Written by John Sumner Tuesday, 08 November 2016 00:00
It is great to live where bike races are within four miles of my house in all directions! On a cold and rainy Saturday in October, I was fortunate enough to enter my fifth Downeast Cyclocross race at beautiful Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME.
This race is put on by Rainbow Bike and John Grenier and more whom I do not know well enough to credit here. Team Bikeman's Lee Strout is much involved as well!
This race has been on the New England Cyclocross scene as a UCI Series race in the past, but for the last couple years, a grassroots smaller venue in the upper field. Gone are the lower field days of racing through the cow pasture, axel deep mud, through barns, around tractors, and through the forest.
The upper field in years past was not good for me as it had some painful climbing however, as the years went on, the race has been refined to a point where now, all aspects of a great CX race are represented.
The cat 4/5 race was at 10am. I went into it with miles of mountain biking and gravel riding under my wheels.
This year was by far the best course I have ever seen in the upper field. Rain set in the day and evening prior to this event dropping 4.5 inches to turn the backwoods trail into a sketchy fast downhill through 3" deep mud ultimately leading to a slick clay grind up a carriage road. The grass felt like a wet sponge under my Panaracer mud tires. The chunky nobbies gripped everywhere and I was able to turn with confidence. SRAM components performed flawlessly on this windy, fast, and flowing course. The small barriers were bunny hop material. After an event-less race without any issues in the mud, I was happy with a mid pack finish for my first 2016 CX race.
Later, I entered the Master Men and was planning to ride for fun more than race. Rick Nelson from Bikeman was also on the start grid. The beginning was fast and I was with the pack. However, as time wore on, my body was reminding me of how I left a lot in the 4/5 race. I was able to keep some riders off me from the 50+ category whom I assumed would destroy me. That felt good! The good news was that Rick took first and I capped off the race reverse of Rick in DFL. At least my points dropped due to competing in a better category!
Overall, this was a well organized small event with a great course! I completed a total of 12 2.5 mile laps on the day or 30 miles of riding. Therefore, should be better conditioned for Orchardcross!
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