Today was the MOST FUN RACE of this season.
Shane and I went down to Mansfield Hollow State Park (CT) today. Ken and I did this race last year and loved it (it's part of the Zanconato SSCX series). As soon as my bike was loaded on the car, the rain started, and it didn't stop until after our race. Shane was originally signed up in the 3/4 race, but given the 47 degree weather, steady rain, earlier start time of the SS race and closeted desire to be the SS World Champion, he switched his entry into the SS race at reg. and began contemplating where to get the tattoo.
Dudes in the preceding race were not looking happy: people were pulling out (throwing tantrums), going hypothermic and in general not looking handsome. None of them would ever star in a Rapha ad. That made me sad. But, the course was awesome. It was run in reverse compared to last year. It's sort of a combination of Canton, Downeast and the original Quad CX race.
Big, wide open field start, great transition to the back section via a super off-camber mud slick, series of fast (slick) turns into a sandy section, then out into the back grass section. Back section is very Canton-like, wide power sections, interspersed with rideable sand sections, sneaky loose turns and a series of barriers. The best part is getting up to the top section: a stiff "run-up" with a table-top in the middle. Serious SSCXer's can ride it, others cannot (Shane). Luckily, that is where the hecklers are :-). That leads into a wooded trail section with super-slick, goopy turns into a stiff rise back to the front grassy area. This year there was another long, off-camber section along the aqueduct that I couldn't ride, had to run it every time. Over another set of barriers and into the finish.
No staging, but I noticed Shawn Mottram was NOT on the line and me liked that because at this point we were tied for third overall. Shane was 3 rows back. I went with the 42x18, though my instincts said I wanted to use the 42x19. I think Shane went one gear easier, but he still could not ride the run up. This also made me sad.
Pagano takes the hole-shot, Rowell laughs, I go with Pagano. Rowell passes me in turn 3 and goes on to win after playing with his teammate (Pagano) for 4 laps. Meanwhile, in the "normals" zone, Shane appears out of nowhere, makes eye contact with me in a head to head, and does the point-at-eyes-then-point-at-me move. Significant street cred gained. I knew I was in trouble because he is literally made of carbon fiber this year, bike and shoulder included. Start lap 3 (of 4), I eat shit without warning in an innocuous rolling turn, my crashless streak ends and Shane does not notice and he gives me no empathy. End of lap 3, Shane mumbles something like, "gap behind is closing" and promptly attacks me, gets 'rad' on the next two turns, and the gap behind us is unchanged and massive. Noted. Lots of back and forth ensued, two-wheeled slides in the woods, outriggers and I get a small gap in the last little bit and cross the line in 3rd, 2:00 behind Rowell, 1:45 behind Pagano and 10s ahead of Shane. (Photo attached). I win BEER! But, they take forever to do podiums, so I go cool down, clean up and change and get replaced by a chicken. So fun.
Submitted by Cory