Monday, November 22, 2004

Beacon 'Cross

Beacon Cyclocross
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Bridgton, NJ
B race, ~65 racers

Beacon 04 Sand
The Sand Pit

The Course

The start was up a nice slightly uphill road stretch of about 300 meters before a sweeping right onto the hardpacked sand trail system, wide enough for passing but pretty crowded on the first lap. The trails were fast and twisty with loose sandy turns that were fun to slide through at high speed.

The high speed trails dumped you down a fast hill leading onto a lakefront beach. This was about a 100 meter running section of deep sand ending with a tall step to exit the beach.

Beacon 04 me beach
Me and Sean exiting the beach run.

Beacon 04 Beach
This is how the pro's do it.

This brought you by the double-sided pit before bending right and heading onto another section of fast and fun trails. At the end of a particularly fast stretch a 180 degree left fed into a 180 degree right and a set of double hurdles. Once back on the bike you hit a steep off-camber drop onto a short section of road running parallel to the finishing straight.

This was downhill and led you back onto the turf for a quick run down to a hard left turn into a sand pit. When entered at speed this was ridable, however most of your momentum was taken by the end making it faster to run for some.

Beacon 04 more sand
First lap traffic in the sand pit. I'm about to dismount.

Exiting the sand pit brought you past the pit before a left turn into a short, steep dirt climb. At the top you did a 180 and dropped back down into a hard left into the "Amphitheatre of Pain". This was a series of 8 'steps' each roughly 16 inches high. This was painful for everyone and doubly so for those with short legs.

Beacon 04 me stairs
Sean and I on the stairs.

After the remount and a short trail section you dropped down a steep dirt embankment immediately into a paved right hand turn back onto the finishing straight of road.

The Race

I got a spot about 4 row back and worked hard to move up on the road section. I made pretty good progress, but ran into trouble as we approached the right turn. The line of guys I was following got cut off and had to slow dramatically. After watching riders pass me on both sides I found a hole jumped to the right. This got me moving again for about 5 seconds before we hit another logjam at the first tight left turn. By this point the front group was gone.

Once through the turn I got out of the saddle and hammered in an effort to improve my position. I saw Sean and Dusty up ahead and set my sights on making up to them.
By the time we hit the beach the first time I could see them just up ahead. I gave it all I had on the run and made it up to them as we exited the sand. This was a big boost psychologically.

We ended up with a big group barrelling through the sandy trails picking off riders one by one. Dusty, Sean, and I were all staying near the front trying to keep the pace high to whittle down the group. John was also in the group, but further back, and eventually got gapped by another rider messing up one of the sandy turns.

After a while we looked back to see that the group had disintegrated. It was just me, Sean, and another guy. Dusty had been the victim of another blown turn by another rider. Sean and I kept the pace high and worked really well together to share the work. We kept it together very well until Sean dropped his bike at the start of the stairs. I was leading and didn't realize that he had bobbled until we hit the road.

I eased up to get the other guy on the front and left him to pull up the road section to start the final lap. I was hoping that Sean would catch back on, but at the least I was getting a little recovery. Unfortunately the guy got a gap when we hit the trail and I didn't respond. I had him in sight the rest of the way, but finished 6 seconds back in 26th place. Sean rolled in for 27th.

This was my best finish yet in a MAC B race, though 1 spot out of the series points that go 25 deep. The race was very fast from start to finish and a whole lot of fun. After our race we watched the Elite Men's and Women's races. These were part of the Crank Brothers US Grand Prix of Cyclocross and they attracted the top riders from across the country. Read about those races at

At the end of the day we drove to Sean's cousin Phil's house in Northern NJ and ate two dinners before falling asleep!

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