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2014 Cross Season wrap up

I haven't posted here in a while but now that my season is all wrapped up I wanted to take the opportunity to share some highlights.

First off, cross is just the best. The race venues, the conditions, and the relaxed attitude of everyone involved makes this type of racing just plain fun. If you haven't tried this you should. There are ample opportunities right here in our own back yard to do so. Here are my top five reasons to consider giving it a try:

  1. It's either pretty easy, really really hard, or somewhere in between. You are the one who decides.
  2. It's a closed course so no one gets dropped. You may pass and get passed in return but odds are your race will turn into your own battle with the racers around you.
  3. You can use your mtb, your winter bike, or bring a race bike, a pit bike and a trainer bike like the Nyberger. They all work.
  4. From Sept to Dec odds are you can travel less than an hour from home and find a race. And that race will have fields for little ones. juniors, open CATS and masters.
  5. You can bring dogs. Not only are they welcomed but they'll have as much fun as you.

So here's a recap of my 2014 season. I hope some of the other club members share theirs. Some of your fellow clubs members (Wyatt!) have a lot to report on.

I am happy to say that my season exceeded all of my expectations. An early spring injury slowed the build up of my road race fitness but it ended up being very positive. I was feeling fresher than I ever had before in August and was able to carry that fitness right into cross season. I was also eager to back in it after missing the 2013 season due to mono.

My goals this season were to try as many new races (to me) as I could find. My schedule conflicted with both Gloucester and Providence so I shifted my focus to the smaller races in the NY/New England. I found that if I knew I had to go somewhere on a particular weekend I could usually find a local race to do while there.

In August I surprised myself with a win at Forest Park and that built up some confidence that I had never felt in previous years. I am a relative newbie to the sport (this was my 4th full season) and am not accustomed to being the guy to beat. That was followed by a 2nd place at Butternut and back to back wins in the first two CT series races at Silk City and Hartford Riverfront. At this point I wanted to ride the wave as long as I could manage.

I am old enough this year to race 50+ (cross age 51) but registered for 40+ and 45+ fields often to prove to myself that I wasn't just getting lucky as the youngster in the field. Not to say that the 50+ field is easy. My two hardest fought (and most fun) races this year were at Hartford Riverfront and Mansfield Hollow. Both were wheel to wheel battles with some mud tossed in at the Hollow. I grabbed wins at Forest Park, White Park, and Thompson Dam (Beaver Cross) and 2nd place finishes at Butternut, Webster Park, and Keene Pumpkin Cross in the 40 or 45+ fields.

The Ct Series of CX consisted of nine races this year. This series is becoming very popular and has some really good venues and race direction from CT cycling teams and clubs. If you are thinking about cross, you can't go wrong with these. The master's fields were 40, 50, and 60+ this year and after the wins at Silk City and Hartford Riverfront I became the 50+ series points leader. The 50+ races were also interesting because we started one minute behind the 40+ field. This changed the race tactically because it added the element of passing and putting 40+ racers between you and whoever was chasing you. Cross courses are full of pinch points where this can work both for and against you. It worked for me at Silk City and against me at Newtown. Suffice to say I accumulated enough points to keep the series lead by 8th race at March Farm. That freed me up to take on the 40+ guys in the final series race at Thompson Dam.

Lessons learned for next year:

  1. You don't just want a pit bike, you NEED one. Wheel changes will cost you the win and bent chains end your race.

  2. Don't miss your call up. Many of the bigger races are decided in the first minute. You can earn a good starting position with points from the smaller races but they don't do you any good if you're late for the call up. And pre-reg if you plan to race. Day off registration won't include a call up.

  3. Don't try to out corner the veterans. They know it's better to stay wheels down and put the power into exit speed and the straight-aways.

  4. Barriers and run-ups are passing zones. Use them wisely.

  5. If it took you longer to clean your bike than it did to race it was a good course.

Plans for next season:

  1. Continue to support the CT series races.

  2. Be at the big Verge weekends.

  3. Aim for a top five in the NE Regionals

  4. If Nationals come to CT next year....BE THERE!


In reply to pcunningham

Just noticed your post Pat, and wanted to confirm everything you said. Watching the CX racing this fall and winter has been great fun for our family, dog included.

There were some really good courses, like Gloucester (where the boys went swimming after their race) and our own local CT series race at March Farm (with the mud-filled corn maze). DAS Beaver was a good example of a course that left something to be desired, with that jagged rock descent that claimed one rider's shoulder bones. This CX thing really puts the hurt on their bikes too. I'm convinced that it was conceived by a group of shop owners who wanted to sell derailleurs, spokes, chains, rims and shifters by the gross.

Wyatt started the season with a laid-back approach, opting out of the CCAP team until the spring road season starts, and deciding instead to race under the EBCC club name wearing Benidorm and Horst/Benidorm jerseys that the Cunningham and Summers families paid forward a couple of years ago. Before we knew it though, he was into CX up to his eyeballs, and made it a point to get to every CT series race that was left in the season. We missed pre-reg for day two of NEBX, and Wyatt had to start from the back (like you said) but did a great job regaining ground, and ended up with an even better finish than he did with a call-up on day 1. He did his best "Pat" impression by standing on as many boxes as possible this year, and ended up in 2nd place in the CT series, behind his good friend Lane. 2014 CT Series of CX Results

Derek started the season out strong, finishing 1st and 2nd at Gloucester in the men's 4/5 races, riding what should have been your pit bike (thanks very much / sorry about that) but decided to bail on CX so he could focus on prepping for the 2015 road season.

Wyatt will do one last CX race tomorrow in Rhode Island before he hangs up his CAADX for the season.

For the sake of those bikers who've been living in a vacuum for the past couple of days, USA Cycling just announced that CX Nationals will be held in Hartford in 2017. Hartford Courant - A Good Fit: Hartford To Host Championships In Cyclo-Cross Racing Get psyched people!

In reply to cotej

Nice! The boy has skills.

In reply to pcunningham

Are you kidding me? I just bought a cross bike, I don't even know what a pit bike is and now I need one? My wife is going to leave me.

In reply to JRogowski

> Are you kidding me? I just bought a cross bike, I don't even know what a pit bike is and now I need one? My wife is going to leave me.

I bet you'll miss her.

In reply to JRogowski

Do what most cx racers do, get a 2nd bike that is exactly the same. Keep one in the garage and one in the basement. If she notices point out how pairs of shoes she owns.

Trust me, this logic is fool proof ;)

Pat , your a bad influence. Thanks for the tip. Good excuse not to sell my old cross bike !