Tag Archives: Chris Darling

New Gloucester Cat 4 race report

Submitted by Chris Darling

New Gloucester proved to be a true test of bike handling skills  with the amount of mud and grass accumulation on the bike. Equipment failure seemed to be standard for the day with close to 25% of the cat 4 field DNF with broken dérailleur and hanger combination. The weight of most bikes was 10-12 pounds heavier than when the race began. Even after a post-race wash there was still 1/2 pound of grass in my drive train.

Anyway, the weather was typical fall condition, a tad on the warm side (55 degrees) but very wet in the field sections. The cat 4 race began up the paved hill into a right hand turn. I had started the day with close to 40 psi in both tires, not thinking the early grass sections would be slippery. This hypothesis proved incorrect as I was first into the turn onto grass and proceeded to crash into the first off-camber hill. Reacting quickly I was able to get back on the bike without losing my position. After a brief exchange of positions with a rider from Colby/Kissena Cycling club, I took the lead again and tried to open a gap.

I was able to put 30 seconds between myself and Chris Syer from Bikeman.com for the next few laps. As I was coming around for another lap I saw that the officials were in the process of changing lap cards and I was unsure where we were in the race. I heard the bell lap over my shoulder and tried to focus on not “fading” on the last lap.
It was really encouraging to hear all the OA riders behind the tape cheering and encouraging their teammates. Paul Weiss was offering some great advice as I was passing by “only critical shifts, only when necessary”. Seeing the amount of bike attrition that day, this was definitely important. I was able to spin the remainder of the last lap with minimal shifting and was able to enjoy the gap I created and coasted home in first place. My first place finish yet this year. After taking two second places at Gloucester and CascoBay races, this was a much enjoyed bonus.

I hope this qualifies for an upgrade so that I can join the ranks of the Masters 35+ field. Thanks again OA folks for coming and watching and cheering for the “early race”.

Grand Prix of Gloucester Oct 1, 2011 – Cat 4 Masters 35+ – Race Report

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!