2019 West Hill Shop Cyclocross

It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t been to the West Hill Shop Cyclocross since 2015. This was the 29th annual race in Putney, Vermont and it was my 13th time doing it. It’s one of my absolute favorite all time events and I was trilled to spend the day with Shepard. Most of our Team HORST Sports and CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad teammates were at Supercross Cup in New York. After several years attending that event, we decided to skip. We heard the rest of the team had a blast, though we were happy for a day trip and we were happy to visit Vermont.



It was a long and cold day. We left the house at 6:15 A.M. and didn’t get home until 6:30 P.M. after making the drive north. The challenge is that when Shepard races the Cub Juniors and I race the Singlespeed, they are usually the first race of the day and the last race of the day. When we arrived, it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit and that isn’t the most fun temperature to ride in. By the early afternoon, the mercury had climbed into the mid-30’s but then by the time the singlespeed race started at 3:15 P.M., the sun was already low in the sky and the temperature was falling again.



What made today special was that Shepard did the two-lap (15 minute) junior race and then he joined me for the multiple lap (five or six? over 45 minutes) Zanconato Singlespeed Cyclocross Series race. The last race was the largest field of the day because it was also combined with the Men’s Category 3/4 race.



It was great to some old friends. Craig Damaschi drove up from Connecticut. He and I went to East Catholic High School together and raced on the cross-country team. We were teammates on the 1989 State Championship squad that I wrote about a few weeks ago. When I met Craig in 1986, I had already started mountain biking, but he was my introduction to road cycling, which led to bicycle racing and eventually cyclocross. He was steeped in European cycling tradition. His Italian heritage was a huge factor. He had stacks of old Winning magazines and was a Velo News subscriber too. He and I spent hours riding and talking about riding. It’s great to see him back on a bike and pushing hard in cyclocross.


Everything about this race is classic New England grassroots cross. The bike shop itself is a big part of what makes the race (or any event held there) special. The shop has lots of character. The entire town of Putney is neat and we love it there. We are members of the Putney Co-Op and that is where Shepard and I enjoyed lunch. It was only a short ride up the street from the bike shop.



On the way back to the race venue, we stopped at another awesome local business, the Green Mountain Spinnery,  which is adjacent to the bike shop. He was wondering what was inside, so I said, “It’s open, let’s go take a look.” We have been there several times, but he didn’t remember because the last time was 10 years ago. For many years, Debbie and I went on the post-Thanksgiving Putney Craft Tour which often featured the spinnery. We haven’t gone in 10 years, but I wrote about the 2009 version. The spinnery hasn’t changed at all and he was thrilled when we were offered an impromptu tour. The old equipment is fascinating.IMG_5559IMG_5561

I left him to hang out at the bike shop and I went for a substantial warmup. I took the freshly paved Westminster Road out to the town line and back. It’s normally beautiful and on this late fall day it was lovely. The long warmup helped and I had a good race. My start was fantastic as I was in 4th for the first 1/4 lap, but I blew a turn on a very slick corner and drove my left knee into the ground. I recovered and only lost three spots, but that forced me to chase. It was unfortunate but that sketchy corner caught more than one rider off guard.


I eventually settled into a group of three that was battling for 5th place. Anthony Vecca, Henry Lord, and I traded places throughout the race. Anthony had 10 seconds on us at one point but Henry put in a surge and I stuck with him. We eventually closed in on AV, and I thought I was the strongest going into the last lap. On the lower section of the course (which was different from when I last did it–I liked it, especially the numerous twists and turns) I pushed to the front and we fought hard on the double run-up.


As we approached the final few turns, I sprinted past them to take the lead figuring it was my best shot to get to the finish line ahead of them. I didn’t think anyone could come by me on the fast final straight, but AV did and I was bummed. After we crossed the line and I cursed, he said, “You deserved that.” I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring too as we were racing cleanly, but then I figured it was “payback” from the 2018 West Rock Superprestige MTB Final (also singlespeed) when I beat him by mere seconds in a last lap surge. I think that demoralized him, so I guess he is right. He got me back today.



Shepard rode well. It was his longest ever CX race and also the first time he raced twice in a day. Racing with the adults is going to make him faster. He said that he was good for three laps and then he bonked. Yesterday, he was outside in the cold with Boy Scouts Troop 25. They had an 8-mile hike. Today was another long day, so we have to make sure he recovers and stays healthy. After the race, I let him go into the shop where the wood stove was cranking. They also had a barrel fire going on the outside and it was a popular spot. While he warmed up, I packed the trailer and the van as the sun set. It was another great cyclocross weekend.


Race Results (will be posted when online)

1 Response to “2019 West Hill Shop Cyclocross”

  1. 1 A V 18 November 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Ha, ha. Yes sir, that was totally in reference to that West Rock sprint…and meant in good fun 🙂 The only thing not clean about yesterday’s race were those greasy corners. Can’t believe you recovered so quickly from that first lap double slip out you had. Congrats on a very strong race!

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