2017 Northampton International Cyclocross

We just wrapped up a hard weekend of racing at the 27th annual Northampton International Cyclocross in Massachusetts. This was the second back to back race weekend in the row. This was the second round of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series. The third round is next weekend, another double race weekend at the Supercross Cup in Rockland County, New York.

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Day 1

We drove up early in the morning to get to the Junior Boys and Girls 9-14 year old race. They were the second race of the day. Originally scheduled for 8:45 A.M., all of the races were pushed back 30  minutes because of the frigid temperatures. That helped us out because we drove from Bolton. It also helped the course soften up, a bit. Even still, the kids were frozen solid after 30 minutes on the Look Park course.

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The Team Horst Junior Squad was well represented. In addition to our son, Shepard, the field included Sean Rourke, Boden, Chenail, and Cole Ricardi. All of the boys had good races on the fast course.

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In the Masters 50+ race later in the morning, Team Horst Sports was represented by Dave Geissert, Keith Enderle, and Tom Ricardi. All three men rode strongly in the field of talented veteran racers.

I did the Masters 40+ race, which was combined with the 15-18 year old Juniors. This made for a very strong field. It was one of the most talented line-ups of the year. I had a good race, though it could have been better. I felt strong for a Saturday race, and after a good start, I pushed really hard. I was so close to breaking the Top 20, but couldn’t close the gap to a group of six riders who took places 15-21. I was pushing so hard on the last lap and felt like I was going to close the gap.

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I had attacked fellow Master Brian Girard and Junior Tommy Servetas and gotten a nice gap. It looked like I had a chance at getting on to the back of the group that was up ahead. I was counting the seconds and the gap to the last rider was between five and eight seconds. However, when I came into the fast twisty ball field section that had some muddy corners, I was definitely at my limit. I was taking a sharp right hand turn in the mud and cut it too close. My right shift/brake lever hooked a course stake and it jerked my handlebars to the right, which swept out my front wheel and sent me sliding in the mud. I had untangle my bike from the course tape, and get going again.

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In the process, Brian and Tommy shot past me. I worked hard for the rest of the lap to catch back up to them. There was no chance that we would catch the group in front of us, so I focused on staying with them. After I reconnected with Brian and Tommy, I went to the front and pulled them along. In the wide open field section that led to the finish, Tommy went past me and I grabbed his wheel to stay out of the wind. He led me into the last corner and then I came around him. It looked like I was going to take the sprint from them, but I didn’t shift up into a hard enough gear and Brian came up on my right and pipped me on the line. It was a photo finish. I was disappointed in my crash and then bummed about getting beat on the line, but 23rd was still a fantastic result.

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I was joined in the 40+ race by teammates Art Roti, Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Andris Skulte, and Brett Chenail. They all had fun on the classic course. We all went for a cool down on the rail trail and exchanged stories about our race. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon watching the rest of the races, including the kids race. Horst Engineering had two tents in the Race Expo and we met a lot of Cross Spikes™ customers.

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There was some great racing in the Elite Women and Elite Men’s races. The Juniors explored every corner of Look Park. Afterwards, several of us went to dinner in Northampton, before retiring for the night. Debbie, the kids, and I stayed at a local motel, which saved us the drive back to Bolton and set us up for a short commute this morning.

Day 2

Sunday was quite a bit warmer than Saturday. It was still a lot colder than it has been this fall, but it was better than yesterday. The race schedule was not altered, so the Cub Juniors went off at the scheduled 8:45 A.M. The course was reversed for Sunday’s races and it had a few more technical features, including a steeper run-up and a very steep (and gnarly) descent.

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Sean, Shepard, and Boden had good races. They were joined in the Junior 9-14 year old race by Team Horst Junior Squad members Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, and Ethan Lezon; who didn’t race on Saturday, but came out to battle on Sunday. The kids did great. It’s so much fun to watch them having fun before, during, and after the races. Look Park is such a great venue.

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Only Dave and Keith raced the 50+ race for us on Sunday. They improved on their Saturday results. Art, Wade, John, Brett, and I returned to do the 40+/15-18 Juniors on Sunday. I had a terrible start. 50 meters after the whistle blew, in an all out sprint, I “blew out” of both pedals. I’m not sure what happened, but I unclipped from both simultaneously, which resulted in my falling to my top tube. I nearly lost control of my bike, and came to a dead stop before getting my feet back on my pedals.

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More than 20 riders got past me, which was a real bummer. I lost more ground throughout the first lap as I pushed to make up ground. My heart rate skyrocketed and I was “all over my bike,” which means that I was not handling it well. Several other times, I was forced to get off my bike and navigate around downed riders. Being at the back of the field is a real disadvantage. I could have quit, and thought about it for a split second, before reminding myself that this is how some races go. I had an opportunity to recover from a bad start and still have a good race.

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Art had a strong start, so I marked him for most of the first lap, as I picked off one rider after another. Eventually, I settled down, got my heart rate under control, and started moving up through the field. Things opened up a bit more for me on lap two and I put on a huge charge, eventually passing another 15 riders between laps two and four. One of those riders was my friend and “nemesis,” Stan Lezon, who I always race hard. I was definitely exhausted from all of the effort, and nearly got into the top 30 with two laps to go, but on the steep technical descent, I took a bad line, grabbed too much brake, and went “cartwheeling” down the hill. I got some applause from spectators and compliments from Sean Goguen and Jaymz Lipinski, the two Junior riders who I was battling with.

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I had just passed Sean and Jaymz and was ready to put on one more charge, but the crash set me back. I had to work hard just to get back to them and I never made it. I stayed in front of the group behind me, but over the last half lap, I spent way too much time in the wind on my own. I didn’t get caught, and ended up 33rd, 10 spots behind yesterday. Tommy and Brian, my two foes from Saturday finished 17th and 25th respectively, so I was disappointed with my result, but still happy that I didn’t quit and made up a lot of ground after my awful start. What could have been!

I’ll get another shot at a clean race next weekend in New York. We hung out for most of the afternoon. It warmed up a bit under a strong (for November) sun. My Dad drove up to say hello, which was pretty cool. We had more Cross Spikes™  customers come by the tent. It took a while to pack everything up, but we were on the road by 3:00 P.M. This race deserves the attention it gets as the longest continuously running event in New England. Adam Myserson, Alec Donahue, J.D. Bilodeau, and all of their volunteers and crew hosted another excellent event.

The muddy course left me with a muddy bike, so when we got home tonight, Shepard and I cleaned our bikes. It’s always nice to go to bed knowing that you have a clean bike.

Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

1 Response to “2017 Northampton International Cyclocross”



  1. 1 2017 Supercross Cup | Life Adventures Trackback on 19 November 2017 at 6:52 pm

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