2019 Secret Squirrel CX & Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross

Our four-day Thanksgiving Holiday weekend culminated with the Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross in Guilford, Connecticut. The penultimate event was yesterday at the Secret Squirrel CX in Raynham, Massachusetts. We proceeded those races with a low-key hike of Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, and a kicked off the weekend on Thanksgiving at the Manchester Road Race. IMG_0279

Bishop’s was a fitting end to the weekend as I did the last race of the day and the last race of the 2019 CT Series of CX as the snow was flying. It was a spectacular ending to this awesome little series. Last year’s Bishop’s was equally as epic as it took place after a heavy snowmelt and the course was waterlogged. Today, in the morning, the course was like tundra, but by early afternoon, the flakes were falling. By the time my race started at 2:30 P.M., the snow was falling heavily and it only intensified over the next hour as the Elite Men and Singlespeed (Men and Women) fought their way around the tough (and hilly) orchard course.


It was another long day of cyclocross for our family. Yesterday was just as long but I’ll come back to Secret Squirrel later in this post. As good as that race was, it can’t come close to today’s spectacle in Guilford, so that is where I will focus. It wasn’t just the weather that made today special. The race is part of our home state series and we had strong participation from Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad.



The kids have been the highlight of this CX season again. CCAP has done a remarkable job at building a cyclocross community and getting so many juniors involved. In addition to my son Shepard, our juniors included Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, Ethan Lezon, Sean Rourke, and Alexandra Miller-Davey. Our Masters racers included Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Brett Chenail, Rich Frisbie, Arthur Roti, and Andris Skulte. That was a wonderful turnout for the CT series finale.



Team HORST Orange was on the podium many times. Awards were given for:

  1. The race
  2. The USA Cycling Connecticut State Championships
  3. The CT Series of CX

I won’t list all our series winners and podium finishers because the the final results aren’t posted yet. However, finishing on the podium today were Wade (2nd in Men’s 50+) and Alexandra (2nd in Junior Girls 12-14.



I noted that we spent the whole day at the race. Shepard raced at 9:47 A.M. so we were out of the house by 7:15 A.M. Dahlia joined us. Both kids were troopers for spending the day outside in harsh conditions. My father, Stanley, also came to watch the Junior races, which was cool. We had use of the Team HORST tent (which had a little heater) and the Bishop’s Orchard barn which had some heaters too, but they still had to brave the elements. They will sleep well tonight. Debbie did the Shenipsit Striders Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run, so she skipped the race. She spent all morning in the woods. She left the house at 5:10 A.M. The run started in East Hampton and she did the first “half” finishing in Bolton Notch at 12:15 P.M. She thought about coming to Guilford afterwards, but with the bad weather, wisely opted to stay home and prep dinner for us as all three of us were quite “hangry.”



One series result I’m positive about is my own. My race was nuts. As mentioned, we were the last to go off. The Elite Men started one minute in front of the singlespeeders and the race was slated for 50 minutes. It was snowing steadily at the start but by the half-way point, it was coming down extra heavy. The course conditions deteriorated quickly and it got very slippery. I stayed on my bike, which was goal number one.


My Seven Cycles Mudhoney SL has been a beast all season. I just love this bike. On the start line, I realized that my front Tufo tubular had lost a little air during the day. I put 25 psi in it early in the morning, but it softened up. I yelled for Shepard to go to the pit and get my other bike and wait for me should I need it, a geared Mudhoney Pro (with zip ties locking out the shifting). The kid was awesome, he spent the entire seven lap race in the double-sided pit moving my bike 14 times. A friendly stranger gave him some hand warmers for his gloves as he was frozen solid standing there in the snow.


The good news is I actually like the low tire pressure and decided to just keep riding my dedicated SS bike. It was probably 20 psi and it was ideal for the conditions. Bishop’s is as hilly as it gets. We gained nearly 1,000 feet in 10.6 miles and it was up and down. The course is also almost exclusively on grass (other than the asphalt finishing stretch) and is quite bumpy, so you have to constantly pedal. There were many tight turns and several technical off-camber sections. It was an excellent track. I was forced to get off for the barriers and then on one of the steepest climbs.



