This weekend highlighted how lucky we are to live in the wonderful region of New England, or New Belgium, as the Hup 'crossers would call it. We had several awesome race options to choose from, all of which had great vibes and short drives.
First: York Beach Criterium.
A short drive up to Maine on a Friday afternoon and you get
this looking in one direction:
And this looking in the other:
It was a windy race, and it didn't seem likely that a break away could stick, but Megan Guariner of Terry Precision rocked it. She was super-strong, the pack let her go, and a lack of a organized chase sealed it for her. I tried bridging several times, but didn't have the "long haul effort" legs, especially in that wind. (I think she was riding awfully close behind the pace car, but that's just an observation that someone brought to my attention... hmm.) Maybe our team should have all gotten to the front to reel her in, but then we would have just hauled everyone else up with us, and we would have been wrecked for the end, so I just tried to bridge multiple times. In the end, it was too slow in the final 2 laps, so it became nothing more than a cluster through the corners. I find nothing more irritating than when it's so slow in the local races in the final laps. I wasn't up far enough going through the final back stretch so I threw in a last ditch attack, thinking if I went hard and early, well, you never know, but it might be better than the crappy finish I was destined for near the back. I got a gap but going through the final corner, Marianne shot past me on the inside like a runaway freight train. I got mobbed and finished 7th. Oh well, it was worth a shot. You'll never win if you never risk losing. But at least the payout was great and I was still in the coin.
Check out the size of the fields at 9 am!!! And lots of women and juniors, and the best of all: junior women. :) Almost nothing warms my heart more than seeing 9 year-old-girls line up to race on real cross bikes.
Jack and Justin put on a great race. The course was sweet. Red and yellow tape lined the course neatly, the new stairs looked great, neutral support stocked the pits, and the vibe was great. I arrived around 7:30 (yikes!! the best reason to upgrade is for later start times - really!) I wanted to put on a clinic for the beginner women, and that meant early. We had a great crew! I think about 15 women, including two 9 year-old-girls, joined in. Since I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that everyone needed to warm-up for the race, we pre-rode the course and talked about techniques specific to the course obstacles along the way. Like how to do the dismount for the stairs, how to take certain corners, how to ride the sand. After the race, several gals joined me for a dismount/remount pow-wow and to watch the masters race. I met some great cross-lovers whose enthusiasm was contagious. It was so cool to cheer on and help some women in their first race. One woman had just bought her bike the night before and showed up all gung-ho! It was awesome. It's what 'cross is all about, and I really enjoyed being there, helping, and talking 'cross.
Oh! And Jack gave me this awesome t-shirt!
On the front it says "BART WELLENS KICKBOXING ACADEMY."
And if you don't know what that means... watch this video.
(And no, I'm not condoning such behavior, but damn that is amazing how he managed that kick and never missed a beat going into that descent!)
Sadly, I didn't get to race Suckerbrook, but for a happy reason: the Portsmouth Crit!! So, after just a half-hour drive to the coast, I arrived at one of my favorite New England Crits. How lucky we are in New England! Two great races so close. If only the elite women's fields of both races didn't both start at exactly the same time, I would have raced both for sure!
So I showed up at registration in my Bart Wellens t-shirt, and who was the person there to check me in but Jonathan Page's sister! Well, she didn't like the shirt, and almost didn't let me race. But after asserting my support for her brother over the poor-sportsman, she gave me my number.
Suzanne Delaney, my teammate, did an awesome job promoting this race. The prizes were amazing, Megan won an Aegis frame for taking the women's race, and Marta won a watch from a local jeweler's for second! The course was impeccably marshalled, the expo was packed with people, and thousands lined the streets screaming as we rode by. It felt a bit like a cross race without mud and cowbells. :) I have never seen so many kids race! Check out the training wheel division! Kids are the best.
Peter and his wife, Lori, of Jenness Farms gave all the women racers handmade goats milk soaps, muscle balms, and lip balms in our schwag bags!! They like to support women's racing and put up preme money, too! (They did the same at the Yarmouth Clam Fest race back in July, too!) So buy stuff from them. It's awesome soap, I've been using it since July. Oh, and I love their root beer lip balm. :)
After a tough race in which I attacked after a good prime and went solo for several laps, I finished third and got this sweet Bailey Works duffel bag with a picture by a local artist printed on it. (Not sure how I'm gonna split that with the team yet!...) Nothing like winning good stuff to ease the heartache of missing out on racing Suckerbrook. :) I somehow ended up 2nd in the Seacoast Race Series, too, and got a beautifully framed picture that matches the one on the bag. Very classy.
And this last shot I'm really including for Mandy. I think she would appreciate my awesome hair in this picture. Miss ya, Mandy, can't wait to rumble with ya at the races.
It's all 'cross from here on out!
For the upcoming weekend...
'cross in Plymouth, MA, on Saturday and 'cross just 10 miles away from my house in bedford, MA, on my birthday.... More awesome races so near home.
I love New England, I mean, New Belgium.