QuadCX 2013 Race Report
Last Sunday I raced QuadCX, a popular cyclocross race in the quiet Boston suburb of Maynard, MA. I had heard about QuadCX for years-it had a good reputation for being a fun race. But beyond that, I knew nothing more of it.
The #NECX scene (New England Cyclocross) is hot, hot hot. These are the cool kids of the sport. I’m a native of the Boston area, growing up less than 10 miles from downtown Boston on the North Shore. But since moving to western Mass more than 20 years ago, I’m not completely in the loop. Plus I’m old. Like, I have a kid old. Still, if the #NECX scene says QuadCX is a blast, then believe them. They know the deal.
I signed up for the race at the last minute, about 2 hours before registration ended Friday night. Normally I have some mental prep time before an event. This time I was really not in the racing state of mind. I hadn’t had a decent bike ride in what felt like weeks, and felt largely unprepared.
I arrived at the Maynard Rod & Gun club plenty early, registered, and then tried to pre-ride. The race organizers were busy still building the course, so the little group of women I latched onto would ride a part of the course, then it would evaporate. We improvised until the rest of the caution tape went up and the course was complete.
Maybe it was the last minute-ness, or the uncertainty of the pre ride, the early hour, the lack of coffee, the not-sleeping-in-my own -bed factor…or maybe it was discovering exactly how technical the woods portion of the course was–but I wasn’t feeling super confident about the race. My head wasn’t screwed on right. I had to quickly embrace a “what-the hell” attitude lest I beat myself up with nerves. I headed over to the start.
At the start, I ran into a friend I didn’t expect to see. She was running late, needing help with her number, holding a bag of gear, her bike, and a smartphone with a recently shattered screen. I pinned her number for her and she ditched her stuff and lined up for the call up with me. While I was waiting to begin, my long silent co-blogger Heather showed up to watch the start. I haven’t seen her in ages and it was great to see her in the crowd.
On the whistle, I had a great start. I clipped in immediately and was surprise when there was no one in front of me. I thought, “this can’t be right,” and like tempting fate, my cleat disengaged from my pedal and I faltered. Racers swarmed. I corrected and jumped on, still in a decent position. But when thinking back, it could have been so much better….
Then I raced. There was some contact on climbing hairpins and a run up. Nothing serious but I lost some time in these minor snarls. There was a sand pit with a hairpin that I thought I’d run, but somehow I pedaled through it each time. The lead group thinned and pulled away through the first lap and a half, and then I found myself somewhat alone. In the woods, I lost any apprehension I had during the pre-ride and found it flowing and mountain-bikey, with a bit of gnar here and there. It was loads of fun. The grass was deceiving–what you would expect to be smooth was terribly bumpy, with stray holes and rocks in the track to keep it interesting.
As I past the start line for the second time, the lap indicated we had 2 to go. I took inventory of my resources and realized I felt pretty strong. I had someone behind me, but had a decent gap on her. Ahead of me were two women from the Cat 3/4 under 40 group (my group was a Masters group, starting 1 minute behind the youngin’s). After that, I saw no one. So I decided that even though catching either one of these women would mean nothing in terms of advancing me in race position, it would be great practice in closing gaps, attacking, and with luck, gaining positions. The cat and mouse game began.
For two laps I would catch and pass on the woods, they would catch and pass on the grass. The finish was on the grass, so it went that way. Right down to the last little bit of the race where I decided to give it all I had. I still had gas in the tank, which surprised me. 2 weeks prior I was spent by the 3rd lap. I latched onto the rider in front of me with a half a lap to go. We were on the grass but I hung on through the off-camber turns and the barriers. I hung on through the more technical sloping, twisting climbs over the quickly disintegrating earth, I stayed with her through the last turn into the straight before the finish line and sprinted. And she knew it, and sprinted too. She finished one second before me, but it was so very fun. Like I said, I lost nothing to her, she was in a completely different race. I felt I gave the race a great effort and I learned a ton by doing it.
I had to leave immediately after for family reasons, so I really didn’t know how I did. My friend Vicki (who’s race number I pinned at the race start) texted me results….13th of 24 starters, only 21 finished. Does this mean I’m officially in the middle of the pack? I’m a fan of rounding down, so yes. Yes I’d say I’ve finally hit the middle.
Woot! CX season is here!
PS–big thanks to Heather for taking photos.