The conditions for the race started on the slightly damp side with some soft, squishy turf and a few mud pits but tacked up throughout the course of the day. The weather was nearly ideal if not a little bit on the warm side with the air temperature being in the fifties but the sun adding considerable to the feel when it was present. A good day for racing.
The course was a nearly exact reversal of the course from the Midnight Ride nighttime cyclocross race held at the venue a couple weeks prior, Layout was good with some power sections as well as ample corners and corkscrews. Terrain surface ran the gammit with grass, wood-chips, sand, dirt and cinder. There was also limited mud. There was one section of shallow sidehill that was climbed a couple of times in a series of switchbacks up and back. The venue is the site of the Bolton Fairgrounds in Lancaster, MA. This is a great venue with good access and convenient parking.
The NEBC Junior Development Team had an incredible turnout for the race with the newest team member, Ari Appel competing in his first cyclocross race and only his second bicycle race ever. Aidan and Noah also competed in their very first cyclocross race as well, both finishing strong. All of the men put in great performances with the team being very active and present throughout the large, combined Cat4 and Junior field.
They started both the Junior and Cat4 Men’s fields together and Brandon sprinted to a solid second place start which he held for the first half lap or so until fatigue started to sink in. The other men chose to start a little more conservatively and work their way up, which they did very successfully. With some practice, which the team is trying to get together and have on a weekly basis, we should be able to work the technique, hone the skills and work on the high end endurance.
As a side note, we had 5 of the team bikes that I have been putting together for the team with the help of donations from the NEBC club members, past NEBC Espoir Team member Chris Li and friend and past NEBC member Rich Wolfe. With some strategic purchases on my part in combination with the donations we have been able to get the bikes together such that the team can experience the thrill and intensity of cyclocross without having to give up their college funds or take on a full time job during the school year to support it. Many thanks to all of our supporters from myself and the team for giving us this opportunity.
Cat4 Junior Men 20 starters
Place First Name Last Name Team Time
3 Brandon Holden NEBC p/b Cycle Loft +0:02:21
7 Ari Appel NEBC p/b Cycle Loft +0:06:29
8 Emil Baungaard NEBC +0:07:51
10 Aidan Kesner NEBC p/b Cycle Loft +0:08:58
11 Ethan Pearl Necb p/b cycleloft +0:08:58
14 Ethan YoungKershaw +LAP
Cat4 Men 94 starters
Place First Name Last Name Team Time
58 Noah Epstein NEBC p/b Cycle Loft +0:07:20
I didn’t know what to expect as I drove to my first cross race. I knew there would be barriers (I had been dismounting and remounting all week). I knew there would be some sharp turns, and maybe even some mud. As a roadie, though, I was out to experience something completely foreign.
I hadn’t raced since August and I already felt out of touch with the race-day routine. I constantly felt like I was forgetting something. I was really just out to have fun though, so I never really got nervous. I got to the course, rode around a bit, pinned numbers and waited. There were some free sardines involved, but I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to have one before the race. Sardines aren’t really something you’d want to taste when you’re deep in oxygen-debt.
As we pinned numbers my teammates wondered how I had gotten such a low number when this was my first cross race and I hadn’t yet accumulated points . When we lined up I discovered that things weren’t as good as they seemed in this department – they were lining us up in descending order. As my teammates made their way to the front (they lined juniors up at the front, but I’m just past the junior age limit for cross) I sat on my top tube in the second to last row, wondering if I’d be able to pass all the people in front of me.
A hint: I wouldn’t.
The whistle blew and we were off. I tried to move up as many places as possible while still on the paved section, but I still ended up way back. We packed in tightly around the first few turns, most people getting off to run the tight switchbacks going up the only climb on the course. By the time we hit the first set of barriers, people were spreading out. I settled in and tried to pass people wherever I could. The racing was hectic and I was always in the action. Though my bike looks like a road bike, this was nothing like a road race.
I spent the next few laps accelerating out of corners, trying to move up and trying not to get passed. There were some slightly muddy sections but they weren’t a problem. After the uphill switchbacks in the third lap, I tried a new line through the downhill off-camber corner and I slid out. I quickly got up and ran up the hill, but I had already lost five of the places that I had fought so hard to get.
For the remainder of the race I took the corners a little more cautiously, eventually gaining back a few of the places I had lost. As I crossed the finish line for the 4th time I was relieved to hear the bell and took the last lap as hard as I could. I passed two more people over the second set of barriers and rode in to the finish.
I had completed my first cross race! The only thing I could say in my anaerobic haze: “Cross is HARD.”
