Written by Paul Wojciak Wednesday, 22 November 2017 17:46
The big Cyclocross series in the northeast these days, sponsored by Vittoria Tires, makes its way through four different venues: Gloucester, MA, Northampton, MA, Suffern, NY, and Warwick, RI. The third stop for the Supercross Cup in Suffern, NY offers a course quite unlike the other three. There is a significant amount of climbing per lap. The current venue at Rockland County Community College has become a bit of a sensation. After last year's Sunday event subjected racers to six inches of wet snow with mud from hell, riders need be prepared for grueling and technical racing.
A few weeks ago, I had decided my own CX season would culminate here with Saturday's race. 2017 has been a great year of racing for me while things like work have been particularly demanding. In prior years, I would typically race into December. I decided to wind up CX before Thanksgiving this year in order to turn my attention to snowboarding and other winter pursuits. With that mindset, I was prepared to give my all at Supercross that my form would allow. Racing in the Masters 50+ fields, especially at these big, well attended events, brings the best competition you can ask for. The Saturday field had most of the guys I've come to know and respect in the lineup. The course was similar to last year with some welcome changes. There was a technical section added through the woods replacing a smooth grassy section. The finish line was also moved to offer a longer sprint. The rest of the punchy climbs and off camber turns and barriers were on the menu to put the hurt on competitors.
Temps were below freezing when we took our first course inspection laps and only climbed to about 35F at my field's 9:45AM start. The course conditions were dry which would tilt the advantage towards power rather than technical skills. That's fine as I can go both ways. As the season progressed, my crossresults.com handicap has inched upwards. This has led me towards third row starts and Saturday was true to this pattern. In the grid, I was filled with determined, nervous energy that's become so familiar. The whistle blew and we were sprinting pell-mell onto the course. I got a solid start and made a couple moves to stay on wheels that were already starting to organize. As we flew round some bends and up the first hills, I was feeling good, riding solid. We worked through the first lap without any mishaps and I was with guys I've been duking it out with all season. With the first lap time, it was obvious we were going for six laps today. Good.
Since I specialize in multi-day stage races and have a lot of endurance, I like longer CX races since my fitness, especially on hilly courses, can hold steady making the difference on later laps. By the third lap, I had passed a few riders that had been finishing ahead of me recently. I still felt solid and was on some great wheels. I really had to dig in to stay on a couple times, but by lap five I was dialing the turns knowing how to hold my momentum. As we came through and got the one to go bell, I was fading off the two strong wheels I'd been on. They gapped me up the hill and I couldn't quite hang on. Lungs blowing like bellows and legs driving hard, mind in the racing flow, I concentrated on mistake free moves. I dropped into the woods, roaring through and up onto the finishing stretch. Up out of the saddle grabbing gears and sprinting to the line with all I have left. Yes! That was fulfilling.
I commiserated with my friends, opponents exchanging fist pounds and atta boys. I felt a nice glow from my effort and result. I got everything I had to give today. Rockland County Supercross did not disappoint.
Looking back on my 2017 Bikeman.com season brings pleasure and satisfaction. Given that I live in Poughkeepsie, NY, I tend to be the only team representative at events in which I participate. That's extra incentive to race with sportsmanship, enthusiasm, and intensity. Competitors and friends in races know that Wojciak in the Bikeman.com kit always brings the goods but more importantly, races clean, but most importantly has fun doing it. And while you may ride and race for any number of reasons, doing so with honor and heart is really just a refection on how you live the rest of your life isn't it?
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