Orchard Cross Race Report

(First things first, I wrote about two weeks ago but never really publicized it, so no one read it.  Read it now, or not)

Hey!  Orchard Cross is a good race.   I hadn't done it in a long time (it was actually the first time I ever ran the chainstay cam), and now that it's over 2 hours from where I live, I almost went to Bennington for Wicked Creepy Cross (which is another great race... oh New England)... but the siren song of hanging out on the edge of the money with bunch of fellow cat 2 scrubs was more than I could resist.  So away I went!

The course is noticeably improved from "back in the day," which is to say a bunch of unfun power sections were taken out and replaced by twisty things.  There was still quite a bit of pedaling and sketchy-loose-rocky-sandy turny stuff, so it was legit.  As Adam Myerson said, "this is like a Belgian B race."

One of the "B race" attributes of the course is that it gets narrow really fast.  I do not think starting at the back of a large field would be pleasant here.  Luckily, we only had four rows of guys, and I was on the second row, so I got out pretty cleanly and was off to the races.

The four fastest guys in the race checked out pretty immediately, and behind them we strung out into a party train of elite scrubs, fast juniors, and fast masters.  Super fun mix of guys to race with, and some faces you don't see on the usual UCI circuit.

The official guy-we-love-to-hate-on-the-blog was present, Chandelier Delinks, and I thought we were going to have an epic sixty minute battle, but then he laid down and hit a tree branch (possibly not in that order) and we almost all ran over him and that was the end of that.

Eventually "we" started to have a bit of definition as the party train coalesced into a party group with a gap over other groups, which I also hope were partying in their own, not quite as fast, way.

There was an underage child (Josh Anderson) at the party (it's New Hampshire, what else is new) and we COULD NOT get rid of him with our cat 2 scrub power, he was sitting in like he had been taking racing lessons from ME.  This kid turns 15 in two months (I seriously looked up his date of birth) so, hey, I'm not that good at this.

Luckily for us, Shawn Milne was coming back from a crash and he did what we couldn't, attacking our group with such ferocity that the only person inexperienced enough to try to match it was... the 14 year old.

Josh went rocketing off the front in pursuit of Shawn and then we passed him about 60 seconds later and never saw him again.  In about two years, though, he's gonna stick with Shawn and win the race, which is a hell of a lot better than I'll be doing in two years.

The cast of characters for "party group" turned out to be Kevin Sweeney, Mike Wissel, Kurt Belheumer, myself, and eventually Josh's older brother Jon Anderson (who is better than me NOW, instead of two years from NOW).

Like most parties that are entirely dudes, it was kind of awkward and we didn't talk very much.

I noticed with some regularity that Mike and Kevin (WHO ARE TEAMMATES!!) would hang out on the front, and then the guy in second would let the guy in first get a gap and then we'd have to DO WORK to bring it back together.

Well I didn't do that much work, it was mainly other dudes, but you can hear me lie about it in this interview:

With two to go, the situation had occurred once again, and in fact it was getting CRITICAL as Sweens had a seven second gap or so and it was definitely not coming down.  Fine, I thought, it's time for me GET DYNAMICAL and make an attack, because work had to get done and by golly, I ain't pulling with ten minutes left.

This attack was of course, smoking hot and DEFINITELY gapped fools, although I was going so fast at the bottom of the hill I decided to take the bonus line on the outside of the trees, which turned out to be seriously not faster.

This mistake was compounded by hitting a rock so hard I could hear my skewer ringing in the dropouts, which as always made me assume I had flatted.

I hit my rim a few more times to thoroughly convince me I had flatted, and while I was processing my fluster (flusterwatts:  mysteriously absent) Mike Wissell counterattacked and now both HE AND SWEENEY were off the front.  ARGH.

This didn't lower my spirits as much as it should have because I was still in shock I had air in my tires.

Going into the last lap, I thought we dumped Kurt Belheumer, and then I thought I dumped Jon with an attack, but of course I am A BIG WUSS so they were both right back on me as soon as I backed off a bit because it hurt.  And then Jon countered, and it still hurt so I kinda just let him do it.  Yay!

That left me and Kurt to duke it out in a sprint (with three more places tantalizingly close ahead of us!) and I did what I always do, which is win DA SPRINT.  And it turned out to be fore tenth place, and because Orchard Cross had 600 preregistered racers (uh, wow) they were paying tons of money to elites and I got my entry fee back!

I immediately turned this payout into a beer, cider donut, and a coffee, which might have something to do with the stomach ache I had for the entire 140 mile drive home.
The key to getting pictures of myself is to race in the same group as Mike Wissell, apparently. [Caitlin Wissell photo]


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