Last Sunday, in Lancaster, was my first cross race. I went into the race knowing pretty much nothing about cross. During my practice run of the course, I got a decent feel for what the race would be like. An hour later, I was at the start line. At the moment, I didn’t quite understand how important the hole shot was. I figured it would be dumb to waste my energy accelerating. Everyone blew by me in the first few hundred feet. Lesson 1 learned. The race went on, and I got settled in around the middle of the pack. As the race spread out a little, I started to form mini-races with the people near me. I learned to pass as many people as possible on the straights, because you won’t get another opportunity. The race went on unpredictably from moment to moment for the rest of the 40 minutes. I fell, I passed people, I got passed, I saw others fall, I heard the spectators cheering, and in general, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I finished in the middle of the juniors, and went home satisfied. Throughout the season and the next few years, I hope to learn more about the sport, keep training, improve, and eventually win a race. I am extremely happy to be part of the cycling lifestyle. Since I first seriously got into cycling about 6 months ago, training, bikes, bike shops, rides, and everything having to do with cycling has been all I do and all I think about. I am very grateful to NEBC, everyone I have met in the club, and my friends and family for providing the help, support, and tools that allow me to keep it this way.
The days leading up to the MRC CX Race included riding a cross bike for the first time, learning that dismounting and remounting is much harder then it looks, and discovering how hard cyclocross really is. The morning of the race, for the first time I actually got there earlier then expected. The first thing I noticed was that the whole culture and vibe to the cyclocross community is different then the road. Everyone seemed friendlier, more relaxed, and excited to have fun! It was really nice to see people from different teams talking and hanging out with each other, as well as everyone cheering on the racers who were currently racing.
After the masters race, Noah and I went to go pre-ride the course. The first part had some extremely tight uphill turns. Followed by a fast descent into another tight turn into a steep uphill. I knew that I would have difficulty with this part, not due to my fitness, but rather, due to the fact that I still haven’t figured out exactly how the team bike that I will be riding handles.
After we finished pre-riding the course, we hung around, pinned numbers, and did a little warmup across the street on the hills of a farm.
Standing at the start line was very chaotic because I got there late, and was at the back with Noah, and then the officials said that the juniors were up front. I then had to find a way to get through all the other 70 or so racers to get there (don’t want to do that again). An unexpected quick start had me passed by many riders. I had no idea that the race would start in almost a sprint to the first hill. My first mistake was that I was not very aggressive on those tight hills. I was letting people pass me and when looking back that was a bad idea. Then, it all came down to the first set of barriers. I dismounted, jumped over the first one, and my front tire hit the barrier, and made the bike jump into the air. I almost let go… Then jumped over the second one with no problems. Re-mount went “safely.”
Throughout the rest of the race, I found a couple riders that seemed pretty knowledgeable in cyclocross just from watching them go about different places such as barriers, woodchips, muddy areas and the pit (which luckily I didn’t need). I tried my best to stay with them for the rest of the race, usually getting dropped on the barriers.
Overall, I think that I prefer road racing over cyclocross, but I will be back for more.
Also, just for those who didn’t realize, this was my first cyclocross race.
I was really excited heading into MRC II because I was racing in the Cat 4 Juniors race, a race I felt like I could do well in. I got a good, typical warmup in before the race and was feeling good. Juniors got to start at the front which was a nice surprise to me. I got basically a perfect start and got out second behind Ansel Dickey. For the first half to three quarters of a lap I stayed pretty close to him, but I just couldn’t stick with him. He got away from me and I ended up burning myself out too much. I slowly started to move backwards, getting passed by a Cat 4 man here and there. Eventually another junior, Cory Small, passed me I believe on the third lap (we did 5). A little later, a third junior from KMS passed me, putting me in fourth place. I continued my backwards trend until I discovered the magic of drafting in cyclocross. I stayed for a while about 7 seconds behind third place and about 15 behind Cory. Starting the last lap I was feeling good and I noticed the KMS rider drifting backwards. I ditched my wheel and jumped onto his. I followed him around the last lap, feeling good and letting him do the work. I was planning on out sprinting him but I had a good final set of barriers and was able to gap him there, securing third for myself. The biggest lesson I learned in this race was that drafting is important in cx. I thought that the low speeds combined with the rolling resistance would cancel it out but I was wrong. I would not have been on the podium without it. I ended up finished 3rd for the juniors and 11th overall. This was definitely the best race I’ve ever had and I’m really looking forward to my next race.
This was my second time racing at this venue, having done the MRC race a couple weeks before although this time the course was backwards with some minor changes. I arrived a bout an hour and a half before my race to register, warm up and pre- ride the course. I got a good warm up in before race which I could tell helped in the fast start and starting climb. I had a good start and got in a good position, it helped having the juniors start at the front of the pack. Ended up running most of the tight turns on beginning of the first lap, but it started to spread out by the end of the lap. I kept a relatively steady pace pace for most of the race, taking advantage of the turns and downhills. Once I heard the bell on the last lap, I picked up my pace for a strong last lap, catching Aiden and someone from CF at the second barriers and all finishing within the same second! Overall it was a good race and one of my favorite courses.
The MRC Cross Race was great. I had a fun time and did lots of racing! I participated in the Juniors cat 4 race and was hoping for a strong finish. Unfortunately I fell on the last corner before the lap sign. I had never raced on this course before but thought it was great. I should probably have eaten better before the race because I felt as if I didn’t perform to my potential.