View Full Version : Downeast Cyclocross #1 and #2

10-16-2006, 08:28 AM
Day 1 - Saturday
Morning Temp in ME: 24!
40 min
Starters 26

This course was definitely fun. Technical and muddy are the best words to describe it! The B Women lined up with the Juniors, and set off 30 seconds behind. The officials lined us up in order of registration, and I was on the front of the line, and on the Go, I was quickly off the front of the pack as we headed downhill on pavement. As the course hit the dirt, I was running about 4th as we approached the barriers.

Sadly, I need A LOT more practice with the barriers. A friend has a picture of me coming into the barriers, and dismounting a good 10 - 15 feet ahead. That is too far! And the remount wasn't pretty either... I will be practicing this before the next race.

After the barriers, the course took a right turn onto a bumpy, off camber, momentum-sapping section of trail, directly into a hard 90 degree uphill turn. The other thing to practice? Dismounting on the left while trying to turn uphill to the right. I hated this turn every time around the course, and on the last time around, actually fell over... I was really tired by then ;-).

From here, there was a fast downhill section that led into a mud pit. I don't think there was any mud in the entire state, except for two places on this course! There was a terrific line, but on the first lap, I was actually shoved out of it by another racer. I still managed to ride it out, make the sandy left trun, and head back uphill. A short downhill brought you to the real mud pit on the course. This was about 25 feet long, and the mud was 1 - 3 inches deep on the sides (deeper in the middle). Each time around, I stayed to the left side, and managed to slog through. Nobody came off of this course clean though ;-). We should have done a commercial for Tide!

The next challenge was a natural barrier - a LARGE log followed by a muddy run-up (for perspective, a picture on Velonews.com titled this the "Log of Death"). The good thing for me here was my size - the smaller women (and juniors) had a really hard time getting over this obstacle given its size - definitely not regulation height! The other thing was that if you crossed the log on the left, there was a branch on the other side that you couldn't see until you were on the log. Caused at least one of the women in the race to trip up and end up splayed across the log.

The second part of the course took us back across the pavement and down a fast section of trail with a muddy/slick S-turn. I chose to go wide in the corners here where there was still some grass. This brought us to a tough uphill chicane, back across the pavement for a last turn through the woods, and onto the pavement (uphill) for another lap.

I really liked this course, despite it being really challenging. Unfortunately, I didn't feel great, and ended up suffering from my asthma part way through the race. I finished 16th out of 26 starters - not great, but not too bad either.

Day 2 - Sunday
Morning Temp in ME: 36!
40 min

Sunday's course was different than Saturday - faster, smoother and dryer.

Once again, we lined up behind the juniors, and I was on the front. I liked the start and did well, entering the woods at the top of the hill in about 4th position again. The woods section was where I recovered in the race, believe it or not. The first section was relatively flat, followed by a paved (but bumpy) stretch before getting to some wood chips that ended up rutted and muddy by the end of our race. There were some tight corners where you had to watch for slippery roots, but this was generally a fast section. I took advantage of another racer here on one lap when she hit a root going around a big stump and went down

The next piece of the course was downhill and FAST. A rocky descent into an S-turn (where you had to stay away from the roots), and then a wicked fast open section before turning down the chicane from the previous day (that we had climbed) and back onto the slippery S-turn that today was slightly uphill (but still fast).

Across the pavement and we rode along the top of the resevoir to a muddy downhill with a mud pit at the bottom. This was followed directly by a 90 degree right turn into the first mud section from yesterday, and a 90 degree sandy left. This was totally rideable each time around the course, but you definitely had to be careful. Riding the middle of the "puddle" you were taking a chance, as there was a good-sized rock underneath that wasn't visible in the slop.

Out of the mud and up a slight incline to the barriers (which I did better with today than yesterday), a quick run-up, past the pit and back out onto the pavement.

I had a great start yesterday, which really helped me. I also think that the mountain biking skills helped both days. I was really able to make up time on other riders as we went up the road though, and used this to draft/recover on at least one lap. I took advantage of another racer, catching my breath going into the woods on lap 2. She went down on a rooty turn in the woods, and I went by. I heard her ride back onto my wheel, and she was right with me as we came to the barriers, but somehow, I managed a clean/fast remount and stayed ahead,, knowing that I could put a little distance on her when we got to the pavement. going back into the woods, I knew I had a gap, and let myslef recover, but apparently too much, as she managed to ride back onto my wheel. She was right with me as we came to the mud pit, where we were informed that a rider was down. I was concerned to see my teammate sitting on the hill and slowed - the other racer used this to her advantage and passed me going through the mud.

