Written by Mike Benson Friday, 13 January 2017 00:00
For the second year in a row, my son and I would be wrapping up our year with a cyclocross race right before Christmas. This race is located in Sandwich, MA at YMCA Camp Lyndon. The camp is located at a large secluded private piece of land that is set back on a beautiful lake. This gives the race promotors a lot to work with in terms of course options. When you arrive, there is ample parking in a wooded lot and along the road that leads to the center of the course. Registration is a nice heated building that looks over the lake. Bathrooms and changing rooms were found here as well.
Being that it was a December 18th race, the weather didn’t disappoint. Leading up to race day were multiple days of snow and rain. When my family and I arrived Sunday morning, it was frigid and very windy. The big question would be whether or not the soil would drain well enough to prevent a mud bog. We arrived early enough to get a couple good laps in before the 4/5 group started at 9am. As we warmed up on the course, it was apparent that wherever there was grassy sod, it was going to be a muddy mess. After I finished my second lap and looked at my bike, I knew that I would need to get that cleaned up prior to the start of my race and to further my warmup. A hose had not been set up yet so I sacrificed a couple water bottles and used them in conjunction with a brush I had to de-mud my bike.
My son Matt, who is also a Bikeman.com team member would be racing right after the category 4/5 racers finished. He was racing with the 10-14 racers. I would be racing with the Masters Open 40+ category. Both categories were not huge today. There were competing races in CT this weekend as well so I’m guessing that it’s a combination of that and probably weather and maybe a dose of burn-out. But for me, it was a final tune up race before cxnats in Hartford in a couple weeks.
As we lined up to race at 11am, I looked around at the start line to see some good talent (a few cat 1’s and 2’s and the rest 3’s). I knew it was going to be a slog after seeing my son’s race, where after the first lap looked like he had literally been dragged through the mud. At the whistle we were off and headed up into the wooded cabin lots. We zigged and zagged on sandy, rooty, and muddy roads that linked each cabin to the next. As we shot out of the woods we were met with a long beach that I was able to ride during warmups but ended up falling over twice. The ruts and sand seemed to be getting deeper and the 90 degree turn at the mid-way point didn’t help either. At this point of the race, I was still riding with the leaders but that didn’t last too long. When we left the beach, we headed onto a softball field that required turn after turn in 1-2 inch deep mud. By the time I was through this field, I was pretty tired and then faced with a long ride-up that forced a dismount at about the 1/3 mark due to greasy mud. This meant shouldering your bike and running up the hill over barriers, then steps and onto an upper level of ball fields. This run-up felt like 30 seconds and by the last lap had me suffering really badly. When racers hit the field, you’d think this would be welcomed by flat terrain to catch your breath, but not today. The grassy sod, was now deep wheel sucking mud which required a huge effort to zig and zag through the field. One of the corners came close to a soccer net. Everyone was trying to stay near the edges of trail to find better traction. On the second lap, sitting about 5th or 6th, I ended up putting my pedal and foot through the net and had to stop and watch the three guys I had worked so hard to pass fly right by me while I untangled the netting from my shoe buckles.
From the upper fields, racers were met with a series of fast and slick descents which led back down towards the lower fields, more mud, and another stretch on the beach before crossing the start/finish line. When I finished the race, I was cooked. This was the most physically demanding race for me this year. I was able to capture 9th out of 15. For me this was a great builder in my training bloc before nationals. Overall, I really like this location. They have sand, hills, mud, and lots of different terrain to keep you guessing. As a spectator, you can get around quite easily as well to find good places to offer some cheers and get some good pictures. For food at the venue, there were plenty of breakfast goods provided by Cape Cod Roller Derby. Tom and Tom’s wood fired pizza was also providing brick oven pizza from about 10am on.
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