Written by Mike Benson Wednesday, 21 September 2016 00:00
Today was my first time to Auburn, NH. To be honest, before today, I had no idea where Auburn was. Funny, it's only 36 minutes from my house. Rest assured I will be attending this race when my schedule allows for years to come. One of the big scheduling issues I run into is that I coach my son's tackle football team. Luckily, the game today was at 2pm so I had plenty of time. Having said this, I missed my daughter's cheer which was in Laconia at 11am ☹.
My son and I arrived at 6:45 AM for my 9:01AM Masters 35+ 4/5 race. My son Matthew, who would have been racing the Juniors 9-14 race that day, was out because he broke his hand in the final play of last week’s football game. This is really a bummer for Matt as the junior race was stacked with 30+ riders which is unbelievable. The future looks bright for NE Cyclocross for sure.
I was able to get 2 good warm-up laps and one solid hot lap before another 100+ riders flooded the course that morning. I spent my final 15 minutes before staging warming up on the trainer. This always feels good as I can really focus on my warmup. The course was nice. I thought that it was more of a traditional cx course compared to many of the early season tracks which seem more mountain bike focused. This course included many sandy chicanes, off-cambers, and four dismounts that included a set of barriers, a set of stairs, a log wall, and a long sand run. It also showered on and off during the race which was nice as it kept the dust down and mud factor up☺.
Staging was dicey. As I watched the 50 or more 4/5 riders line up before us, I asked myself how bad it was going to be picking my way back through the field. I lined up on the second row of a big field again today. One minute after the 4/5 whistle, the Masters 35+ group took off. My start was less than perfect as I started in the wrong gear. I ended up 7th wheel at the first corner. Off to the races!! It wasn’t long before we hit the back of the 4/5 group, which was expected. I knew that my ability to keep pace with the super-fast (sandbaggers) at the front of my group would be limited to my ability to keep up with passing other riders within the sandy twists and turns of the upper field behind the Fire Station. At first, I was doing well and was sticking with the eventually 3rd place finisher but he really could pick his spots better than me. Fast forward to the 5th lap and I was riding strong behind the 5th and 6th spots. As we punched it out of the tricky sandy downhill that led up to a chicane of sandy turns I somehow found myself behind a Tall Socks racer who was struggling through the sand. I elected to (slowly) wait to get through a corner which gapped me by 10+ seconds which made it difficult to catch back up.
For the second day, I captured 7th place out of 83 racers which was nice because it means first row cross results points but no CAT 3 upgrade points. I was able to lap every 4/5 racer too except for their top 4. This was a good learning experience. By the time the race was over, my SRAM 1x11 drivetrain had collected a lot of sand and mud but still kept running strong despite the louder than normal grinding noises. My Kona Major Jake, again, was really nice to ride. The lightness of the frame made it easy to fly through the course. Thank you Bikeman.com for keeping me ready to ride each week.
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