The 2007 "Golden Top Mount" Awards

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 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.


Anonymous said…
Best Runup: Portland USGP. Nary a run up in sight
Sickest Runup(s): Mansfield. Tough & steep with a false flat. Not at all fair
Best Prizes: Canton
Best Sand Pit: Southington… there were three
Best Finish: Power/Wells in RI
Longest Drive: Trenton. Longest trip: Portland
Shortest Drive: Sterling
Hardest Conditions: Portland Day 1. Imagine Phil Wood Waterproof Grease from 2” deep tape to tape.
Worst Crash I Saw: KA in Putney. Didn’t even complete one pedal stroke. Honorable mentions to mine at Bedford and Sterling both resulting in hospital trips.
Biggest Instance of Sandbagging: Curtis Boivin in the B master’s at Mansfied. He made top 10 in the elite race later that day. Shameless money grab. Wish I had thought of it.
Best Internet Scuttlebutt: The ebay auction.
Fastest Barriers: Bedford Springs. Damn those were fast.
Sketchiest Descent: Back side of flyover day two in the rain at Trenton.
Worst Idea: Not changing a thing for Day 2 at Gloucester.
Stalest Richard Fries Announcing Cliche: “(rider name) shoots: scores”
Most Unstoppable Racer: Jon Peterson
Best Non-Standard Obstacle: Mulch Pit at Trenton. Could be easy or could throw you over the bars.
Best Ride of a Runup: The guy I was chasing on the last lap at MBX who decided to ride the sandy hill. Complete surprise and he held the gap.
Craziest Racer: The guy on the HUP blog with the white wolly mammoth kit and pink AXP gloves from Bedford
Stupidest Bike Setup: Any bike with top mounts

I’ve got a few more categories
Best Idea: Moving Stedman to Warwick
Most Improved Course/Event: SBC with Stedman a close second
Best Vibe: Portland. Beer, fire pits, driving rain, drum line.
Best Neutral Service: SRAM. Merlin wins it with his performance on my thrashed derailleur hanger on the final day of the season. Mark was great for me in NOHO, Sterling and SBC though.
Best Cross Website: crossresults. Honorable mention bike reg
Best Starting Order Model: Registration in a landslide over random. MRC system still untested at the big events.
Best Double Header/Weekend: Stedman and NBX
Colin R said…
The best runups are no runups? Whoa, man. Whoa.

Best Vibe: The crowd at NBX when Todd Wells was jumping the barriers
Best Barrier Jumping: Luke Keough at Downeast (1:50 into the video)
Worst Barrier Jumping: Thom Parsons at Canton

Can't argue with your choices for Best Idea, Best Weekend, or Best Website :)
CCC said…
Why no love for compact cranks?
Colin R said…
Why no love for compact cranks

Maybe I wasn't specific enough on this one, I mean people who have a stock 34x50 or 36x50. A 110 bolt pattern with 36x44 or something isn't as bad, although I don't think you need a 36 in New England.

But the reasons a 34/36x48/50 are stupid are:
Low chain tension due to huge variance in chain length.

Easy gear is easier than you need (34x27)

Hard gear harder than you need

Big jump between chainring size means you have to do a big shift on the cassette as well when ever you change rings.

Basically it's just the antithesis of cross. Tons successful racers use a 42 ONLY, having a crankset lacking anything close to a ring that size is foolish.
CCC said…
I know one of your nemeses runs a 46/36 with a 12-25 in the rear and has no issues with any of your points. I do agree that a 50 is too much, though...
solobreak said…
CMan - Don't go all Gewilli on us. You might not need a 34x27, but you're riding up at the sharp end of the race. Many of those equipped with this are going 40% slower than you are, so unless they're going to ride at 40 rpm, they might need this gear. As for the 50 being too big, well, many of them never use the big ring anyway. Their cross bikes might see double duty during the week.

The bottom line is despite what Gewilli says, people are not retards just because they do things differently from you.
Colin R said…
Fine, fine. I should have retitled it "least race-specific setup."

Anyway, I promise compacts won't become some obsession that I end up referencing one way or another in every post, so it won't be a gewilli thing. (*cough* lets race cross in January *cough*)

Nitpick: "40%" slower? Dude, even B women only go 28% slower than Tim Johnson.
solobreak said…
ok, so I guessed. You didn't double lap anybody? (don't assume B women are the slowest...). 20% is still the about the difference between a 34 and 40.

FWIW, my 38/47 shifted like shit so I put a 50 on mid season. Even with a 12-25, I don't think I used the little ring all year. But, this year every course I did was firm and fast. In years past I've been in mud and snow slogfests where NOBODY got out of their easiest gear, and the single ring dudes with the 25 suffered like dogs at 35 rpm. 20 gears is still way more than you need, but it doesn't hurt to have it on there. The only thing I use the little ring for on my TT bike is warming up and cooling down...
solobreak said…
Why did I care that the 38/47 shifted like shit if I never used the little ring?????
Anonymous said…
42 x 12/27
'nuff said
Colin R said…
How'd that 38x16 work for ya on the muddy climb at Natz Schmatz? :)
jcox said…
I rode it every time but the first, which was too bad because that was when I had to watch y'all go blasting past me. Bad for the ego.
But yeah, it hurt every time.
solobreak said…
I think the stupidest bike setup award should have gone to improperly glued tubulars.
G-ride said…
Curtis Boivin did not race the B masters?!? He has not gone near a B race in years. He races A masters and occassionally the A men in smaller races.

Colin R said…

you are wrong

Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross Mens A Cat1/2/3 25 St Refunds Now 4 (187.07) 21
Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross Mens B Master 35+ Cat 2/3/4 20 st Refunds Now 1 (246.07) 19
Anonymous said…
I was there... he raced b master's and elites.

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