfriday didn’t start so badly! Great day at the #manchesterroadrace @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #silkcitystriders #teamhorstsports #thanksgiving 🏃🏻 If I always had the option to commute by train 🚂, I would take it. #multitasking 1h45m each way if uninterrupted productivity and NO driving. I even squeezed in a lap of #centralpark with Tim. 🏃🏻#manhattan #newyork Fir @john.meyerle because I neglected to post earlier: @supercross_cup This video is the Cat 4/5 Men. Great start for @the_ccap boys Nick and Johnny. #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Another great day at the @supercross_cup The #teamhorstjuniorsquad did great on the tricky and challenging course that was left muddy by overnight rain. The wind was fierce. The Junior 9-14 year olds did battle with the Category 4/5 Women. #teamhorstsports @vittoriaseries #supercrosscx #supercrosscup #horstengineering @horsteng #crossspikes #cyclocross Good morning from the windy @supercross_cup The overnight wind destroyed many a tent. It’s supposed to get windier. The rain has turned the course to muck. It’s going to be off-camber insanity. Myles Mattern is warming up for the Juniors 9-14 year old Race and showing how it’s done. Second video is the Cat 4/5 Men. Great start for @the_ccap boys Nick and Johnny. #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Suffering in Suffern!! @supercross_cup Day 1 #supercrosscup #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #horstengineering @horsteng @vittoriaseries #teamhorstjuniorsquad ☔️🚴🏽 Another great day at the @nohocx Day was marginally warmer, but the racing was even more intense. Even the Cub Juniors were throwing down! #teamhorstjuniorsquad #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #horstengineering #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross #nohocx @lutzmuseum Children’s #Poetry Night. Little D wrote and recited. A welcome Friday night arts and culture moment before a (cold) weekend full of intense #cyclocross racing! #lutzmuseum 📚 🚲

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