Let’s pretend that NBX day two was snowy. That’s what we all wanted, wasn’t it? Saturday’s rain was supposed to turn to snow and where I live it did. The yard and trees were gorgeous Sunday morning but as I travelled south to Warwick, the snow cover faded to basically nothing at Goddard Park. Boo hoo.
It was windy though, and if it isn’t going to be snowy it may as well be nice and dry, right? Mostly it was with the exception of a straight at the top of the course that had a long section of rutted mud and a massive puddle. The switchbacks were all clean and dry, taking traction out of the equation and allowing me to give my worn out and used up Fangos one more shot at glory before retiring to the Shady Acres Tubular Villa where they would drive slow, dine early, and screw anything that moved like all the cool seniors do now-a-days.
Clothing selection was stressing me out pre race, but whatever I decided to use worked because I wasn’t too cold nor too hot. I made it for call ups this time (first spot, third row), and watched them all ride away on lap one again. The same cast of characters from the day before were around… J. Ferraro, B. Hornberger, S. Roszko, M. Magur, and D. Snoop. Reading back to earlier race reports from this year, the usual suspects were K. Gauvin, A. Starrett, J. Molongoski, and J. Bernhard… but I wasn’t ever really racing those guys… I was freeloading.
Half a lap into it J. Ferraro’s bike was making all sorts of noise and B. Hornberger slipped off the front. Zank was encouraging me to go chase but that wasn’t happening, it looked like the Brant from 2008 was back and perfectly capable of kicking my a$$. Roszko took over the chase duties almost immediately, Magur and Snoop seemed happy to just sit in (this seems to be a theme with them) and I was mostly second wheel with Ferraro back hanging on to our group as well.
We followed Roszko around for 2.5 laps, and could see that he was trying to keep us behind him without bringing us up to his teammate Brant. He did an admirable job of it, I tried to stick my nose in front in the twisty section at 15 minutes into the race and he immediately accelerated to discourage any change in the order of our group. This happened a few times before we all decided to just follow and wait. Our pace was higher than casual but not unbearable, there was really no one to try and ride up to at that point so I decided to sit in for the most part.
Brant was fading up ahead but still had a large lead and Steve was holding us all off effectively. I was focusing on what it was going to take to beat the group I was with, not so much on catching Brant, so it seemed that staying behind Roszko made sense as he would invariably be worn out from being at the front for so long.
With 2 to go Magur was gone and a half a lap later so was Snoop. It was clear that we were making good ground on Brant and still shedding people as well. Still, Roszko defended his position at the head of the group and we were content to follow. Turning onto the pavement at the bell I could see the D. Staffo was just ahead of Brant, and having stuck to Roszko’s wheel through that last turn I was in a good position to grab a quick breather and then roll through to the front and ramp up the pace. I commented to Steve that he is a good teammate as I took the lead over the line and down the parking lot to begin the final lap.
I realized then that I had a chance not just to beat the group that I had been riding with, but that I could possibly make up two additional spots as well. I attacked hard when the course turned back towards the wind. I made it half way to Brant and maintained first position from my group going into the sand where I knew I’d catch the guys ahead. Running up the hill I could sense that Roszko was going to try and get ahead of me again even as I ran right up to Brant and Staffo, so I used the Paul Curley wide bike carrying trick to keep him behind. At the top Ferraro was the rider on my wheel and we settled in behind the new leaders of the group, Staffo and Hornberger. Roszko crashed on the barriers but the rest of us were there and through the woods cleanly. Staffo attacked on the muddy straight at the top of the course, I grabbed the wheel and Ferraro crashed. Staffo and I pulled away getting to the beach with a dozen bike lengths on Hornberger.
I followed Staffo through the next 4 sweeping turns and attacked him on the last long straight adjacent to the finishing stretch, getting to a tight spot first and forcing him to check the brakes at a time when I was out of the saddle and sprinting. I kept on the gas past the pit and rolled in for 18th.
That last effort to get ahead of Dan wasn’t super graceful and I’m pretty sure that my thrashing around may have contributed to him just wanting to finish the race without getting hurt, but I was glad to still have some pop left at the end like that as ugly as it was.
Post race we drank and ate for hours watching our friends race on the increasingly cold course.
Another Effin awesome year of cross racing in the books! I'm not taking ice weasels seriously. In fact, I'm not even going to race.