This race was literally in our backyard, so the commute was pretty easy. So nice not to have to get up at the crack of dawn to get to a race. Quad Cycles hosted this new event, and did a great job. Lots of parking, great access to registration and a very spectator-friendly venue. The course was good as well - less technical than Saturday's race, but still a challenge with lots of bumpy grass, tight 180 degree turns, a set of barriers and a BRUTAL run-up with a technical descent.
Again, we arrived early so that we could see some of our teammates and friends in the Beginner races. The NEBC women's team ended up taking 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 8th, with two more teammates in the field as well! It was so much fun cheering them all on, and seeing the smiles when they were finished.
NEBC, ready to race; Carrie finishing up
Karin and Janet - this was Karin's first race; Our winner - Libby!
After the beginners, Mike got ready for his race, and I headed out with our friends Jaime, Mary and Allison to watch and cheer. This was their first experience at a 'cross race, and I think they may come back (Allison particularly liked ringing the cowbell). I also found out that as a result of watching the race, Allison has a new found appreciation for her bike, and might be willing to give a 'cross race a go!
Mike was racing A Masters 35+ again, and while Mark wasn't in the field today, Pascal was. Pascal is from Quebec, and has been coming down to New England each weekend, and ripping the legs off of the Masters fields; he dominated again in Bedford.
We took up our spectating at the bottom of the run-up, which afforded a pretty good view of most of the course. The run-up was steep, and started with a single barrier at the bottom, forcing a dismount. The steep uphill was fresh cut and soft, making the going pretty tough. At the top, a remount was difficult at best (better if you had the skills to remount from the drive-train side), and led into an equally steep, soft, bumpy descent.
For the first two laps, Mike was racing in second position behind Pascal! He said that he suddenly realized that probably meant he was going too hard, and he backed it down just a little bit (although he admitted that he LIKED being so close to the front of the race). He continued to look strong throughout the race, although the sweat was pouring off of him. In the final laps, he made up some ground, and managed to finish 7th overall - a TERRIFIC result! He had a great weekend of racing.
After his race, I headed back to the car to get ready for my own. Warmed up on the trainer and did a bit of socializing, but never had the opportunity to pre-ride the course. That is something that I need to make sure happens moving forward, so I know what to expect and when. I lined up in the second row, next to Rebecca. Her family and much of the women's elite team showed up with big signs - it was her 30th birthday, and they let everyone know it!
Our start was delayed due a course change. With the dry, soft, fresh cut course, the conditions had deteriorated badly in some sections - particularly right before the run-up. The officials and promoters decided after a couple of very badly rolled ankles in the men's race, to remove the barrier at the bottom of the run-up. As the start official said, it didn't really serve any purpose anyway - it wasn't like anyone was going to be able to ride up that slope!
I had another not great start that got worse as we entered the first turn, and I got caught behind the chaos of the field trying to all get around a 180 degree turn at once. I managed to hang on for the next section of the course, where we again piled up headed up the run-up. Think of 20 women with bikes on their shoulders, running up a steep slope covered in black silty soil, about 4 inches deep. It was a slog-fest, and anything but pretty. At the top, there was literally no remount room, before treacherously heading back DOWN the steep slope, now with exposed rock and about two steps in it.
I could see the leaders coming out of the barriers as I was headed in, and coming out of there, I managed to pick up a spot or two. Throughout the first couple of laps, I picked off about three riders. Unfortunately, after that the gas ran out. I wasn't able to hold my position, and started going backwards. Two of the women I had worked to get around passed me back, and now I was on my own, getting lapped by Lyne Bessette (that seems to be a common theme for me this year!). I ended up lapped by a few more of the leaders, and finished at the back of the pack.
The course was good, but I just didn't have the snap. This was the first of our double-header weekends - hopefully I am just getting used to the back-to-back racing.