Last weekend marked the first race of the COTR (Cross on the Rock) Series, and like past years it was held in one of my favourite little towns, Cumberland. One year ago the riders were treated to some horrific, but perfect cyclocross weather as nearly all day it poured on the competitors and really showcased what cross was about. A perfect introduction for someone thinking about taking up the sport. Needless to say, I purchased a pair of Challenger Limus tyres three weeks prior to the event with the anticipation of mud, only to be greeted by what most would classify as summer.
One exciting thing about this years iteration of the event, was the accompaniment of a "CX Crit" the night before the official cross race. Yes, a CX Crit. The only thing criteriumesque about this race was the length of the laps which only took slightly over a minute to complete. Within this minute of racing the organizers managed to squeeze in pavement, gravel, grass, alleyways, curb bunny-hops, and finally, hardwood flooring. That last one is what made this event truly unique as halfway through each lap, you'd enter the back door of The Waverley Pub, zip across their dance, and or dining area, before shooting out the front door and dropping off the front steps. Patrons sat inside with food and drinks cheering on the cyclists with every pass, while many more spectators lined the outdoor sections.
By the end of the race nearly half the field had flatted, if not once, but twice. Many thoughts skipped through my mind as I tried to narrow down as to why I double-flatted. But soon after I began noticing the mountain bikes and fat bikes also losing air, which helped convince me not to take it personally.
Spent most of the evening at the Waverley chatting over drinks before taking the conversation down to No. 6 Mine as a sold out live performance took over the venue. It was nice to catch up with riders from other towns and I did my best to get an early night. I did my best.
Another scorching September day greeted the racers as everyone slowly filed into the dusty parking lot. I grabbed my repair kit, bike, and chair before hitting the sidelines to cheer on friends racing the Intermediate category. Fixing my flats from the night before didn't take my attention away from the stellar race that was brewing. As usual it started off as a bunch, but within a few laps a theme had emerged. Single speeds. By the third and fourth lap, there was a handful of SSCX racers in the top 5 and that's where they would stay for the remainder of the day. The order shuffled around a few times until ultimately Isaac Leblanc found his rhythm and pulled off an impressive win. Justin Bailey rolled across the line in second place with fellow Broad Street / Stuckylife rider, Clayton Webb taking third.
Despite getting a decent call-up, the start of my race wasn't particularly strong. One rear cog larger would have been just right for the quick acceleration of such a dry day and it definitely could have set me up a little better for the whirly section of the course. Just as the pack neared the turn around, the outside rider fell onto the middle rider, which in turn fell on to me. For a few seconds I stood there motionless like an odd lean-to as the two other riders sorted themselves out. Finally we were free, back in the race, and I was thanked for my literal "support".
Only a few moments of chasing got me back up to the next pack, and from there it was all about finding a groove. Over the next three to four laps Mark Karau and I managed to slowly leave behind anything remaining of the group we were in, as we slowly chased down new riders ahead. Lots of work, but it felt great to be gaining ground.
Flat. It's cross, it happens, and it happened to me. Now on my wishlist, a set of pit wheels.
Dont need mud to get messy.