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Casco Bay CX - Portland, ME

Team Bikeman - Race Reports

The Bikeman.com Casco Bay Cyclocross race is held on Portland’s Eastern Promenade and it’s hard to imagine a more scenic location for a race. Even in the heat of the race, it’s hard not to appreciate the view out over the bay. This year’s event was attended by around 180 racers which was a little more than the year before. This race seems like it has the potential to become really popular and hopefully it will continue to grow.

This was also my first ever cyclocross race. A year ago, cyclocross wasn’t even on my radar as far as things I might like to do. But over the winter, I watched a lot of cyclocross videos to make the trainer rides less mentally painful and started to get the bug. One word: mud! The weather for this race was clear and cold and the course was pretty dry, though. Probably not a bad idea for my first race.

Even though this is one of the closest races (of any kind) to where I live it was still roughly a two hour drive to get there. I left early though, and got there in plenty of time to get in a few warm up laps with fellow Bikeman rider John Karod (also in his first cx race). Then it was time to line up for the start of the Cat 4 race where I got to meet some more of my teammates for the first time.

Because Bikeman is the title sponsor of this event, they gave us preferential treatment in call up. I let some of my more experienced teammates take the front rows but I still ended up in the front half of the pack. Unfortunately, I quickly squandered this and was practically dead last by the end of the starting straight. My previous two races were 100K and 12 hour mountain bike races, so I really haven’t been practicing fast starts.

I managed to recover, though, and slowly moved up throughout the race and finished 35th out of 63 which pretty much met my expectations. My new Kona Jake the Snake was a joy to ride and handled beautifully. My only mishap occurred on the first lap in the steep off-camber near the tennis courts. I was pretty comfortable riding it but the rider in front of came off and somehow managed to hook his drop bars through the spokes of my front wheel. I lost about five spots untangling myself and then noticed that my handlebars were now out of alignment. I decided it wasn’t bad enough to stop to try to fix it, though. After the race I discovered that the stem bolts were sickeningly loose and I could easily move the bars side to side. Whoever did the final assembly on my bike should really think about investing in a torque wrench! (Oh, right, that would be me). In any case, all’s well that ends well.

Overall, this was a great first taste of cyclocross and I had a blast. The course is really fun, with a few technically challenging sections on the descent and a great, steep, greasy run-up. Afterward I stayed around to cheer on my teammates, and the other racers, in the women’s race and men’s Cat 1-3 race and see how it’s really done. And, got to enjoy the incredible setting a little more. Hope to be back next year!

 

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