2018 NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross

We raced two days at the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross and they couldn’t have been more different. Day 1 was cold with brilliant sunshine, dry conditions, and lots of smiles. Day 2 was cold with incessant rain, gobs of mud, soupy puddles, and lots of grimaces.

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Shepard and I made a late decision to do both races. I had a meeting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday. The drive back on Friday afternoon took six hours and I got home around 8:00 P.M. It took some motivation to pack the van and trailer in anticipation of a 6:00 A.M. Saturday departure, but we got it done.

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Part of my decision to do both days at NBX was the forecast. Sunday was supposed to be very rainy and I didn’t want cross in a sandy quagmire to be my only race experience of the weekend. Saturday was supposed to be clear and sunny. Also, the early starts (Shep at 8:41 A.M. and me at 10:15 A.M.) meant we could drive back and forth to Goddard State Park in East Greenwich, Rhode Island (95 minutes from home) and be back early in the afternoon each day.

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The forecast for both days turned out as advertised. Saturday’s conditions were primo for cross with the technical NBX course in great shape. It rode super-fast and was lots of fun. Sunday’s conditions were insanely bad. At least that’s my opinion. I’m so tired of racing in the muck and I’m even more tired of cleaning up after racing in the muck. This wasn’t Supercross mud (which we skipped this year), or even Bishop’s Orchards mud (which was last Sunday’s mess), but this was sandy and gritty NBX mud.

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First, I’ll talk about yesterday’s race, which was a good one for me. Shep and I got there in time to preview parts of the course. It was an early start to the weekend, but we made it happen. I’ve had so much going on at work that I was thankful to get outside on a sunny day and make the most of it. He had a good race in the Cub Juniors (9-14 year olds) and it was so much fun cheering for him. He was particular strong on the long beach run. He finished strong and was in good spirits.

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I was in the combined Masters 40+/Juniors 15-18 race which was similar to Gloucester and Northampton. At NBX in prior years, including 2017, I limped to the finish. I was shot from a full season of cross. This year, I felt pretty good coming into the weekend. I had a good start and was able to move up a few groups over the first two laps. I hurt a bit on the second half of lap three and first half of lap four, before surging a bit towards the finish of the five lap event.

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We were flying around the circuit. I had a good battle with young Johnny Meyerle and ultimate got the best of him. Dan Coady, who I battled with at Bishop’s last week, took off on both of us and moved up several places on the last lap with a strong ride. I hung on and got 22nd in a strong field. Six of the riders in front of me were the Juniors. They are super-strong.

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On Saturday, we were home by 2:00 P.M, and cleaned up by 2:30 P.M. I did some work, and then Debbie, Dahlia, Shepard, and I went out to get our Christmas tree. This was a fortuitous decision given the dry conditions. We had a relaxing evening getting it set up.

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Today was another race day and another 5:15 A.M. wake-up call. We were out of the house by 6:00 P.M. and met up with Juan and Nic Villamizar at the Bolton Post Office. Juan took the day off from crewing and spectating and we took Nic with us so he could meet up with the rest of the CCAP travel team.

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The big difference between Saturday and Sunday was that it rained all night and continued to rain all day. The precipitation turned the NBX course into a quagmire…in spots. Certain areas had six inches of soupy muck and lots of ruts. The course is known for its roots, and they were hidden in the mud, and very slippery. The short and steep climbs were super challenging and forced me to run them at times.

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Shepard had a decent race, but like me, he isn’t as strong in the rough conditions. Both of us would rather ride with confidence, and the slippery conditions didn’t permit that. The course was in decent shape for his race, the second of the day. However, our race was the  fourth of the day and the prior fields had pummeled the course, churning it into the chunky soup. I did fine in the sandy sections, and even the rooty sections, but I was losing ground in the worst of the muddy sections and on the steep climbs and descents.

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Johnny and Nic both beat me today. Dan caught me with two laps to go and I gave chase, but came up short. He seemed to enjoy the conditions, but I told him that I was fed up with the mud. I was as disappointed with the impending cleanup as I was with my results. I didn’t feel on top of my game today. I just don’t feel comfortable taking the same chances when the conditions are so harsh. I have no desire to fall, so I was thrilled that I stayed on my bike.

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The post-race changing session was hilarious. After hosing off my bikes, I changed at the van. My feet were frozen solid. All of my socks were wet and I forgot to bring a pair of dry casual socks, so I tried to put my muck boots on with bare feet. It simply didn’t work. I couldn’t get them on despite trying three times over a 20 minute span. Between efforts, I sat with the van running and my feet on the dashboard heaters with the temperature and fan cranked to the max. My attempt to thaw them didn’t work.

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In order to pack our four bikes in the trailer, I put a pair of my cycling shoes back on to finish the outside job. Then, I drove home barefoot. We were home by 2:00 P.M. and my feet were in better shape. It took an hour to clean-up and as of the writing of this blog post, I still have to give our bikes a second washing. We will also need to lubricate our chains. I’m getting tired of the maintenance. Shep’s cross season ended today and the current plan is for me to race the Zanconato Singlespeed Championships at the Ice Weasels Cometh next weekend. The advanced forecast looks like cold and dry. As long as it doesn’t rain, I’ll be there. It it is wet, then it will be a game time decision.

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Today was my 18th race of the season and 18th since breaking my leg in January at Nats in Reno. We opted not to go to Louisville for the second Nats of 2018. It’s been a nice comeback and I’ve enjoyed traveling and racing with Shepard, the Team Horst Junior Squad, and Team Horst Sports. I’m looking forward to the “offseason.”

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2

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Great fun at today’s @minutemanrdclub #Cyclocross in Lancaster, MA. @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad @zanksscx @the_ccap
Great day at the #vermont50 🚵‍♂️🍁
Good morning! 🚴🏽
I got to sample the fun activities at Boy Scouts @troop25ct Camp Kirkham. I slept under the amazing stars. We had a full agenda of geocaching, archery, cooking, disc golf, and paddling. I even squeezed in a run to the top of Silver Mountain where I had a 360 degree view. #boyscouts
It was great fun cheering for the Bolton Center School XC Team and their coach @trailrunningmom at The Panther Fest. Go Bulldogs! #crosscountry #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏿
#carfreecommute #wickhampark
It’s easy to love the infamous water (muck) crossing at the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race). We felt like sea monsters! I can’t believe how out of breath I was after fetching my camera at the finish and running the 1/4 mile back to catch @trailrunningmom and Shepard make their crossings. Either hey are getting faster or I am getting slower! Maybe more swim-run is in our future. 🏊🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️ #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #blueblazedtrail #trailrunning
Good fun kicking off the 2019 #cyclocross season at the #QuadCross It was also the launch of the 2019 @zanksscx which is my prime CX objective. #crossisboss @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #sevencycles
Yesterday’s late afternoon ride was fantastic. The #hoprivertrail to #airlinetrail to #charteroakgreenway is now my favorite loop. The natural beauty that starts right out my front door is proof that #connecticut trails are VERY underrated. I even got to share several miles with @pearljam09 #railtrail @eastcoastgreenway #eastcoastgreenway #bicycle #sevencycles #evergreening

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