I opted to ride all of the orchard climbs even tough I could have run faster. The strategy there was that my cleats were getting caked with ice and mud which made it very difficult to clip in. So, I wanted to minimize my dismounts. That meant that I rode some of the hills at an extremely slow pace and I was even forced to tack back and forth a few times to get up the hills. It was hilarious. I loved it.


It was a small field and I spent the first half of the race battling with Eric Wyzga for 4th place. He and I battle every week and we finished 9th and 10th yesterday at Secret Squirrel. So, we know each other well. To his credit, the SS race was his second of the day. He also did the Men’s 3/4 race and rode well. So, despite doing three races in four days, I had the advantage this afternoon and I took it. I eventually distanced him and held on to my 4th spot. I also stayed on the lead lap which took a big effort since the Elite Men started one minute in front of us and just as I crossed the finish line for start of my 7th and final lap, the two leaders were sprinting behind me. I got there first which meant I had another 8+ minutes of suffering and fun in the snow.



That was OK because I wanted to keep riding. I ended up with 58 minutes, which was long. Shepard brought my pit bike back to the car/trailer and I rode straight there to meet him. I let him jump inside and I started the car to get some heat going. Our tent had been packed up when the rest of the team departed. Dahlia was staying warm in the barn, but she eventually joined us. I didn’t even change. I packed our four bikes in the trailer and then we drove up to the store as Dahlia had to use the restroom. We are lucky she did because while we were waiting for her, my phone rang and it was Jake Kravitz calling from the barn.


He asked if we were still at the race. I replied yes and asked why. He said I placed in the series. That was a pleasant surprise. I knew that I was sitting 4th coming into the race, but didn’t realize that Donny Green (despite winning today in fine style) didn’t complete the minimum number of races. He came into the race in 3rd place, but the series also rewards participation and consistency. He got some nice prizes for winning, so I didn’t feel bad about beating him out on participation.


Since Donny hails from Massachusetts, I also got bumped up to third for the Connecticut State Championships. I earned a nice medal. First went to Connor Walsh and second to Anthony Vecca. For the series, it was Anthony on the top step and Connor in second. For third, I got a sweet handmade Ukrainian goblet. I was thrilled. Shepard was a good sport, joining me in the barn and taking photos.


I mentioned Jake, who did was a big help to the race promoters. The Bishop’s staff and volunteers did a fine job. So did Rob Stiles who pulled together all the results and hosted multiple award ceremonies in the barn. Between Jake and Rob, they kept the energy high all day long. This was a great finale.


We got back in the car and then had a wild drive home. I was so glad that we took my Subaru Outback rather than our Volkswagen Eurovan. I actually had the van packed and trailer attached by 6:30 A.M., but checked the weather and made the switch. It paid off as it was white-knuckle driving with post-holiday traffic and nasty weather. It took us 90 minutes to get home and we were quite thankful that Debbie had made a hot meal for us.  Everyone was cooked after four days of intense outdoor activities. I’ll have some bikes to wash and gear to clean, but it was worth it. Now for some rest. The work week starts tomorrow and it will be another busy one.


Bishop’s Orchard Race Results

OK, so a little bit about Secret Squirrel. Shepard and I spent Saturday in Raynham. His race started at 8:30 A.M. so we had to get up very early and make the two-hour drive. There is no fast route to Raynham as it is due east. We just made it in time, but he missed call-ups and had to start in the back row. He was a good sport about it and used an adrenaline surge to move up to 6th in the combined junior field. He held his spot and ended up third in his age group earning a nice scarf as a prize. We had to hang around all day as my race didn’t go off until 2:45 P.M. It was a Zanconato Singlespeed CX Series event, so it was a full field that also included some fat-bikers. I had a decent race, but my legs were still hammered from the road race on Thursday. As mentioned Eric and I fought the hard fight and I came out on top. The Zank Series finals are in two weeks at The Ice Weasels Cometh.



Race Results (will be posted when available)

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