Written by Mike Benson Monday, 14 November 2016 00:00
This would be my first time racing in Hampton Falls, NH. The race course is only 40 minutes from my house which is always nice. The last two years I missed registration for this race as it fills very quickly. The race is located at a beautiful farm and orchard. Applecrest Farm offers everything from a farmers market with apple cider donuts and hot chocolate to a fine dining restaurant located on the property. I will definitely be bringing my family back here again.
My son and I arrived around 8:15 am for his scheduled Juniors (9-14) race at 10 am and my Masters (4/5) 40+ race at 11am. My goal was to get a couple course reconnaissance laps in following the 8am races and again the 9am races. During my warm ups many of the corners were still covered in slippery mud. The Orchard Cross course designer also builds in somewhat of a pump track including a fairly high berm that when dry can be railed at high speeds. For the early races this was impossible as ruts formed in the loose mud. The track basically zig zagged its way through the orchard around trees and up small hills. There were three man-made obstacles (i.e. 2 sets of stairs and one set of barriers). Both sets of stairs were rideable but I found it much faster to carry speed and run through them and remount. On the back side of the course there were two natural obstacles that tested a rider’s technical ability. The first was a tricky 180 degree off-camber that was not rideable during my race. There wasn’t enough room to make the hard right turn and maintain enough momentum to carry speed back up the hill. The second obstacle was a 180 degree turn in thick mud. Early in the day it was slick and loose but it started to thicken up by the end of my race. I was able to stay on my bike by carrying good speed, cadence, and weight on the bike tire through the turn. Coming out of the mud, I was able to gap people by hitting the gas and sprinting up hill. At the top of the small hill, you could rest for a few seconds as you descended through two or three tight corners which led to the barriers. From there, racers had a choice of two alleys through a field which led to a tight right hand turn onto a long but fairly easy camber towards the finish line.
My son’s race had over 50 Junior racers staged. I was floored by the amount of kids racing which is awesome for the future of the sport. It was fun to watch him during the first lap. He was able to pick his way through traffic and pass weaker riders at some of the harder obstacles. For my race, I was staged on the front row. When the whistle blew, I took the hole-shot and led the race for the first half lap before the eventual winner tore past me and left me in the dust. WOW! I fought hard with a rider from Colonial bicycle for the remaining 4 laps but was unable to catch him at the finish. I finished a respectable 3/35 and captured my first podium. Thanks to Bikeman.com my bike was in tip top shape. My Pedro’s chain lubricant is awesome and has kept my drivetrain moving nicely. As expected, my Challenge Baby Limus tubulars and Carver carbon C38’s performed flawlessly. Two more months of racing to go. Woohoo!!!
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