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The Tail of Two Wednesdays (Midnight Ride vs. Night Weasels)

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

This would be my first time racing The Midnight Ride but not my first time racing at Bolton Fairgrounds. I raced here last year at the Minuteman race. The course layout started with a 200 yard drag on hard pack grass and dirt and quickly bottle necked to a hard left hand turn that led to a number of twists and turns. I was lucky enough to get a decent start from the second row and found myself in 8th wheel at the first turns. This was good because the field was mashed into a frenzy at this bottleneck. Watching the cat 2,3,4 race later that evening with a similar 100+ rider field showed how bad this course design was. It was like a mosh pit in those turns with elbows flying and bikes clanking together.

The Bolton fairgrounds are very flat for the most part. This leads to the course designer adding a lot of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I ended up doing three warm up laps to test speed at each turn and ended up with sub-twenty psi in my Challenge Baby Limus tubulars. The course had two sets of barriers, a greasy hard packed clay-like sandy area, and a large wood chip chicane that went through a horse corral. There was one hill that was littered with 180 degree turns up and down which had you guessing how risky you wanted to take corners for fear of washing out. I did just that during the end of the 4th lap when I was fighting with the second group of 4 riders sitting on the 8th wheel. I came in too hot to a downhill corner to a 180 back up hill, locked up my rear brakes, and washed out my rear wheel. I lost two positions and burned 2 matches trying to catch back on during the final 5th lap. Lessons learned there as always with each race.

Overall, I was better than most in the corners and lost time on the long straightaways to the guys with more watts than me. As we sprinted down the back straightaway to the hill for the final 15+ twists and turns I could not get within 5 seconds of the racer in front of me. I was hoping for a sprint to the line but couldn’t muster the strength to catch his wheel. I finished a respectable 10th out of 125 racers. Hopefully my cross results points will dip enough with this result to get me in the second row for my races at the KMC cyclocross festival in Thompson, CT.

Night Weasels Cometh (Oct 8, 2016) Category 4/5 40+ masters

On the following Wednesday I would be racing Night Weasels for the first time. Night Weasels is at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury, MA. The course zigs and zags along the side of a small family ski hill located in central Massachusetts. This course was completely opposite of the previous Wednesday which was flat. This course had you climbing and climbing and climbing.

When I arrived at the course that day I had a first class cold brewing. As I took my first couple laps around the course I started thinking that this wasn’t going to be my day. Not only was the course a constant hill climb that didn’t wasn't my strong suit, but I was just feeling off from the cold. Rather than do a third hot lap I decided to continue warming on the trainer during the first scheduled Cat 5 race.

As call ups came I took my spot on the front row. I looked back at my rear tire to see it was sitting on some loose gravel so I took a little time grinding out my tire to make sure I had a firm surface. The first straight away was strewn with 2 inch loose stone that ended up crashing the 3rd row pretty hard. As we took the first turns up hill towards the continuous switchback towards to the chairlift summit I was able to stay with the lead group. There was one short punchy hill before the last 30 yards of climbing before the descent. The downhill was fast and firm. Each lap I was able to find improve the line that minimized braking and optimized speed through the corners which saved time. There were two times that this track had you off the bike. The first was a set of stairs that was definitely rideable but faster running. The second was a set of barriers right before the last straight away before the finish.

Our race was 6 laps which I wasn’t excited about after slogging through the first two laps. After giving up multiple spots in the first half of the race I started to settle in and gain spots back. The course was basically an uphill switchback of turns and a downhill set of turns that turned into many chicanes towards the bottom. I’m actually surprised they didn’t have a KOM for the summit as it felt like a mini road race. During the last lap I think I passed about 5 people including one that I really wanted to pass at the barriers. I sprinted to the finish for 10th or 11th in the 40+ group and 16th overall. This would be my worst overall finish of the year but still awarded me with generous cross results points because of the huge starting group of 110+.

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