Written by Eric Olds Wednesday, 21 December 2016 00:00
With Kayla’s high school mountain biking season at an end it was finally time to take a family trip to race some CX, and the Boston Road Club’s Shedd Park CX race in Lowell, MA provided the best opportunity to do that. It’s close enough (3 ½ hours) that I’ve done it as a solo day trip, but on this occasion, we went down on Saturday to check out the course and stayed overnight. It’s also one of my favorite races. Another draw was the fact that they pay cash prizes to the top 5 junior girls which helped motivate Kayla to make the trip.
The course starts out on a cinder track around a ball field before taking a hard right and heading up the hill. The promoters make good use of this hill with three climbs of increasing difficulty. Before the final climb it does a few switchbacks on a steep off-camber under large pines. The pines provide plenty of slick roots that always catch people out when they least expect it. In my previous race here, one sent me and a couple riders to the ground hard on the first lap. The steepest and final climb is not rideable by all, but I’ve never had any trouble with it. Here is where you’ll find the hecklers. After the final descent the course is pretty flat, then a trip through the woods on the opposite end of the park and you’re back out on the track and around to the finish.
After nice, warm temps on Saturday, we woke up on Sunday to rain and low 40’s. Perfect cyclocross weather! We got there early enough to grab a prime parking spot and get a couple of laps in before the first race. Then we did our best to stay warm while we waited for Kayla’s and Elisa’s race to start at 9:40. Riding around in the cold wind reminded me why you should bring a trainer to warm up on, but we only have one so that wouldn’t have been helpful, anyways.
The women’s race went off in three waves. Elisa went first in the Masters Women, followed by the 3/4 women. Then, finally, Kayla’s group of three Junior 15-18 women went. Kayla had built up plenty of endurance during the mountain bike season, but with no real cyclocross training she was outpaced early by the two other girls who were a year older and were both starting in their 11th cyclocross race of the year. Still, she rode hard and managed to catch a few 3/4 and Masters women who had started earlier. Elisa rode hard and fought through a crash and a mechanical to finish on the lead lap.
Next up was me in the Men’s 40+ race. I came into the race after a long business trip, overtired and undertrained so I didn’t have high expectations. Still, I enjoyed the course and raced hard to come in 71 out of 81. This was actually a better finish than I had two years ago, when I was in much better shape. Unlike last time, I managed to keep the rubber side down, more or less. I slid out in one corner and jabbed the handlebar end into my knee but that was mild compared to my crash last time when a hidden root sent me end over end.
The overall atmosphere of the race was a little more subdued compared to previous years, probably due to the weather. It’s usually been chilly, but never with the combination of cold, wind, and occasional rain. Still, we had a good time and hope to be back. And Kayla took home $60 for her efforts!
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