Written by Mike Benson Tuesday, 29 November 2016 00:00
The last couple years, the Cycle-Smart Race has eluded me due to other family priorities. For one, the 4/5 race was at 8 am and was only 30 minutes. For me, that is a long 2+ hour drive for a race. Thankfully, I would be racing the category 3 race now at 12:45. This afforded me plenty of time to arrive at a decent hour for a couple good warm-up laps between races. Once again, my son Matt joined me. He would usually race but not on this day. He needed to rest for his big Regional semi-final tackle football game on Sunday (They won! 8-0 against a tough MA team). When I arrived at the park, I was greeted by a super kind gentleman that needed $5.00 to gain access for the day. After I found my parking spot, I found the registration tent and bathroom. My timing was perfect. After getting ready, the course opened up and I was able to get a nice warm-up lap in to see what the course designer had planned for the day.
The course layout started in the middle of a large field. From there, the course headed down a long stretch of pavement and then back onto the grass towards the woods and the first big run-up. After the run-up, the course winded through the woods and back down a steep descent. From there, the course really opened up and you could gain a ton of speed heading towards a long deep section of sugar sand that was rideable as long as you keep your speed and cadence. After the sand, the race swept back and forth through the field before heading back up towards another steep run-up which led racers back into the woods for a couple challenging tight, punchy, rooty turns. Once back in the field, we were greeted by two small humps over some train tracks (these were fun!!) that you could get a bit of air on each lap. There were a number of crashes here during the day as people got a little too much airtime. After another series of turns, we were back into the beer tent area and some barriers before getting to the finish line.
Having recently upgraded to Category 3, I was staged on the 5th or 6th row of about 100 racers. When the whistle blew, mayhem ensued. Everyone in a cat 3 race is trying as hard as they can to get as far towards the front in the first lap. Luckily, I raced smart and didn’t overlap wheels and crash. After the first big run-up, the race finally started to loosen up. The nice thing about a cat 3 race is that it’s longer and allows for a fair amount of strategy. After settling in, I was feeling strong and was able to gain 4-5 places each lap. With three laps to go, I saw one of my nemesis from cat 4 and was motivated. I caught him just prior to the big run-up and sprinted to the top. After re-mounting my bike, I pedaled about 15 turns and POW!! BANG!!, my tubular tire flatted and I was riding on rim. After I flatted, I ran down the steep descent and remounted on the flat and tried to keep up but I was losing places fast. Once I got to the pit, I grabbed my Kona Jake the Snake and was off to the races again. I finished 68/95+ racers but should have finished in the high 40’s. Overall, I was very pleased with my ability to keep up and race hard with better talent. As for my Challenge Baby Limus tubular, I later realized that I had cut my tire’s sidewall on an earlier lap and it was only a matter of time before the latex tube bulged through the cotton sidewall and burst. The pictures tell the story.
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