Cycle-Smart International Race Weekend

The short version: great weekend. Solid and most excellent racing by Marc. Fun times had cheering on friends by me. All in all – a most excellent weekend was had in Northampton/Hadley.

It had been a long time since I’d been lucky to make the trip down to Northampton for the Cycle-Smart cyclo-cross race weekend. These races always feature lots of fun (i.e. challenging) twists, turns, ups and downs. Throw in a few sand pits and a few long power sections punctuated by roots and some super fast barriers and you have some excellent cyclo-cross courses and racing.

Rumor has it that there were over 800 racers registered for the two days of racing! This is very impressive and speaks well to the growth of cyclo-cross in all categories. Since I wasn’t racing, I was able to take in lots of the race action before and after Marc’s races.

Apart from watching Marc race, I really enjoy watching the women’s 3/4/masters race. I’m always impressed with the number of women lining up at 9:30 in the morning to race in often chilly conditions. This combined category brings with it a wide range of skill level, fitness and experience – making it interesting to watch. The front of the race (top 10 or so) are quite quick and often have some pretty strong bike handling skills – no fears of leaning into corners, ripping down descents and hitting the barriers at top speed. The race does get quite strung out but I find that the more competitive it is at the front of the race – the faster the middle and back-of-the-pack races. This all contributes to continued growth and development for all racers – the leaders are pushed from behind and those chasing are digging deep to catch the wheels in front of them.

The other thing I like about this race category is that these women really appreciate the cheering. The elite women’s and men’s categories always have lots of spectators and fans – but the women racing in the 3/4/masters category don’t typically have a deep fan base.

Along with cheering on Marc, Cathy, Mike, Natasha, Derrick, Al, Mike and a whole bunch of other people, I was lucky to catch up with lots of my “cyclocross friends”. It is so refreshing to catch up and find out how things are going on and off the bike. An extra bonus was bumping into my old coach Steve Weller – such a treat to chat with him.

Away from Look Park, I seemed to spend most of my time at Whole Foods Market… After hitting up the hot and cold food bars at Whole Paycheque for two days in a row, I promised Marc that I would not shop at this store if and when it arrives in Ottawa! It is super tasty and high quality food but darn expensive…

Yes, a good weekend was had. In fact it was so good that I started wondering aloud about racing at the 23rd Annual Cycle-Smart International race weekend in 2013…

Here are a few pictures from the weekend:

Marc warming up

Cathy out of the saddle digging deep

Max the travelling cyclo-cross cat

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