Written by Paul Wojciak Thursday, 02 November 2017 00:00
If you're like most avid Cyclocross racers in America, October ushers in the heart of the season. There are several races to choose from every weekend. Your form is waxing, hopefully not waning, and the weather should be getting cross-like, i.e. cold, muddy, and challenging. Well, the last weekend in October found me getting some of the mud and the challenge with my form somewhere in between. The Mid Atlantic Conference stops in Jamesburg, NJ every year for the HPCX double shot at challenging Thompson Park. The venue offers a great start setup, more than a little climbing, technical turns and twists, a mix of steady power and bursts, and a sandy ride/run on Sunday. A study in contrasts, Saturday offered a sunny and dry course while Sunday posted rain, increasing muddiness, with a strong chance of unexpected crashes.
I've done the majority of MAC series CX events this year and by way of my consistently mediocre finishes, and the decision by some series stalwarts to skip the weekend, I got to start in the front row both days for the Masters 45+ field. As I mentioned, the weather on Saturday was like most of what we've come to expect this CX season, i.e. warm, dry, and uncross-like. Not to worry says me, I like the venue and with a good start, I should be able to parlay that into a good finish. Well, you have to get clipped in to have a good start right? Yes. Was I and did I? No. Patience Paul, you have 45 minutes to work the crowd. Which I did, passing riders every lap until I saw up ahead one of the strongest riders in the field well off the pace. Kelly was hurting but told me to jump on his wheel while he towed me up the front straight. He gave me a perfect lead in passing three riders in the bargain.
I was feeling spunky. Riding solid, taking turns at speed when, Wham! I'm down, hard. My right index finger, the one I hyper extended in July that was almost back to normal, is screaming in pain. Bummer spunky man. Nothing for it but to pick myself up and continue. Unspunkily. Unfortunately, this little sequence cost me those three spots I had earned from the attack. But, I was sure to thank Kelly afterwards since I would not have been motivated to attack the hill quite like that without his support. Fourteenth on the day at least continues my mediocrity in Masters 45+. We'll go get em on Sunday.
Which brings me to the other end of the weather spectrum. Not a complete mud fest since the heavy rain had not commenced, but wet enough to really make you earn your turns. I got a better start in what was also a smaller field. I really felt good all race, running the sand, charging the hills, navigating the technical sections, and gaining positions steadily. The rain came down harder as the 45 minutes wore on until sections that were grippy on lap one, became slick and tricky on lap five. I attacked on the last lap and came close to beating a guy who only needs one more race to burn my couch on crossresults. Not bad for a Sunday outing and eight on the day.
Timing and scoring, officiating, facilities, promoter, emcee, food truck, vendors, racers and their crews, and fans were all good at HPCX this year. Finding the location, about three miles east of NJ Turn Pike Exit 8A, is a snap. I'll miss the last MAC event. However, I'll being doing a few more races since, like I said at the beginning, this is the heart of Cyclocross season in America. Are you out getting yours?
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