And since it was a cyclocross race, damn it was fun!
And fun is indeed a great way to describe this race put on by the folks at Squadra Coppi. This Italiancentric racing club, based in Arlington, VA, and named after the famed "Il Campionissimo" himself - Fausto Coppi - the Coppi team once a year brings an Italian flair to this very Belgian sport. Italian for "Turkey Cyclocross" to honor the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, this late-season race in is fun event giving a bit of a break to the racers who are near the end of a very serious season of racing.
Held in scenic Ida Lee Park in beautiful Leesburg, Virignia at the base of the Catoctin Mountains, the Tacchino Ciclocross presents a challenging course to the riders. The front side of the course included long paved straights before diving into a field of tight corners, gravel and grass stretches, one dismount barrier, and a series of sharp ups-and-downs in rapid succession to test the strength and bike handling skills of the riders.
And of course, there was fun. As always, the big Turkey stuffed into a Squadra Coppi kit (no, really, some guy dresses up in a big turkey suit) was on the course to humor and taunt the riders. Nothing like trying to get a laugh from a guy who's searing lungs are one breath away from explosion. And The Complete Jewish Cyclist got some recognition today also! The primes included a suitcase of meats originally billed as "The Suitcase of Sausage", but redubbed as "The Jason Pearlman Memorial Hebrew National Prime" on account of the somewhat kosher Hebrew National Franks mixed into a prize basket of obviously not kosher fare of bacon and sausage. The "Memorial" was soon dropped after it was discovered that I was not actually dead. I didn't win any primes today, but the Unholy Roleur himself, Jim, charged me with walking the suitcase itself - one of those metal secure attaches complete with handcuffs - over to the organizers table. Still, it was nice to hear me name over the loudspeaker, though next time I'm gonna go for something more like "Jason Pearlman is tearing this field to pieces without mercy".
And, of course, there was racing to be done.
The start of the Men's Cat. 4 race was at 9:00 AM under cold blue skies and air set at a cool 30 degrees. I opted for knee warmers and a simple base layer under my Team Bike Rack kit, in addition to doubling up on socks and gloves. I held at the rear of the field on the first lap, avoiding the falls. Working myself midway into the field with three to go, I defended my position while avoiding one of the many riders who went down in front of me on the backside of the course on the tight corners leading into the climbs and descents. I moved up some more with two to go, lost two vital placings after that, but then surged to take over one rider on the last lap to get myself into 20th position. After finishing 44th here last year and not on the lead lap, this year's race was a big improvement, and many thanks as always go out to my family for their support, my friends for their encouragement, the Bike Rack DC for helping me get into 'cross, and HaShem for bringing me to this point.
'Nuff said. Here are some pictures of the day. Apologies for not having too many pictures this time. I took off after the results were posted, and spent the rest of the morning exploring the charming historic downtown of Leesburg with my family, enjoying the warm indoors of the Georgetown Cafe and the quaint shops along the mainstreet.
Early in the race, joining into a group as the field begins to string out. I'm sitting just behind the Bike Lane rider in red and black.
Sitting on the wheel of a Bike Lane rider, waiting for the right point on the course to make a move.
Last lap now, into 20th position and fighting to keep my position after pacing a rider just a few moments earlier.
"The Suitcase of Sausage", which on raceday became the "Jason Pearlman Hebrew National Prime", awarded to the riders leading certain laps. The only possible kosher meat of note here are the Hebrew National Franks. Hebrew National is now certified kosher by the Triangle-K under the auspices of Rabbi Ralbag, head of Kehilat B'nai Yisrael in New York City, himslef having learned at Yeshivat Etz Chiam and the legendary Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav (pretty awesome things to have associated with a prime sprint in a cold field in northern Virginia).
The Unholy Roleur himself, Jim, is an incredibly friendly guy, and no MABRA/MAC race is complete without his prescence. Big thanks to him today on injecting this race with some good humor, even if it led to my friends taking the joke further that the wieners were circumcised (hey, if you want a deadly serious tone, go to a road race; if you want fun, hang out at a 'cross race). And of course, big props to Jim and the Squadra Coppi for once again putting on an incredible race and a great day for the MABRA/MAC cyclocross scene.