Written by David Keppler Tuesday, 03 November 2015 17:37
The end of October always portends the arrival of the Wicked Creepy Cyclocross race in Bennington, Vermont. Luckily, the commute is only about 45 minutes from my house so I do my best to attend every year. The weather was a bit gloomy, misty, and wet but it wasn’t cold so the stage was set for an entertaining day.
The Bennington Cycling Club puts together a great event in one of the city parks on the outskirts of town. The course incorporates numerous sections of the park including a sand section (definitely longer than your typical sand ‘pit’), parts of the paved walking paths, a long section of off-camber hill, and portions of the lower soccer fields. It had rained pretty hard the night before so portions of the course were a bit muddy and the grass sections were definitely slippery. At the start of the Cat 4/5 race it was "misting" at most and rain wasn't really a concern.
The course starts on the far side of the mid-level soccer fields and our group of more than 40 riders quickly spread out when we hit the walking path to race up a short but steep hill into the grass. We took a quick left past the awards booth and headed up a short hill with a sharp left turn. The newly fallen, wet leaves added a bit of a challenge to the already slippery grass so the sharp corners that defined this portion of the course demanded your attention. The course winds through the upper park and is punctuated by the sand "court". The sand was quite firm and, as long as you kept your turns smooth, didn't claim too many front wheels. A few more winding turns and then the off-camber hill section loomed. The corner at the start of the off-camber section was down hill and to the left and, as I mentioned before, was slippery due to the moisture. More than one racer laid it down around that corner. I managed to stay vertical for the 4 laps that we raced. Back across the hill and then the hardest part of the course for me; a set of 3 up-hill mini barriers that required a dismount and then a 180 degree left turn with a downhill remount. That was the part that got me every lap. Just couldn’t get enough of a jump to gracefully remount my bike (I guess that's not saying much as that prospect is usually 50/50 in the best of conditions). We sped across the middle level of the park and then we worked our way to the lower fields. Right at the beginning of the lower level were the only barriers for the lap. They came quick on the heels of a few sharp turns but happily the remount area was smooth and straight. We snaked our way through another handful of turns and then through a short section of woods to the challenging run-up. The hardest part about the run up was the approach as it was muddy, soft, and required a sharp left turn to get up the hill. Fortunately I find run ups to be one of my stronger skills so I did my best to hammer some short steps and make up a little bit of ground when I could. That effectively ended the lap and we buckled down for the next.
I ended up doing 4 laps and, as usual, I was pretty well spent at the end. The course was challenging and fun and had a plethora of turns that thankfully kept the flat-out-sprint sections to a minimum. The hecklers were in top form on the run up and the whole race had a great vibe, as usual. My Kona Major Jake was patient and understanding as I did my best to push through each lap. My Verge kit was comfortable as usual. There were a few other Bikeman.com riders putting in great showings in some of the other categories as well.
Although the weather was gloomy and a little wet, the scenery was great and the race was run very well. If you get a chance to check out the race I would definitely recommend it as it is always a rewarding challenge. I look forward to doing this one again next year.
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