The season is crawling to a close. Not much left for folks who LIKE the sound of $20 worth of brake pads being chewed off in 40 minutes.
So it’s down to three races:
Newtown CX, Last Chance CX and the enticingly named Long Island Cyclocross at Nissequogue River State Park.
To Newtown. Yup, that Newtown. To ride a bike through slush three miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. To me, not living there, it seemed like should be a quiet zone, with no planes overhead, no one driving faster than fifteen miles an hour or speaking louder than a whisper.
Of course, we don’t live there. The folks who do were getting on with it.
Newtown Youth Academy was lux. Put on by the fine folks behind The Sandy Hook Ride on Washington, they had this first ever race in Newtown dialed. Parking on cement, showers, a sandwich shop inside, and a well organized race, even if the course seemed like it’d been laid out with a ruler.
We rolled in an hour before my start. My single pre-ride lap reminded me how bad I am in snow and mud. Perversely, for the cementishly inclined, there was a cementish incline. 500 meters that went pretty much straight up a bike path to the top of a not insubstantial hill, then some lefts, and that same 500 meters back downhill along the edge of a field. At race speed it was a bit like riding a really poorly built toboggan. Pre-riding, it was clown college. A cruelly situated J-turn at the bottom of the run separated the wheat from the chaff, and looked likely to separate some shoulders as well.
Tim Clayton, a very pleasant ex-pat from Leeds, stood there all day and took some of the finest crash pics I’ve ever seen-
-the whole series of over 200, can be viewed/purchased at his site. Extreme risk of spit takes.
It was nice and warm, so the layer of sleepy-bear hibernation didn’t have to be punched through with the trainer-hammer. My warmup was jabbering compulsively, taking my bike to the pits and 10 trips to the car to take off layers. I felt like a special-needs stripper. By the time the callups started I was in the same gear I’d ridden in September.
My race went OK. I managed to stay upright for the most part, besides briefly getting taken down on the first lap by a Finkraft guy who loves rolling in the dirt.
6th! Best finish of the year!
Not as impressive when only 20 people finish, but I’ll take it!
Dan had HORRIBLE luck. His 7th place 3/4s of the way through the A race was torched by a poorly routed Di2 cable that got disconnected by some miscellaneous flotsam. His solution: ride bike upside down and pedal by hand. Didn’t work.
He followed this spectacular mechanical with another: running the belt on his singlespeed too loosely, resulting in not one, but THREE instances of said belt popping off like the Challenger’s O-Ring. His first place lock in the SS race turned into a hard-fought MacGuyver-ish 2nd.
This is not an easy sport. When I crash, I’m usually fighting for 90th place. When things happen to Dan, he’s probably at the sharp end, giving sponsored riders fits. And weirdly, when things go wrong, he doesn’t get all Wagnerian about it. It’s not natural, I tells ya!
When Todd was done using all the hot water on the East Coast, the earth had cooled to a chilly 55 degrees, the course tape was being rolled into yellow basketballs and arced into dumpsters, and what stakes could be were being rescued from the murk, we loaded our beat-up selves into the minivan and headed out, the call of the open road too strong to fight.