Granite Gorge CX Race Report
The new definition of insanity: Waking up at 5AM on a Sunday to drive 150 miles to compete in a 30 minute CX race. It helped that recently silent co-blogger Heather offered to play photographer. Granite Gorge is a small ski area in Roxbury, NH (near Keene) where there has been a recent push to make it more of an all season multi-sport recreation area. They are doing a series of dual slalom mountain bike races, and are giving cyclocross a try.
The race site was easy to find and although parking was limited, we arrived early and got a great spot. My race was the first of the day at 9AM. I wore the winter skinsuit for the first time ever. It was 42 degrees and we had showers pass through the night before, making the grass of the course dripping with cold dew. I got on to pre-ride right away. The course wasn’t “broken in.” There were no established lines, grassy, rutted and incredibly hilly terrain. They made use of a small footprint of their ski area by packing in the most off-camber turns I’ve ever experienced. Building them into the ski slopes made them even more challenging. There were only 2 spots where any kind of speed could be achieved. I wiped out on the preride on the slick grass, which I took as a sign. I felt clumsy during the preride, I couldn’t find a rhythm. I don’t know if it was the early hour, the lack of sleep, or lack of coffee. I also needed a trip to the restroom, which I was denied because whoever has the keys to the lodge was late getting to the race so the bathrooms weren’t open until I was into the first lap of my race (Points off for that….)
It was a scrum start with the juniors lining up after the Cat 4 women. I wasn’t in the front line but after the whistle blew I was # 6 into the first set of turns. Then, not 100 yards from the start, my first mishap happened. I got tripped up on a short steep sandy rise. I corrected, but the I’m sure the women right behind me weren’t happy about the sudden stop. Then, a turn later, I swung too wide and my handlebars became entangled in the tape. I lost a lot of ground when that happened. After that, I realized that with a 30 minute race, there wouldn’t be too much recovering possible. I chased a rider for a lap and she finally shook me loose. I caught another and passed her on the 3rd lap, on a hill no less. The was the only position I was able to regain. Other than that I was riding alone, with a vague awareness that I wasn’t last but wasn’t in the middle of the pack where I should have been. Instead I concentrated on riding the course as smoothly and efficiently as I could, which was hard on this course. So much of it was disruptive and difficult. I tripoded the corners often. I became unseated more times than I can remember. I dismounted a minimum of 4 times a lap (laps were only 1.25 miles/each with 2 sets of barriers). I ran the bike through spots where I became unseated to try to regain lost momentum but it was a losing battle. My best lap was the last lap (lap #5) where I had finally mastered a few of the trickier turns (but not all of them).
There were 12 women racing and I had wanted to come in 6th. Race predictor thought 6th and I thought that was fair. Alas, I came in 9th. It could have been worse, but it most certainly could have been better. Meh, it happens. I had a lot of fun and hanging out with Heather was a long time coming. I also met a lot of great folks, which has been one of the best things about this sport I’ve discovered.
Notes on Granite Gorge:
- Crazy hilly course. Most intensely mountain-bikey course to date. Even more than Silk City. Wouldn’t hate it if this was toned down a bit.
- A 40 minute race would have made this a little more for the money, and the travel.
- Bathrooms should be open when registration opens! Riding with a full bladder was a tad distracting.
- HIGH marks for camp factor. Loved the Halloween decorations, the taxidermy coyote, the dummy snowboarder, the random VW Buses. Fun.
- They had a representative directing parking. This was a good organizational indicator. He was friendly and gave good directions to racers looking for registration.
- Great people, as always.
I hung out after to snap some shots. The men are Cat 4/5 and Masters. Heather took the photos of me (thanks Heather). Then she introduced me to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries in Keene. Greasy hamburgers after this intense little race hit the spot.
PS–More photos below!