Gloucester! The New England Worlds of Cyclocross
Each year Gloucester happens it somehow lives up to the hype. This year was no different.
My hometown is a 30 minute drive from Gloucester so I always have a place to stay. This weekend was packed with social engagements—I invited Matt & Gail to stay at my mom’s place, and I was invited to a friend from high school’s apartment just a mile from the venue in a Gloucester for a gathering of friends on Saturday afternoon.
So far I haven’t mentioned that I was racing both days, which I was.
My start was solid and a gray mist created a wet surface on a dusty course. The field was crowded and there were spills and tangles and women washing out on corners and crashing left and right. The first lap went fine, but with 5 dismounts a lap, I noticed by Lap 2 my right foot was coming out of my shoe. My brand new Scott carbon fiber cycling shoes with the fancy boa ties were lose. I found a smooth section of pavement and tried to tighten it to no avail. It was busted and I lost spots stepping over barriers rather than jumping because I didn’t want to lose a shoe. That sucked. I came in 48th of 72 starters. I expected to come in around 40 but did what I could do with what I had.
I had a fitful nights sleep and bad food for dinner, and had socialized more in the previous 24 hours than I do in a month. My focus was not on racing, and that’s not what I wanted. Matt was up at 5 and gone by 6 and I was up by 6 and Gail and I left by 6:45am, and my head still wasn’t screwed on. Because I almost always go to these races alone, I realized I use that time to collect my thoughts. I’m not an introvert but I have introverted tendencies and I do like my quiet alone time.
As I warmed up on the course, I stopped at the edge of the park and looked at the sun rising over the bay, the light dancing on the surface of the ocean. I inhaled the ocean air and just quieted my mind. I grew up next to the Atlantic and it brought me some calmness before Sunday’s race and settled me down enough to focus on racing the kind of race I wanted to.
My moment of zen proved successful. I had a decent start and rode smart and relatively clean on a slightly less technical course. The flow of Sunday’s course was fantastic, and things felt good and right. Toward the end of the last lap I passed a woman on the grass. We hit the pavement for the uphill sprint finish and she went for it and passed me. I didn’t want it to end that way, didn’t want to lose what I had gained, and I stayed with her and poured everything I had into catching her. I beat her by a wheel at the finish and resecured my hard earned gain. My heart rate peaked at 195 with this effort. I almost never win a sprint finish so this was a sweet mini-victory.
Now I could relax and have fun! I had a good race and was pleased with the results: 29th of 58 starters. The fog burned off and the sun came out for the rest of the day. It was a good ending to a very busy weekend with a little too much car time due the Boston’s never ending traffic problems. I enjoyed seeing my old friends from school and hanging out and relaxing with Gail & Matt in the evenings. All & all a great weekend of fun, friends and cross racing.
Here’s a few more pictures from the weekend.