2021 Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross & Wickham Park Invitational

Today was my 14th Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross Race. The event dates back to 1983, but I only started racing cross in 1995, so I wasn’t at the early editions. I think the race keeps getting better. It looked like there were a record number of junior riders there today. The CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad was out in force and did great. The group included Luke Wilson, Alexandra Miller-Davey, Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, Brohm Citroen, Ethan Lezon, and Owen Lezon. Eli Skulte led the way in the kids race.

Our Masters riders were also strong. Andris Skulte did the Men’s Cat 4 race. I was in the 50+ age group along with Wade Summers and John Meyerle. We started a minute behind the 40+ group which included Brett Chenail after his recent upgrade. He is racing with the fast Masters now! Following my age group were the 60+ and we were represented by Dave Geissert, Paul Nyberg, and Keith Enderle.

Both of those guys also helped Race Director Ron Manizza with course set up. I think their input was helpful because the track was fast and flowy after some nice tweaks. I probably could have done better with a bit more climbing, a bit more sprinting, and a bit more sand running, but alas, it is what it is. It was also nice to see Coach Art Roti and Coach Laura Becker. Laura rode there from Manchester but that didn’t stop her from being the loudest spectator on the course. She cheered like mad and it was appreciated. It was also great to see Eric Wyzga, a dear friend from both the trail running community and the cyclocross community. Over the years, he and I have banged bars numerous times and I look forward to doing more singlespeed events with him as the season progresses.

I still rode a decent race though I didn’t quite fulfill my first row second spot call up. I had a good start and went into the woods in third or fourth, but eventually faded to sixth where I battled for a while. I ended up seventh and some of my technical mistakes were costly. I biffed the sand on lap one and I had to get off my bike on the steep “ride up” with two laps to go. I had a few other clunky corners, but in the end, was happy with the result.

A month ago, I was absolutely flying and riding out of my mind, even feeling “the zone” in a few races, but the past few weeks have been a struggle as I have suffered a “cycle down” period which is natural. I would like to be closer to the fastest 50 year-olds, but I’ll keep trying. Work has been a bit more rough, I haven’t slept as well, and a pesky sore ankle/foot (after twisting it) have held me back a bit.

I also rode the Vermont 50 at a fairly intense pace and that may help in the long run, but it tired me out for a week or so. Needless to say, cyclocross season is long. I just started thinking about (and planning) the national championships in Chicago in December. It seems like a long way off, but it will be here quicker than I probably realize. There is still some fun local racing to do between now and then.

After the race, I had to get out of there rather quickly. I would have loved to hang out, but Shepard and the rest of the Bolton High School Cross Country Team were running at the Wickham Park Invitational. Wickham is a magical place and I pass through nearly every day. Heck, I was there yesterday. It’s on my normal commuting route to work.

I parked about a mile from the back side of the park at the local school and then rode one of my CX bikes over the course. It was a great way to spectate and was much faster gettin around with two wheels compared with running/hobbling. Debbie was already there. She rode from home via the rail trail and East Coast Greenway which is the route I like to take.

One highlight was the BHS girls winning the small school division with Meghan Minicucci taking first with a very strong run. The rest of the girls ran well too and that bodes well as we approach championship season towards the end of the month.

The boys also did well. Silas Gourley led them in fifteenth and Shepard was twenty-fifth. He was very happy, got a trophy, and was the second fastest freshman in the small school race. He ran 18:22, his fastest 5K yet. That’s great for the demanding Wickham course, which was wet (and slow) in spots. The weather could get worse by the time they return here on 10/30, so this was good practice.

After the race, I headed to work for a few hours. It’s only a mile from the park and thanks to my nice shower at work, I didn’t have to remain dirty from all of the morning activities.

Mansfield Hollow Race Results

Wickham Park Invitational Results

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