2021 Belltown CX

There was a lot going on at Day 2 of the Belltown CX. It was a battle, a competitive battle. I didn’t race on Saturday but I gave it my all today. I wanted a good result in the Masters 50+ race, but it could have been even better. However, there is no way to know. I felt great, but I didn’t get to fight for the win because of a hard crash at the start.

I’m not sure what happened but I had first call up and picked my spot on the front row. It was a crowded front row with too many riders (my opinion) on a narrow piece of land. That’s a subtle complaint. I got into my pedals OK, but was several riders back after 100 feet as we wound up to full speed. The course tape narrowed slightly. Someone in front of me checked up and swerved into my wheel. I don’t know who it was and it doesn’t matter. These things happen.

In an instant, I crashed hard on my left shoulder, hip, and knee. Even the left side of my helmet was muddy, which means it touch the ground, at least for a moment. Then, to make matters worse, at least three other riders crashed into me, falling on top of me. Thankfully this wasn’t on asphalt. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’ve got a potentially serious problem with my Seven Mudhoney frame. I didn’t find the issue until I was washing my bike six hours after the race, so it’s a non-factor in this report because the bike held up for the subsequent 47 minutes of riding.

I wouldn’t say I was dazed because my head is fine and a didn’t hit it, hard but the feeling was more of being shaken up and frustrated. My heart rate was jacked up as I assessed the damage. My number was partially torn off of the left side of my dirty jersey. My shorts and gloves were also soiled after planting them into the ground. I slowly picked myself up as the the racers who made it through cleanly took off like crazy men. I would have done the same thing if my “friendly rivals” had a mishap and it was to my advantage. Those that crashed with me also got going as I stood up and fiddled with my bike. I had to put the chain back on and also straighten my handlebars, which had turned 45 degrees to the left.

I was the last one to make it off of the initial straightaway before we entered a wooded section. My bike didn’t feel right. I hadn’t even noticed that my saddle was also turned to the left. I had to hop off again, straighten it, remount, and get going, losing more precious time. I did my best to start chasing, but my legs felt like lead for the remainder of the first lap. There has to be some sort of physiological reaction as the adrenaline was pumping. It was probably the flight or fight mechanism. I picked off a few of the back-of the-pack riders as I worked my way through traffic. My first lap ended up being 7:17 while the leader (Steve Sadler) was 6:24 and the eventual winner (Ciaran Mangan) was 6:34. So, I was 53 seconds back.

As I suffered, I ceded another 10 seconds on lap two, completing it in 6:46 while the Ciaran did it in 6:36. I lost six seconds to him on lap three and another five seconds on lap four before I started to settle in and claw back time. On lap five, I started to really motor, working my way through the field and I took back six seconds. I had several teammates and friends cheering for me and that was motivating. It was great to see Arlen Zane Wenzel. He was coaching me as I closed the gaps to the riders in front of me. Special thanks to Laura Becker who was her usual loud self. She has to be my favorite cheerleader! Also thanks to David Hildebrand who gave me some encouraging tips as I was tracking down the riders who were still in front of me. On lap six, I made up another 11 seconds, but on the final lap I gave back two seconds. One can only speculate what would have happened if I hadn’t crashed.

My charge brought me all the way up to third place. Steve continued to stay between Ciaran and the chasers, which included Wade Summers, Jeremy Brazeal, and Richard Nadeau. I was happy to get past all three of them with a half a lap to go and held them off for the third and final podium spot. It was a bittersweet podium because I feel like I could have been up a step or two. This course was made for me. Wade, Jeremy, and Richard had a tight battle for 4th, with Wade taking it three seconds behind me. Jeremy and Richard had a sprint a further three seconds back with Jeremy prevailing.

Steve ended up in second in 47:45, 17 seconds in front of me and Ciaran took the win in 47:12. Congratulations to them. I finished in 48:02, 50 seconds behind first. Again, I can only speculate how the race would have gone had I been able to battle directly with Ciaran rather than chasing the entire race. As they say, “that’s bike racing.”

I loved the course. It was “gnarly” which means technical, hilly, and hard. There were several long hard sand sections. I was able to ride it and even bunny-hop over a wooden step coming up from the beach. Farther up the hill, there was a set of double barriers. There were several steep climbs, and there was one wicked run-up. There were several spectators camped out on the side of the run-up and they were also offering me encouragement every lap as I dug deep. I used my Long Cross Spikes and they were awesome. I was very strong on the hill sections. Other than the crash, and spending some time wrapped in course tape on lap two, the rest of my race was ridden cleanly.

Kudos to the Stage 1 Airline Cycles Team for hosting the event. They always do a great job with their races. Debbie and Dahlia were at a Scout Camporee, so only Shepard joined me, and he didn’t race. He has to save his legs (and not take chances) in advance of next Saturday’s Connecticut State Championship Cross Country meet at Wickham Park. He just had a very good race at the NCCC Championships on Thursday.

Over the course of the two days, Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad had another strong turnout with some great results. I won’t list them all, but we had many podiums. There was some great riding by the team.

I’m nursing some wounds on my leg, arm, shoulder, and back (tire tracks!) and I’m sure that I’ll be stiff in the morning. I’ve also got to resolve this bicycle issue. I’ll be reaching out to our friends at Bicycles East in Glastonbury. They are adept at troubleshooting problems like this. Hopefully, the bike doesn’t have to go back to Seven Cycles, at least not until after the season. I’ll report back! In the meantime, I’ve got a singlespeed “pit bike” and it is on to another CT Series of CX race at Cheshire CX this coming weekend. I’ll be there one way or another.

Race Results

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Some sights and sounds from yesterday’s Secret Squirrel CX. #cyclocross #teamhorstsports @horstcycling #crossspikes #teamhorstjuniorsquad
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From #newyork Sunday for @pearljam at @thegarden to #Chicago on Wednesday for @imtschicago it’s already been a busy week with lots of planes, trains, automobiles, and jet packs! Amazing technology at the show.
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