Now that the season's over, I've seen a few "what was your favorite course?" discussions go flying across the internet. These are generally pretty silly because part of what makes cross sweet is how every course is different. Nevertheless, the offseason is the time for silly discussions -- so I shall make a contribution.
At least for me, racing a new course each week is better than racing my favorite course twice in a season -- so the answer to "what was your favorite course" is probably the last race I didn't do horribly at. Breaking races down to "best" or "favorite" just isn't descriptive enough for me, anyway.
Without further ado, allow me to present the 2007 Golden Top Mount Awards.
Most MTB-friendly course: Coonamesset Eco Cross. No pavement, barely a straightaway, lots of narrow trails and a super narrow fence line made it impossible to put the power down for more than 5 seconds at a time. (Honorable Mention: Dayville)
Most Roadie-friendly course: Gloucester Day 2. One dismount and the identical course from the prior day? Come on man, I could ride that in my sleep and/or 48t ring. (Honorable Mention: Gloucester Day 1)
Best Runup: Putney. Long, with a technical dismount and big crowds, and the finish line just 50 yards after the top. It doesn't get any better than that.
Sickest Runup(s): Palmer. Not to be confused with "best" -- the 3rd runup at Palmer was bordering on inhumane.
Best Prizes: Mansfield Hollow. It is insane and probably a bad idea to give out a $500 purse (including $150 for 1st place!) to the B men's field. But hey, it's not my money.
Best Sand Pit: NBX Sandpit #2. This one came nearer the end of the lap and had two lines, close by the trees or down by the water. Either way it took a stupendous ride to clean it, or a long, hard, run. (Honorable Mention: Chainbiter)
Best Finish: Jeremy Powers over Todd Wells, NBX Grand Prix. Powers looked like he gave up the lead intentionally near the end, then bobbled the last corner and still dropped the hammer enough to win it at the line... just like he planned it? (Honorable Mention: Todd Wells over Jesse Anthony, Stedman GP)
Longest Drive: Wicked Creepy Cross in Bennington, VT was 170 miles from Boston and worth every one of them.
Shortest Drive: Bedford Springs Cross was only 11 miles from my house, but I was still too much of a weenie to ride to it.
Hardest Conditions: Natz Schmatz Winter Cross. Mud and snow on top of ice, the only question was when you were going to crash. (Honorable Mention: Stedman GP)
Worst Crash I Saw: An IBC rider (Greg Roubidoux maybe?) missing his saddle on the remount, landing on the rear tire and allegedly getting his junk crunched between the tire and straddle cable at Bedford Springs. I saw it from a distance and I was practically sick to my stomach.
Biggest Instance of Sandbagging: Jon Awerbuch winning the 3/4 race at Lowell while carrying around 50 upgrade points, many of them from 2/3 races.
Best Internet Scuttlebutt: The ebay auction. 7000 pageviews can't be wrong.
Fastest Barriers: Bedford Springs. Early season, on a slight downhill in a long straightaway -- I thought I was going to kill myself. (Honorable Mention: Dayville)
Sketchiest Descent: Natz Schmatz Winter Cross. The descent after the runup -- did they even clear a single tree from that, or just drag a rake through the woods and call it good? (Honorable Mention: Bedford)
Worst Idea: Nationals -- course tape as a retaining wall. I'll let this show just how effective that was. (Honorable Mention: Dayville Barriers)
Stalest Richard Fries Announcing Cliche: "Brilliant." Fries himself is an invaluable asset to the Verge series, but I almost went insane when I decided to count how many uses of "brilliant" there were during the NBX elite races.
Most Unstoppable Racer: Lynn Bessette. When you can stomp the women by over a minute directly after racing B Men and getting top 10, I'd say you're pretty far above the competition. (Honorable Mention: John Peterson)
Best Non-Standard Obstacle: MRC Cross - "The Log" -- anytime there's a prime for riding something, I'm pretty stoked.
Best Ride of a Runup: Jeremy Powers at Sterling. The other guys were trying to block him from riding it because they couldn't, he didn't always make it, but he made it when it counted and got away for the victory.
Craziest Racer: Julie Lockhart. 66 years old, takes her teeth out to race. Crazy in every sense of the word.
Stupidest Bike Setup: Compact Cranks. Why does 1 out of every 4 Cat 4's have this on their bike? If you're racing on a cross bike with a compact crank, you bought a commuter bike, dude. (Honorable Mention: The Mini-Vs on Alex's bike)
Got additional nominations? Want to complain about my selections? Let me know in the comments.
In a related note, if you'd like to express your feelings on various cross events in New England, there's a new feature over at crossresults.com called "Skulls and Beers." To quote the news post:
Skulls are a measure of how hard the course was. Some people like courses that are really hard, some people like courses that are really easy, so low skulls are not a bad thing. Just let us know what you thought. More skulls = harder course. What defines a "hard course" is entirely up to you.
Beers measure how totally frickin' sweet an event was. More beers = more frickin' sweetness. Unlike skulls, low beers are pretty much a bad thing, although I guess some people thrive on everyone else being unhappy. So let us know the frickin' sweetness of the event, too -- once again, by your own subjective degrees of awesome.
I'm hoping to gather some data about how many skulls and beers each race was worth this past year -- so if you're looking for something to do, I'd be really grateful if you'd head over to crossresults and rate some of the events you did. Here's a list of all the New England Races. When you're done voting, you can go here to see a summary of what votes have been cast so far.