Written by Mike Benson Monday, 14 November 2016 00:00
This would be my second year racing at the Windsor, VT. The race is located within the confines of Harpoon Brewery’s Artisan’s park. The location couldn’t be better for a cyclocross race. It offers lots of things to do for families between races, including many shops to explore. I loved the fact that, with the sub 35 degree temps, there was a wood stove burning strong in the registration building. This enabled me to warm up my frozen fingers and toes before and after my race. Right next to the wood stove my family watched a chef cook some great veggie cakes in the frying pan and we ended up buying their seasoning mix and recipes for home.
This was a classic race course that offered many good features that had you suffering the whole race. Each lap was about 8 minutes and started with a hard right turn towards a drainage ditch that was waterless. The ditch offered turns back and forth and up and down before a long straight away before a maze of field turns that had your heart pumping. At the back end of the course, there were some small punchy hills that you could hammer right after the crest and gap people each lap. Nearing the three-quarter mark of the race course was a long false flat that, after each lap, made me suffer more and more. At the end of the false flat was a super steep run-up to a pretty smooth steep descent. This lead to another series field of 180 degree turns. As you raced passed the last turns behind one of the Artisan buildings towards the Harpoon Brewery, there was a set of barriers and a quick descent to a hard 180 degree left hand turn towards a sprint to the finish line.
My race started on the front line. Having said this, it wasn’t because of my Crossresults points. Staging was by order of registration. As I looked back at the 50 or so racers on the day, I knew that my start would dictate my finish. At the whistle I sprinted and got the hole-shot for the second week in a row. As we raced through the ditch I was forced into one of the sticks that held the tape outlining the course but that didn’t slow me down. I sprinted as hard as I could to try to open up as much of a gap as I could. As I reached the steep run-up I heard a gesture from behind (i.e “hey Mike”). It was a racer that I had dueled at a few earlier races. At this point, I knew that it was going to be us dueling for the remainder of the race. We swapped positions and actually ended up working together to fend off the UVM racers that began to close in on our 20 second lead. When the final bell rang for the final lap, it was go time. I passed my nemesis and kept him at bay for the final lap. At the barriers near the finish, I could feel him pressing hard but I didn’t want to look back. I sprinted hard to the finish for my first win!! This was a great day. Not only did I secure enough points for a category 3 upgrade, but I watched my son Matt race his hardest and best race of the year during the junior category race right before mine. I was also lucky enough to have my wife and daughter cheering me on each lap. Today’s success was a combination of having great equipment from Bikeman.com and not crashing.
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