Gloucester Massachusetts was beautiful. If you have never been, I suggest you go. It is not the Grand Canyon or even as sweet as Mount Hood but on a perfect summer weekend, the picturesque New England fishing village teeming with heritage, an epic rocky coastline and beautiful classic homes made me want to stay longer. The streets are a tangle of alleys and secret walkways; there is a quaint (yes, quaint) little drawbridge on the main road to the USGP of cyclocross racecourse that I had the privilege of being halted by in my warm up. I stopped for a couple minutes, and stretched the legs and hips. I was feeling really nervous about doing a good ride on Sunday. A lady friend of Tom McDaniel’s rolled up next to me and said hello, we got to chatting about her bike and upon quick inspection I suggested she turn the tread of both her tyres around to face “forwards”. She was a little nervous too; and mainly not sure of what to expect from her race. “It is my first year racing cross!” I always think the women’s races are the most impressive. Men’s racing is standard; they are socialized to geek out over bike parts and tread patterns, start times and race categories. They have years and years of aggressive, competitive behavior to draw upon, they know how to respond when someone elbows them, they understand the concepts of “burning matches” and “cleaning plates”. The women’s fields at the USGP and the Cyclocross Crusades are epic! Cross is so damn accessible, most women can pretty quickly build a basic level of skill and fitness and go out and have a decent time! She was complaining about her brake squeal and the lack of a decent cyclocross versed shop in her town. So I took a quick look and made a couple suggestions. “At the end of the day, it is not gonna matter which way your tyres are pointed, you just have to go as hard as you can.” The drawbridge lowered and we got back into warm up mode. Focused. Preparing.
Tom rented us a hotel room with a view of the ocean. The Vista. Ryan Leech and Tom drove up from Philly and picked me up at Adam Myerson’s apartment. In addition to being beautiful, Gloucester is fucking expensive! ($12 burritos for dinner) Tom blindly made the hotel reservation and I found out a little late how expensive it was! Ouch! At least I lucked out on the flight to Boston and did not have to pay for the bikes. Eighty bucks on the way home! I think the woman just pocketed the cash too. God, the Boston airport is a mess right now.
The dry and fast cyclocross courses are not entirely to my suiting. They are damn good training; you can rarely push yourself that hard at a cx practice. But, when Chris Horner comes barreling around you; you wish there was a freak rainstorm to give you back some sort of competitive edge. I am happy about my race on Sunday. Not thrilled, but satisfied. I should have taken the sprint at the end, but I gambled on being able to bridge up a few seconds to Jaques-Maynes (who had done a couple bike changes in the last lap) and went way too early, just giving up the place to some Redline rider. He did not get JM either. I think an important thing about racing cross is being versatile and at least I am starting to feel like I can hold my own on a dry, fast, grass course.
I just got to watch my bike box being loaded onto the airplane from my window. It is not a brutal as you would think; I am still damn glad that I have my hardcore flight case…