Submitted by Chris Darling
Hey all ‘cross fans,
The Cat 4 Masters 35+ race at the GP of Gloucester yesterday ended up a tad on the “wet” side, rather different than last years course. But this is cross season and is to be expected. The rain did let up for the race , but the corners ,and the really interesting run-ups , were greasy.
I missed last weeks Vermont race so this was my season opener and I made the usual careless preparation mistakes that one encounters at the beginning of any seasonal transition. I was so focused on making sure I made the correct equipment choices: tire pressure, MTB shoes, kit, rain jacket, etc, that I did not fill my water bottle for the trip down. I got there and realized that all I had to drink was my cup of coffee. Not the best way to start a race being under-hydrated. The warm up was great though with no rain, stayed dry, but for some reason was chilled (probably due to my hydration level).
I assume , based on my Crossworld results from last year, I got a front line start. Real nice!
The start was also uneventful as well, barring the usual poor line choices by a few riders unsure of the “friction coefficient” of cross tires and wet pavement. Shortly we entered the start of the tape maze with a nicely constructed run-up stairs section. This was followed by some off-camber switch backs. Making this section required skilled riding or hike-a-bike technique. The only barrier sectioned followed, flat and fast section, just as I was hoping. I had been working on my cross mounts and dismounts this week.
A sand section and more tape followed. The last technical section were the run-ups on the north side of the course. The new run up appeared to be a bridge that had stairs on one side and a ramp on the other side. Really cool.
As I was making my way through these obstacles, I noticed that I was picking off the few riders that were in front of me. A rider from Alpine Clinic was exchanging lines with me for a few laps. We eventually put a 30 second gap on the field. I had led most of the race but a last lap slide-out on a grass corner ate up some of my time. I started feeling some tension in my right hip and the Alpine Clinic rider passed me , no worries, I felt good and I had been riding the last technical sections well. Unfortunately, he was able to get a 10 second gap and I heard the announcer shouting words of encouragement. It ended up being a sprint finish, and I had the disadvantage coming up the hill in second place and just couldn’t close the gap.
Second Place. My best result in cross yet. Really great race and I look forward to JamesTown and CascoBay next week!