Monday, October 15, 2012
This post could have had numerous titles. I like titles. Blame my years as a hack editor. Its pretty much the only thing I was good at. The other titles in the running were: Why I love racing Cat 3s, A Man in a Chicken Suit Saved my Cross season, When the Bodies Hit the Floor and 976-Evil....We will look at those as sub-heads and will get to all the glorious happenings that happened this past weekend. So yeah as you can gather from option 2 I have been feeling a bit burnt. Typical and a bit of a cliche. We all get SOOOO jacked for CX season then it gets here and we flame out before the snow even falls. Lame. Sauce. I always mocked those people. But it happened to me this year. Not because of training or racing but more bringing the mayhem/noise. You can only crank it to 11 so many times. And while dinosaur rock is a thing I just don't have that kind of stamina. I blame the cat. She has me so sleep deprived at this point I barely know my own name. So call it "Promoters Legs" or lamesauce I was playing the should I retire game in my head a bit the last week.
But then Mansfield Hollow popped up on the CX calendar. Wow. It is THE bar at which all NECX races should be held to. It is a classic. Just has that vibe that so few cx races have. Its up there with Putney. History, tradition, grassroots. More Smiles Per Mile as Uncle Ross used to say. So I got all warm and fuzzy about racing the bikes. Sure the whole drive down Jon and I talked mostly about mtn bikes and SSPalooza but man it was a gorgeous day in the NE. And UCONN? What can you even say about that campus. Gorgeous.
We pull up into the funky little bowl/ amphitheater of a pain and see the crazy offcamber that will be part of the start and just laugh. We park right next to Matt Lolli. Its gonna be a good day. We get out and preride and its beyond belief. They have nailed the course. Its in reverse of what I have done before but has all the elements that I love about it. Woods, sketch, beach/sand dune, crazy levee off camber, log hop, and some fun fast grass. Did I just use the words "fun grass"? Wow. I have a problem. Ok lets call it a soft cross addiction. And unlike in most cases where the only cure is more Cowbell. In this case the cure is a man in a Chicken suit. More on that later. So we get our pre-ride on. We are giddy with the prospect of hopping a log. Its on an uphill and totally doable. But people aren't hopping it. Weird. After being in a car for two hours Jon convinces me to hop on the trainer. Now I am anti trainer. Its seems lame and anti social and too serious. But my legs felt like ass after 2 hours in the car. So I did it. And it really made me feel better. So yeah I may be doing that from now on.
We line up in the Cat 3/4 race. I am having a real nice chat with some guy next to me when I sense the full on secret New England start about to be unleashed on us. I say to the nice guy next to me. Dude clip in we are about to go. He's like what? Trust me dude. Lock and load m'kay...And the safety pin came out of that grenade. Oh yes it did. Why do I love Cat 3 racing? Is it the human pylons that appear at the start of every race I am in? Sure makes it exciting. So as this video shows someone got a bit too excited. Or forgot to tighten their bars. Or maybe all those WATTS snapped that chain in half. We will never know. What we do know is that not 100 yards into it I see a guy taking a dirt nap in the fetal position right in front of me. I am going about 20 mph and boxed in. Nothing to do but hope your number isn't up. My good friend Matt almost made it through. Almost. He had to move a bit and got chopped and went down hard. Thanks to our Kamikaze on the ground I actually got a good start. And I see Jon flashing and slashing up the right side. So I hop on his wheel. Because he has great starts and I don't. He takes us up the steep off camber at warp speed. Then dudes start brake checking. Why people? Why? And Jon and I start falling down the side of the offcamber. I start panicking. He tells me to STFU and pedal. I do what he tells me. Half way down the Supermuds bit in and we are back to the races! The low line has actually vaulted us ahead of the dudes who are all tangled up in the fencing. We dive bomb down the camber and are in good position.
We fly through the woods and down to the beach. We are staying together and moving up. After a sort of sketchy gravel descent that has a quick grass turn Jon loses his front wheel and crashes. Not hard but enough to put him back in the No Fun Zone. As I have learned before being in the NFZ in a Cat 3 race can be No Fun. And on this course it became almost impossible to catch back on. Too many dudes could not handle the woods or the camber or the numerous technical stuff this course asks you to deal with. I call it ALL the radness. Its still confusing to me why so many cross racers can't handle this stuff. I love it. And believe me I am not a great technical rider. Passable but who knows. Lets give the credit to the tires and the bike. So at this point I am in a good spot. Loving the course. Not wanting it to end at all. Then I see the Chicken Man. And I get stoked. And I see Zank and Rebecca and David and get stoked. Then Matt Lolli catches me and we have a good convo and I get stoked. He dropped me pretty good. Not surprising as he is a badass but once again super impressive as he is on a SSCX bike. He clearly has the gearing part dialed!
My friend Jason came through me at the end like a man on fire! So awesome to see one of your friends flying. I tried to catch him but he had wayyy too many watts on the flats for me even to come close to shutting it down. So in a nutshell Mansfield Hollow saved my season. I hopped the log every time. Wasn't always pretty but I never dismounted for it. I dove into the sand dude like a good Belgian. Granted I only made it half way through but the idea was a good one. Afterwards we all hung out said thank you to Ron and his crew. Then went into town and had burgers and shakes. Thank you Mansfield and Chicken Man. Best race ever. And when I came home I was met with a nice care package from Evil. My girls and wife were like umm you got a letter from EVIL. Hahah yes I did ladies. The Shitbird Jersey has landed. Be afraid, very afraid..