My immediate concern at that point was about my teammate, and secondarily about trying to catch the other racer. On the last lap through, I saw that my teammate's parents were both with her (she's 12, and an AWESOME 'cross racer), was told that she was okay. At that point I was relieved. I could still see the other racer, but had dropped back far enough that even with a fast pavement section, I couldn't catch her.

I was really pleased with my race on Sunday, and had a great time. This was a fun event, especially with so many teammates from other races there to cheer everyone along. I finished much better on Sunday - in 8th place.

I find that the TT skills also help with 'cross racing - think about max effort for 40 minutes, just like in a time trial. When I download my HR information, it looks the same as my TT efforts - flat line at max effort for the duration.

I think this 'cross thing is addictive :D . It's definitely fun, if you consider an average HR of 173 for 40 mins and asthma attacks fun :D .


10-16-2006, 08:57 AM
Congratulations! Sounds like a great weekend of racing, shefly! I sure wish we had mud here in CA. We actually had a couple places on the course yesterday that were "muddy" but not really. My guess is the lawn sprinklers just kept them a little wet.

10-16-2006, 10:06 AM
Sounds like great racing and a great course! Wish I could've been there.

I probably would have been right along side with the asthma - mine gets worse in cold weather and can make my race day miserable sometimes!

Oh well, those are the breaks

10-16-2006, 11:01 AM
That sounds so amazing! It sounds like a really challenging course- Congratulations!

Add me to the asthma list......:( But kudos to you for getting through it. I probably would have just laid down on the other side of the log and waited for someone to get me......

10-16-2006, 11:50 AM
Thanks for the kind messages! I had actually forgotten that my exercise-induced asthma (great for a racer - NOT!) kicks up when the temps are colder, and it was definitely cold on Saturday! No problem with it on Sunday though, thank goodness!

I think part of the mud on this course was due to the hard frost that we got on Friday night... Made everything pretty slick. That's racing in New England, though - last week in Gloucester, the trails were so dry I was dusty just from spectating! DH is terribly excited about the prospect of racing in the snow ;) .


10-17-2006, 12:50 PM
Sounds like you guys are fairly serious racers. I'm going to try cyclocross this weekend--but I'm not going to be category anything, I'm Masters age, and I'm just going to go thru it way slow. Have to start somewhere.

I was up at Glouscester last week, those women were awesome. Lynne Bessette won, she is incredibly strong and also pretty and feminine looking.

The guys were great too. I can see how it would be hard to jump into those competitive packs.

10-17-2006, 01:47 PM
Hey, Chains! If they offer a C or beginners category, you should race that. The masters are typically very fast, many of them elite level racers. Just because they're older doesn't mean they're slower.

10-17-2006, 02:22 PM
Yeah I know that, I just meant I'm the age of a master! I'll be in the B women's race that goes with the little kiddies. There isn't a specific beg. race at this event. Its only a relatively small club ride, and only 30 minutes.

10-18-2006, 03:31 AM
Hey Chains! Welcome to 'cross.

Which race are you doing this weekend? Headed to CT or to VT?


10-18-2006, 04:12 AM

I'm going to Mansfield Hollow in CT, no pressure to perform or anything. I have never been in any kind of race in my entire life, so it will be different. :D

10-18-2006, 04:25 AM
I haven't yet decided if I am doing that race this weekend, but if I do, I will let you know! A couple of my teammates are registered though.

Here is a brief description from one of my teammates: It has a little bit of off camber stuff, run-ups, and wooded single track. She said that she really likes this course.

If this is your first race, remember that the most important thing is to HAVE FUN! This is my first season of 'cross racing, but I am having a blast!


10-18-2006, 07:31 AM
And if those "little kiddies" are actually juniors, look out! Teenagers are fast and furious, sometimes a bit wreckless, and seem to feel no pain. Don't let their age deceive you.

Have a blast! Keep smiling and remember you're awesome just for racing. It's a tough sport but can be so much fun!!!