2010 Cyclocross Race 4: Great Brewers Grand Prix of Gloucester

In 2007, I signed up for Gloucester. After racing at Quad and not being able to get myself back on the bike, I sat out. I couldn’t show my face at the biggest race on the local calendar.
In 2008, I didn’t race cross.
In 2009, I hit the signup as soon as it went live. Two weeks before the race, I hurt myself during the recon lap at Larz Anderson practice. A calf strain, probably grade 2, left me unable to walk straight. So much for Gloucester.
This year, I got my run base up before I raced, so I haven’t had any significant injuries. I’ve raced enough to get over that freaked-out feeling, though my skills still tend to go to hell when the whistle blows. Heck, I was even just about over the head cold I collected before Sucker Brook. I had no excuses. Time to throw down at New England Worlds.
Thanks to the magic of crossresults.com points, I knew I’d be staged about 9 or 10 rows back. This race attracts a full field, though apparently only 103 racers made the start. 125 registered, and I think we had a wait list, too. I know life happens, but that strikes me as pretty high pre-start attrition. Starting that far back caused me to take a different approach. Instead of turning myself inside out to go for a hole shot I couldn’t even see, I decided to start steady, look to hold position, and not get jammed up in the first turn. We started downhill, which is probably against one of those rules that only Internet trolls know about. After about 150m of pavement, we piled into a narrow, rocky and bumpy dirt chute that fed into a hairpin turn.
Rather than waste electrons on course description, go see the video or check out my nifty GPS view. Though less technical than I expected from Gloucester, that was a really long lap.
My race summary:
Lap 1: I survived the start, made it through the dirt 180 and the sand pit clean and in contact. A few bodies flew in that first dirt stretch, but it didn’t look too bad to me. I passed guys, even on the barrier run-up. I began to entertain delusions of mediocrity.
Lap 2: Washed out on the super-tight, off-camber hairpins after the first set of down-up 180s (with the red barriers). Got up and back on the bike, and immediately felt over the limit. Dialed the effort back and had to let guys go. My delusions left me
Lap 3: Started to feel like I could race again. Found a small group and hung on, then passed most of them. Noticed that my left foot wasn’t really staying clipped in very well. Ran the whole blue-barriered section.
Lap 4: Was alone for the first half, then came up on a group of 7 coming up to the left turn by registration. Cramped on the run-up, but got past about half of group by the finishing straight. Was tight with Jose Martinez from 545 into the final turn. He sprinted, I got a reminder that my left foot wasn’t really clipped in, followed by a reminder that I really wasn’t totally over that cold and should probably go sit down or take some oxygen or something.
Final result: 71 of 103 starters. I improved on my 92nd-seed start, but like approximately 101 other guys who started the race, I’m not exactly happy with the result. Perhaps my purpose as a cross racer is to make everybody else look that much better, but gee, it sure would be nice to finish in the top half one of these times. I’ll just have to keep trying. Comparing lap times, I’m definitely not ready to upgrade to the 3s. I try to keep my ego in check, but getting lapped every weekend might be a bit much.
But everything else – holy wow. Great crowd. I hear the groans about charging for tent space, but really, Club Row is a great idea. It’s a great way to build a crowd, and it’s much easier to find folks. BHCC needs to spring for an E-Z Up. The Masters 35+ race offered up 3 national champions (2 USAnian, 1 Canuckistanian) duking it out at the front. I wish I could’ve stuck around for the Elites. I did take a few pictures. I should do both days next year.
Next up: PVD on Saturday. This will be another big-time race, and if they hold to the order-of-registration seeding, I should be way further up, and I’d better make use of it.
I’m disappointed to miss Night Weasels tomorrow, but that’s the life of a working family guy. I hope everybody gets nice and muddy. That’s what separates us from the animals. Well, except for the weasels.