Guys Neshaminy Classic XC
by Jessica Buch • July 04, 2022
Mid Atlantic Super Series
Guys Neshaminy Classic XC
Neshaminy High School, PA
June 12th, 2022
The Neshaminy Classic 2022 is a day to remember forever. The weather leading up to this race was questionable. Slated to only run in “light rain,” the forecast left you on the fence until the night before. It rained on and off all week, and the weather man was always wrong about when that would happen. So what do you do? Register with insurance and show up, that’s what!
Well, that’s what we did anyway. In the morning, it was pouring at home in Lewisberry, PA. The radar looked promising, so we packed up and headed towards the big city. Once we started getting close, the flood gates opened, and I thought for sure the race would be canceled, but once we arrived at Neshaminy High, it was merely misting. Racers were filing in and wondering about in soggy raincoats and starting to get warmed up in kits already splattered with mud. A single flash of lightning threatened to call off the whole thing but seemed to be a once-off, and a moment later, the sky brightened.
Little did we know.
Lining up at the start line, five Cat 1 Pro Elite women were ready to brave the storm. A light mist sprinkled on us as we shivered our way through staging. During this same race last year, we were sweating from the blazing sun and heat on a 90-degree day. Just as we lined up for our countdown, the sky got dark, and the rain picked up. GO! We took off against the rain through the grass prolog that felt like it was sucking the energy from you before you could even get started. This race was going to be fun, or something like it.
The trails were rivers; you could not determine if a puddle would be an inch deep or a foot deep. Every corner showed signs of a rider coming in too fast and sliding out. Our group stuck together through the first section of singletrack that started relatively flat but offered no easy-going as you often pedaled through thick mud or against the current. Trying to keep up and getting maybe a little too confident, I went into a turn too fast and could not slow down in time as I slid sideways through the mud before going down on my belly in the slop. If I wasn’t already covered in muck, I was now. Trying to get up and move again quickly felt impossible, and I’m sure it looked as ridiculous as it felt. The rain poured harder as we trudged around the 7 miles of twisty technical trails. This course offers no shortage of log overs, everyone slicker than the last, some holding back rainwater like dams. You also come across two steep wood bridges that take you up and over large logs. I opted to walk both as they looked a little too risky in these conditions. The final major challenge was only present on the first lap as the rain did eventually slow, a small off-camber creek crossing that was swollen to resemble more of a waterfall than the tiny trickle that usually runs through here. I also opted to walk this feature my first lap, fearing the current might wash me away. The 800 ft of climbing each lap was like going the wrong way up a slip and slide, and every root, rock, and log was a test, no matter the size. When you finally crest the last climb and see the field ahead leading to the finish, you might be tempted to feel some relief, but you still need to power through the wet grass that does everything it can to slow you down and suck the last of your energy. Crossing the finish line, every racer looked the same, almost unidentifiable, dressed in the same shades of brown, all soaked head to toe, and every bike the same mess as the next. This race was equally challenging as it was fun. Neshaminy’s 150 acres was, for one day, a mountain bike water park, a race none of us will be soon to forget.
We were scheduled to race three laps, but due to the conditions, we were cut to just two laps; I don’t think I heard anyone complain. I placed 4th out of 5 with a time of 1:58:30, a significant improvement on my time here last year, even with the adverse conditions. It’s time to clean everything and prepare for the next MASS Series race, Challenger MTB XC.