Mansfield + Minuteman Race Report

Mansfield Hollow
I found out this year that Ron, the Mansfield Hollow promoter, first ran this race in 1983.  This race is ONE YEAR YOUNGER than me.  Apparently there were a few years in the 90s that it didn't happen, so it's not the longest-running race in #NECX (I think that would be Putney, right?), but still.  32 years and counting of a surprisingly good course on the shores of some artificial lake in middle of nowhere, Connecticut.

Because the race is 32 years old, it doesn't buy into modern BS like crossresults staging, so we lined up in proper scrum fashion, and I missed the scrum.  So that was back row out of almost 40 guys.

And the holeshot was like a 12 second sprint into one of the twistiest parts of the course so... at the back I stayed, more or less.

Then we got to the downhill angled flood-control-log hop and I yelled "hopping in traffic, let's get wiiiiiiild" at Jesse and he repaid me by bobbling his hop and kind of sitting down on my front wheel as I landed my hop, stopping my bike.

Luckily the mass of my body was not so encumbered so I was able to fly off my bike and roll down the hill while swearing at Jesse.

When I got back to my bike, I was in last.  The rest of the race was a time trial as I attempted to ride back to where I wanted to be.  Toiling alone on the course (note:  not my forte, in case you're new here) was actually going pretty well for a while, to the point where I was SO SURE I was catching The Sweens, because the gap was down to 10 seconds and we still had two laps to go, right?

Then we had one lap to go and the gap was still 10 seconds because I only had 45 minutes of riding hard alone in me, and then I stuffed the sand because I was le tired and that was that.  I rode in for 20th out 35 which is, um, not good at all, but I still had fun, and here's a video!

Minuteman Cyclocross Race Report
The two races at Bolton Fairgrounds always end up being courses that suit me, because it's smooth and flat and there's a lot of GRASS TURN SHREDDING.  MRC in particular has tended toward "the turns you need, not the turns you want" over the past few years so I had high hopes that I might be able to not-suck on Sunday.

But then my guts got all weird and I didn't want to eat breakfast but I had to eat breakfast and yeah, you know how that goes... too much portapotty time and too little motivation on the start line.  I let Matt Sousa take the last spot on row two even though I got to it first, which pretty much summarizes how bad I wanted it when the race started.  And when the race starts with 90 seconds of pedaling, followed by five minutes of turning-sprinting-never-passing-anyone hell, you really benefit from wanting it off the start line.

So my lackluster start turned into extreme frustration in a hurry, because when I decided that I did actually want to race my bike, it was hilariously impossible to rectify the situation since the course was nothing but slow single-file turns with the occasional 10-second max-power-sprint-because-we're-all-recovered thrown in.

Protip:  the start at MRC matters, and it matters a lot.  Don't be a dumby like me.

Eventually we got a few laps in and people were no longer MAX POWERING the max power sprints and I was able to move up a bit, and I got like 5 spots into "moving up" before realizing that I felt like crap and bikes were dumb.

Then Cary caught my group, which reminded me that bikes are dumb and friends who are gonna beat you are dumb.

My group was like seven guys, and Cary went to the front of it on the start straight, which made me think "sweet that chump is gonna pull us around," but then we hit TWISTY HELL again and certain people who are not me were unable to match Cary's shredding ability... and now Cary is pulling some people around, alright, but not me because I am now in "the chase group."

Due to aforementioned lack of passing, fixing this situation took a WHILE, but eventually I got myself into free space five or ten seconds behind the Mantis group.  This was the point at which knowing people makes a big difference, because if he had been some random guy from Ohio I would have taken my bad feelings and gone home, but instead he was THE MANTIS and an annoying number of people think "hey Cary's beating you" is a "cheer" so I really did want to fix the situation.

Thus through some character-building suffering I clawed back the group, now containing Chris Merola, Bill Kenney and Cary.  Cary somehow managed to out-turn the group one more time (he was turning really well, it was obnoxious) but this time Chris brought him back and even counterattacked going through the start-finish at one lap to go, taking Bill with him.

Obviously I didn't cover that attack because I am a lazy piece of cyclist and Cary was right in front of me which is all that matters.

So then we go back into twisty hell a few seconds down on those guys, but Cary has been shredding turns all day so we can probably close it back down, no problem!  Except Cary turned back into a pumpkin and exploded randomly at the apex of a turn, and I was a hot tired mess so I couldn't summon up the sick balance move to avoid him... I just jammed my brakes on, tried to get by, failed, and then toppled over him at 1 mph.

Bikes are dumb, friends are dumb.

He got up first but I chased him down and decided that he would pay for crashing us by beating him in the sprint.

He decided that if he was going to lose in a sprint he could at least crash me again, so that's what he did on the dismount for the logs!  This time I didn't actually go down, but I did get to stand there and wait since he blocked the entire course with his prone body and bike.

Then I roasted him in a sprint because that's what friends are for.

I think next week I'm gonna focus on my start a bit more.


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