2017 NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross

This weekend’s NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross was another fantastic adventure with family and friends. This was the final two races of the Northeast Cyclocross Series, and signals that the New England season is winding down.

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All that remains are the CT Series of CX finals at Elm City CX on 19 December in New Haven, and a smattering of other local races in Massachusetts over the new few weeks. A lot of riders will hang up their wheels after NBX.

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I didn’t leave anything in the tank after my efforts in the Masters 40+/Juniors 16-18 (combo) races yesterday and today. I was empty yesterday, but somehow rallied to push through another tough race today. I didn’t have good legs either day, but persevered. Today, I was literally cross-eyed as I pushed to limit my losses after a costly series of early race mistakes.

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One of the great challenges of cyclocross is executing a “clean race.” Even if you have the best legs, you can give up a lot of time with a bad start, poor bike handling, and mechanical issues. Fortunately, other than a bent brake lever or two, my mechanicals were minor. The very rooty and unforgiving Goddard Memorial State Park course is very hard on bicycles. There were lots of punctures, broken wheels, and broken bicycle frame. It was carnage for some folks. My legs weren’t good, so that meant that my self-inflicted mistakes had even greater consequences.

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My pain came from not having my A-game bike handling skills on a tough course that had a lot of mountain bike features. There were lots of loose sandy corners, lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and lots of roots.

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This Warwick, Rhode Island seaside park and race course is one of my favorites, but it doesn’t suit my strengths, but it does have features that make me a better bike racer. This race will always be special since it was one of my first ever cross races back in 1995. I’ve done it many times over the years, but not since 2013. It always falls on the first weekend of December, which coincides with a holiday party that Debbie and I have attended every year since 2003. This year, the party was in Woodstock, Connecticut, so I was able to squeeze that in between Day 1 and Day 2.

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We had a great turnout from Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad. Shepard did the Juniors 9-14 year old races and had a good time with his teammates. We have watched our Junior Squad improve in so many ways since those early season races back in September. Thankfully, the weather was dry. It was cold, but tolerable. In addition to the junior race, we had good representation in the Masters 50+ race, and of course, in the Masters 40+.

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Yesterday turned out to be the better of my two races. I think the long beach run favored me, as did the extra few uphills. Today, there was less running and my legs were just blown, probably from racing yesterday, and dancing last night. There were some dance instructors at the party, and I actually learned both the Salsa and the Merengue, so all is not lost.

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Today, I had a rough start, recovered almost all the places I lost, and then promptly gave them back when I went down on a steep uphill and got my bike hopelessly tangled with another rider’s. We had to calm down and get them unhooked before jumping on and chasing the 15 or so guys that got by us. The trouble with losing time early in a race like this, is you can ride your butt off for the remainder of the race, turning laps even with the same guys that passed you, but still never make up the time. When you are flat-out, going 100%, you just can’t accelerate from there. One bright spot was the last lap of today’s race. I buried myself to make up ground. I caught up to teammate Arthur Roti, and felt bad passing him, but I was just giving it my all. If I rode that pace for the whole race, things would have been better, but I proved to myself that I could suffer.

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In the end, I was very happy with the race weekend. Having such a great team is a fantastic boost. The kids are loving the racing. This race has a great vibe. It’s even worth noting that Goddard Park is beautiful. The park has lovely stonework, including the infamous stone steps that we have to run up.

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I’m going to enjoy the recovery over the next few weeks. I’m going to skip racing next weekend and aim for a good day at Elm City. I’m working plans to be at the USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships in Reno, Nevada next month. Punishing my legs this weekend will pay dividends provided that I get the proper “rest” and stay fit over the next month.

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2

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