Race Report: Northampton Cyclocross Weekend

This weekend, I participated in my fifth and sixth post-summer races. The MIT Cycling Team participated in the Northampton cyclocross races in western Massachusetts this weekend. With three car loads of people, we had a strong showing.

These were my second and third cyclocross races ever, the first being the Canton Cup race of two weeks ago. Cyclocross is a very different kind of racing than road or track. It requires more technical skills (though not as many as mountain biking), with many intermeditate intervals (like a road criterium). Sand pits, run-ups, and barricades pose obstacles that require one to get off the bicycle and run for a short period of time.

Both races this weekend were USCF Category 4 races, 40 minutes long, at 0830 on the course. Though at physically the same location, the organizers made substantial changes to the course between Saturday and Sunday.

I was less well prepared for Saturday's race. I was sick, did not get enough rest, and did not eat enough. Saturday's course, the more challenging of the two, offered one impossible and one very difficult run, a long sand pit with a corner, and a barricade. My early registration gave me a good starting position, but a lack of agression made me lose many places quickly. I faded with lack of food in the cold weather, becoming less and less able to handle the bike. I finished, painfully, in 34th place out of roughly 95 starters.

Including some cooldown: 11.02 miles in 52:56. 12.48 MPH avg, 30.27 MPH max. Avg HR 154, max HR 175. Avg power 193W, max power 1119W. 613 kJ of work.
Today's course was substantially easier. Many of the corners were replaced with long, straight sections. The sand pit was straight, and therefore, rideable. The runup was also rideable, though I had limited success doing so. I again made the mistake of not being aggressive enough off the start, and was bumped back pretty quickly. With more rest and more fuel, I stayed strong, working through the entire race. I finished a respectable 21st out of roughly 96 starters.

Race statistics: 10.21 miles in 44:21. 13.8 MPH avg, 26.9 MPH max. Avg HR 166, max HR 177. Avg power 266 W, max power 1048 W. 708 kJ of work.
What a great way to enjoy the cold weather.