Written by Kevin Ballou Tuesday, 01 November 2016 00:00
This weekend I raced the Wicked Creepy Cyclocross race in Bennington Vermont. Originally intending on only racing the singlespeed (SS) race, I ended up racing both the masters 35+ race and SS, both on my SS bike, and yes, it was painful.
To add a little back story, last year I sold my beautiful Kona Major Jake since the fall has become a non-stop adventure of shuttling my 6 and 8 year old to hockey and gymnastics practice. I can no longer claim the Autumn as Dad’s time to race. Instead I decided to focus on the summer MTB season this year. In summary, I now only have the first cross bike I purchased, since it was of no value to sell. After the summer racing season ended I still had the racing bug so decided I would just race cross for fun in the local NYCROSS series, and just do the more low-key SS race. Turns out SS is not low key anymore and at most of the races the SS class is the biggest of the day.
As for Wicked Creepy, I carpooled with someone racing masters, so decided rather than sit around and wait for the SS race to kickoff at 1:30, I would also race the masters at 11:45. Of course since I registered day-of for masters I had to lineup dead last in a group of 50 guys (35+, 45+, and 55+ all went off together). I didn’t really care because I figured I would use the master race to learn the course and not go all out, especially considering there was no way I could hang with gears on my SS.
Well I was wrong, I was able to stay with the pack through the starting stretch and even make my way to mid pack up the first climb. The course is a good mix for me, it’s built into the side of a hill, and there is one steep road climb you really have to hammer on, then some snaking climbing turns, before you come back down the hill through more snaking turns. Then there is a nice off camber straight and long descent section, before leveling out through 2 sets of barriers and then a steep run up back to the start. There was really only one section that I was spun out.
The nice thing about starting in the back is the race feels faster as you get to pass more people, I ended up passing mostly everyone who I would normally pass had I been racing gears. On the last lap I saw my crossresults “nemesis” who I typically battle with in the SS race who was about 30 seconds up, and the next guy was 30 seconds back, so I decided not to chase and save some candles for the actual SS race. I finished 6th, which I was plenty happy with.
Singlespeed lineup I was second row of about 20 guys, mostly guys who had also raced masters or CAT3/4 earlier in the day, but on geared bikes. Nothing spectacular happened during the race for the most part. I held my usual spot floating above mid pack with the usual suspects around me, including my nemesis behind me for most of the race. The race got a little more interesting when we started mixing in with the elite women’s race which went off 2 minutes before us, I had a few close calls trying to get around the back of the women’s field. At 2 laps to go I started to fade a bit, I was able to keep pace throughout the course but in order to climb the steep road hill a real deep dig was needed to power through it and my legs just stopped cooperating on that section. With major twitching and self-preservation kicking in on the last lap I let my nemesis and one other guy go by me, and ended up 9th. Overall I was stoked to have been able to hang on my beater SS, I’m contemplating building up a light SS to race both masters and SS for next season.
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