(Note: There are pix at the end of the race write-up, so scroll down if you want to get right to the action)
Today's race was the Kelly Benefit Strategies Cyclocross at Rockburn, held at Rockburn Park in Elkridge, MD. Last year, this was the final race on the calendar, and this year the race moved up from mid-December to the beginning of November. Not only was today's warm and sunny conditions a contrast to last year's cool, raw weather, but the field entries also grew, on trend with the overwhelming and growing popularity of Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross. I missed the race last year in order to spend time with family and celebrate Chanukkah, so this was a race I was looking forward to doing this year.
The course was nothing short of awesome. A long parcours at 3.3 kilometers, the circuit was dry and fast, with challenging climbs, rapid descents, ripping-fast singletrack, twisty bends, and varied terrain for technical fun (gravel, rocks, sand, grass - you name it, it was there). It was a course which demanded power, speed, brute physicality, and bike handling skills ranging from confident to sharp to agile. In short, the organizers laid out a smart, challenging, fluid course which was fun to race.
As for me, I came into the race with a 19th place finish in last week's DCCX. Following the same strategies of last week, I eased into the first two laps, and ramped it up in the ensuing laps. I worked my way into the group of riders I knew I would be with to the finish, came into the next to last lap in 28th position, then fought to stay in the top 30. On the bell lap, I pushed it to move higher, and in the final straight, lost out in a sprint with John Scott of BBC Velo, but ended up in 24th overall.
Then the day came crashing down.
I went to see the final results, only to find my name at the bottom without a placing. I tracked down race officials to see what happened. Over the next two hours I found myself all over the venue talking to different judges, some who had records of my lap positions, others who didn't. Stranger still, a later posting of results had me in 14th place, which enraged me even more. 23 riders beat me, and I wasn't about to jump the positions of nine of them falsely. Despite protests, this seems to be the final result according to the officials, but as of this time, I still don't know the final results.
Oh well, I finished 24th as far as anyone is concerned. Enough of that now - the day was awesome, the racing was exhilarating, and the CX scene as always was the bastion of the coolest people around. That's it for the prose, here's what you really want: Pictures!
Pre-race smile. Cyclocross racing will wipe the smile right off your face, but I still took a moment to enjoy the pleasant autumn conditions of today's race.
Here I am working one of the many tricky bends around this well-designed course.
Running the double barriers at the top of the hill.
One of the great things about cyclocross is the friendliness of the scene and the people we meet. For me, a raceday is not complete without guys like Michael Giancoli of Hup United and his dog Elwood. Mike has been riding well all season, and according to DataTracker, is my "Arch Nemesis". Giancoli scored 13th today in the Cat. 4 race. Check out his blog "The Muddy Dog", found in the blog rolls to the right.
CeraSport, a new nutritional supplement company , was on hand at Rockburn to show their new line of electrolyte drink mixes. When they offered me a sample, I simply inquired if their product was kosher...
...and oh yeah it is. The OU symbol (Orthodox Union) says it all. Rejoice, kosher cyclists (and cyclocrosser), the market for kosher energy supliments is growing all the time. Cerasport joins Hammer and Clif as one of the few companies to offer kosher energy products, and I will have a review of their products in a future posting on The Complete Jewish Cyclist.
I stuck around for the Mens Cat. 3/4 race to enjoy the action and to snap some shots for my friends in action. Here's two of them: