Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Orchard Cross

This was a fun race this year.  Applecrest Farm was open to everyday patrons and cyclists alike celebrating the harvest.  Their farm stand was open with lots of delicious local treats, fruits and vegetables.  Hot cider and donuts were of course delicious.  Everyone was buying them.  For the kids, they set up a petting zoo and a hayride, not to mention the pick-your-own apples and pumpkins.  Burgers, dogs and beer?  Yeah, they had that too.  The farm really stepped up their game this year.  They even brought in a live Bluegrass band.  Super fun times.
On to the racing...
The course starts off on a wide open area of the orchard and winds into a few tight turns before a set of barriers on the other side of a 180 degree turn.  From there it goes straight through a row of trees to a small field and around a patch of corn.  Into the orchard it's up and down a few rows with tricky turns and hidden dips in the ground to keep you alert.  No picking these apples please.  After a few zigzags, you come up to a pump track they made out of five mounds of dirt and then back through the corn stalks briefly.  From there you have to go up a slight incline to the pit area and right back down a fast downhill.  Watch out for the bumps!!  More rows of trees to an access road and dusty sand run-ups near the cabbage patch.  The first two were not rideable at all and barely run-able either.  It was more like climbing up a small cliff.  The third was rideable but only if you got it exactly right.  Many were successful and some created a mess.  After that it was back in the orchard again with 180s and another big mound of dirt before the long uphill quad burner to the finish. 
I had a very good start.  Over the barriers I was somewhere near 25th position out of a lot of guys.  I gave up a few on the first lap as we settled down but it was all good.  There was a really bad crash at the pump track though. I think guys went in way too hot and lost control after getting some air.  Thankfully I missed it. 
On lap 2, near the run ups, someone crashed into me as I rode up the last hill but I was able to stay up.  It wasn't until I was there again on lap 3 that I realized he broke the buckle on my shoe.  It fell off on a dismount but I yelled out and got it back as I came around the second run up.  Shoe hand-up!  It was very loose though and by the time I got to the barrier I lost it completely.  So, I did lap 4 with one shoe and lost a bunch of spots.  I came back around, picked it up and put it on as tight as I could.  Made it through the last two laps and picked up maybe half the spots I lost.
The whole thing was a blast.  I don't even want to get started on the costume race.  Some guy was in a full size giraffe outfit, 15 feet tall!!!  It was the best.  This has always been one of my favorite races ever since I first started racing cyclocross.  I can't wait for next year.
Submitted by Dan