Written by Mike Benson Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:00
Centered within Riverpoint Park in West Warwick, RI, is a gem of a cyclocross race. In its 9th season, this race was generally a season finale for many people. Now, with more and more races popping up, there are other options that take racers right up until Christmas. The unique characteristic of Riverpoint Park is that it has a dedicated cyclocross race course that allows riders to practice within the confines of a course that offers so much to challenge riders. For 2016, the race organizers (Colin Reuter of Cross Results and Tom Parsons of DirtwireTV) improved the course layout from 2015. Generally speaking, they were able to create a terrific track that allowed frenzied fans to get really close at some of the best course features in what has been called “The Danger Zone”. Some of the unique features of the course were as follows:
- A twisty river bottom section that had you pumping hard through river sand. I ended up smacking a tree pretty hard during warmups on one of the turns around a tree that was right in the middle of the turn. Key lesson – don’t look at the tree or I will run into said tree!
- Stairs that were rideable but required a great deal of technical ability at the very top as the granite stairs get pretty tall
- 2 sets of barriers – One was a smaller set that begged skilled racers to bunny hop them before the finish. The second was on the back of the course just before some really long power sections.
- A nice big fat log – This was definitely rideable, but for me, faster running.
- A steep ride up – Depending on speed and who was in front of you, you might be better running/climbing this.
- A Steep descent – On the backside of the ride up, after 20 yards of spectator madness, you dropped into a steep sandy decent that hooked to the right at the bottom. Many endos here that day.
- Multiple off-cambers – These were well placed because crashes were eminent and often here.
- A pump track – Yes…A pump track that had two options so racers could pass in the bumps
- The Danger Zone – This was where everyone gathered to heckle your favorite racers. All I can say is, WOW! Between the outfits, cocktails, donuts, and everything else that racers consumed at this spot, it was truly a blast to be a part of it. Check out DirtwireTV.
The weather was in the 20’s but the sun was out which softened the bitterness. When it’s cold like this you need to be creative with making sure you get a proper warm-up but don’t freeze to death because you didn’t time it right with the start of the race. Luckily I wasn’t racing until 10:30.
Because this is not a sanctioned usac race, the race categories are categorized as follows: Beginner, Killer B, Jedi, and Wookie. I would be racing in the Killer B 40+ category today which is comprised of mostly category 3 racers. As the whistle blew, I hit the gas and tried to make the front group from the 3rd row. Luckily I followed the right people and found myself pace lined within the top 10 to 15 riders. Paul Curley and company led the way. Well, it didn’t take long to open up a gap on the next group of riders. We pushed on and raced our way through the twists, turns, bumps, ruts, roots, mud, and sand. Many of the riders, who were more skilled in the woods, could separate in the technical features.
As we dropped into one of the multiple slippery (mainly because the mud layers were thawing on the frozen ground) descents that twisted around a well-placed maple tree, the rider in front of me yard sailed and my only option was to ride over his bike. I leaned back and road over his frame and front tire. After that I hit the gas because I knew it would slow the others up. This left me at the very back of the front group. Racing on, I was losing ground to the guys who could bunny hop the barriers, logs, and stairs but was gaining ground in other areas. At the finish, I sprinted hard but couldn’t catch the front wheel of the guy in front of me. I finished 9th out of 65 which I was thrilled with. I would be using my Stages power meter for the first time racing this year. I can’t wait to dial in on weaknesses using the data from my races. My trusty Kona Major Jake performed flawlessly atop my Challenge Baby Limus Tubs. One note on tire pressure for the day. I think I ended up with 30psi in the rear and 28 psi in the front. I think I started with 26/24 but realized there were too many hazards that could cause a flat. This was a good choice because this course claimed a lot of tubulars on the day including 3 from Adam Myerson. If you haven’t raced at this venue, put it on the calendar for next year. The key is signing up quickly because it always sells out. Big thank you to my wife Cheryl for cheering me on and taking pictures!
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