Tuesday, October 25, 2011


UVM Cycling CX Squad storms Saratoga Springs with 1st, 3rd and 5th
in the Men's B/Category 3/4 Race
UVM Cycling ventured to Saratoga Springs for the SPA:CX race weekend, the first official ECCC Collegiate Cyclocross race of the season.  All of us entered into the Men's B Race, which was mixed in with the Men's Category 3/4.  To put this into perspective, I am a Category 4 Cyclocross racer having only started this season and completed 5 CX races.  A Category 3 racer has successfully scored points in multiple category 4 races and is considered to be an Amateur Elite.  The mixture of Category 3 and 4 in a single field makes for, and during the race, made for a difficult time.
There are no breaks in CX.  Always
moving, never resting.
  The pace started off hot.  With about 70 racers sprinting towards turn one, we began the gentle grass cut grind until the first set of stairs before a long hill, which had to be run UNLESS you were skilled enough to ride up the stairs which would have then set you up for the hill.  However, I noticed that the riders who were hopping the stairs were not getting much of, if any sort of an advantage from doing so.  Other than of course a moment of fame and glory from on watchers.  My personal choice was to dismount and run the hill.
  For the rest of the race I felt like I was grinding uphill.  With switchbacks and hairpins to control the pace, the pack strung out from the first lap.  Any effort to chase towards the front was futile and wasted.  From the small stairs and the run up, we descended and eventually took a long sweeping turn before the gentle ride before the long sandpit.  Luckily, the sandpit packed down throughout the race, making it very manageable.  Just like ski racing, looking ahead, ignoring the ruts and keeping the pressure forward allowed me to tank through the sand at a high speed.
Mud, mud, mud, mud, mud.
After passing through the sand, we reached a brief section of mud before some barriers near the end of the lap.  The barriers came after a quick 180 degree turn following the mud.  Explosive power was quickly smothered by the dismount for the barriers.  Once through the barriers, you were almost home clear to the finish.  All that lay between the barriers and the end of the lap were some hairpins and 180s through the trees and up some small steep banks.
  Finishing 42nd, I know I have a ways to progress.  Finding the time to ride this time of year has been tricky for me.  With school and work I am pressed to ride at night with the brightest headlamps I can dig up.  It's a huge motivation to see teammates do well.  This weekend, in the same race, we placed 3 riders in the top 5, taking 1st, 3rd and 5th.

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