2017 Wicked Creepy Cross

I love the Wicked Creepy Cross. It’s one of my favorite grassroots races on the New England calendar. Today, we returned with the whole family. It required us to get up at 5:05 A.M. and leave the house at 5:35 A.M., but it was worth it!

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We drove to Bennington, Vermont in a driving rainstorm, but the precipitation lessened (a bit) when we got on the western side of the Green Mountains. It was still a beautiful drive. On the way home, it was all rain.

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This was the first real muddy race of the 2017 cyclocross season. It’s been unseasonably warm and dry. Today, it wasn’t too cold, but the wetness made for a challenging course, with several muddy sections. It wasn’t too cold, and it certainly wasn’t hot. It was sort of “hypothermia weather” if you were standing around.

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The Livingston’s were joined at the race by the Chenail Family and the Roti Family. The Team Horst Junior Squad and Team Horst Sports were well represented. The fields were small, but that’s OK. Everyone’s morale was boosted by the results. Debbie did her first ever cyclocross race. Her goal was to hold off Shepard, who started one minute behind her, in the Cub Juniors 9-12 year old race.

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The Junior Squad had a great day, with a podium sweep. Boden Chenail chased Shepard all race, and pipped him on the line for the win. It was a good lesson for Shepard, who was a bit surprised by Boden’s surge. Still, a great day. Lars Roti wasn’t far behind, and took the third step on the podium. They were all smiles after the race.

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Debbie battled hard to finish 4th in the Women’s Category 4/5 race. It isn’t normal for her to go anaerobic in a 30 minute +/- race, so this was good. She used her Seven Verve mountain bike, which wasn’t ideal, but worked fine. She plans to race again next week at Cheshire Cross. Look out!

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Brett Chenail rode the Men’s Category 4 race, which had one of the largest fields. They softened up the course prior to the Masters races. Art Roti and I represented the team in the 45+ field. We started with the 35+ riders, which for some reason, I didn’t know until after the finish. The 55+ Men started a minute behind us.

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Until the National Championships, this is one of the few races I do with a 45+ field. Normally, I have to race the 40+ category, and sometimes the 35+ category when no 40+ is offered. It was nice to be one of the “younger” guys in my race!

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I had a really good start, and led the first lap. On lap two,  Jürgen Beneke surged past me, which I was expecting when I saw his name on the start list. He has been winning local races all season, and was top 15 at the GP of Gloucester, where I finished in the 30’s. He has real cycling pedigree. He won the 1993 UCI World Cup in downhill mountain biking, and is an X-Games gold medalist in downhill mountain biking. He can handle his bike and it showed on today’s course.

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After he went by, I stayed in front of the other riders for nearly the entire race. I battled with Ryan Conley for five more laps. I led Ryan for almost the entire lap each time. He would pass me on the road section that led up the major climb, but I would re-pass him before or during the technical (and slippery) upper section. I was stronger in all of the technical turns, and had better acceleration out of the corners, but he closed down the gap every time when he had open field or open road.

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It was a little frustrating, so going into he last lap, I was committed to attacking him every chance I got. I didn’t want to risk a sprint because he was stronger in the final 200 meters after the steep and sandy run-up. There were a few other riders chasing, but we had a comfortable gap so we only had to worry about each other. I wanted second spot and gave it my all, but he closed in on me before the final slippery left hand turn on to the road. He jumped past me, but then I was able to rebound and close back in on him before I ran out of road. He nipped me on the line. I wasn’t happy, but I accepted my defeat and thought about Shepard, who experienced the same disappointment after leading the entire race. I told him to stay positive, so I told myself the same thing.

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There was a silver lining because when the results were posted, I still got 2nd in the 45+ race. Ryan was 1st in the 35+ race. I race everyone hard and still wanted to win that sprint, but we sort of both won on this day.  Jürgen was stronger than both of us and was out of site, so our real goal should be to close the gap to him. I’ll be back at it next week at Cheshire Cross.

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Everyone at Horst Engineering was happy to see mud for this weekend’s races. It was muddy in New England today, which meant both Wicked Creepy and also Orchard Cross, were gnarly. It was also muddy in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which hosted the Canadian National Championships. The same storm system also hit Ohio, and the Cincy CX Festival.  We expect Cross Spikes sales to pick up now!

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Kudos go out to the volunteers who hosted Wicked Creepy, and also to the folks at NYCROSS who put together the series. If we lived closer, we might do a few more races in the series. Of course, Connecticut has its own series and we do those races before any others.

Debbie, the kids, and I celebrated at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Race Results

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