Since I’m not that stoked on writing up the play-by-play of bike contests this time of year we’ll go for the overall synopsis program for these few races. The races in question being the USGP Mercer Cup and NACT Southampton weekend. Both of these races take place within a stone’s throw of The Big Apple, making getting to and from them an interesting endeavor. We’ll focus on travel tips in case you readers ever find yourself in Central Maine for a few weeks and needing to race somewhere south.
-My first tip is- Don’t go. It’s not worth it. Just alternate between hanging out at Grandma’s reading the newspaper, playing cribbage at Dad’s or using the “internet” at Mom’s. If you get bored of this go night riding with the boys in The Bog or try to get shot at shredding Goat Blower at Mt Waldo. If the rain that made racing on one of the weekends shockingly miserable made it to Maine then go kayaking a whole bunch on your favorite hometown runs. Whatever you do, DO NOT drive south for ten hours.
-Tip #2- Don’t pick your friends up at the airport anywhere near NYC. Their flight will be delayed and you’ll end up riding around a golf course in the dark to blow one of the six hours you have to wait for them to land. The other five will be spent as creepy solo guy working on computer eating a (necessitated by time) five-course meal at a random Café in Newark.
Tip #3 - If you end up at the races, race hard. Even if it totally sucks. Case in point- Mercer Cup #1. I feel bad for race organizer Tom Mains, he was all stoked about finally having good weather for his race and then, at the last moment, Hurricane Ida stalled offshore and drenched the place yet again. 4” deep mud/grass anyone? Ryan Trebron liked it, but those of us who struggle to put out 700 watts for an hour didn’t fare so well. I did my best impression of someone who enjoys riding as hard as they can in a straight line at 6mph and got 12th. Carl the same, noting that he only had to brake once per lap on his way to 17th. Shoot. At least Kelli was 6th and could buy us dinner… Actually, dinner was on Giant. We swung by to meet the crew at the Bicycle Pro shop and after shredding some Method BMX’s on their carpets moseyed out for some delicious home-cooked food at the Under The Moon Café. Really delicious.
Tip #4- Don’t be afraid to be a quitter. I was, and Kelli maybe should’ve been, in Sunday’s re-hash of the racing thing. Two laps in I was in the 30's and just couldn’t stand the thought of riding really hard and really slow while having absolutely zero fun for another 50 minutes. So I pulled the plug and washed my bike before Justin had to. Carl soldiered on for a similar result as Saturday’s event and then we got the hell out of there… Maybe I could make to back to Maine before Monday.
Tip #5 - Know your vehicle. And make sure your driver does while you lounge in the backseat and try to figure out how to work your new Blackberry smartphone thingamy… I mentioned the inaccurateness of the gas gauge to Carl somewhere on the Jersey Turnpike as we headed north toward the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry. We agreed to get gas sometime. That sometime ended up being on the side of the turnpike after we ran out somewhere in the freeway maze that is Newark. Awesome. Fortunately, Carl’s attempt to use the “lifeboat” technique (ride your bike with a gallon jug to the nearest petrol station) was short lived and the Blue Lights that a waiting Kelli and I saw over the first overpass were indeed Carl getting picked up by John Q. Law. He eventually returned our lifeboat captain to the car where we were informed that for $36 the Turnpike Authority would deliver us gas eventually. There was plenty of time for J.Q.L. to check all of our ID’s and then point out that Dad’s Subaru appeared to have plates from a Ford Pickup. Oh well, I suppose we did get gas…
Tip #6- Don’t have a set schedule. Immediately after topping off the tank a few miles up the ‘pike we pulled into a massive traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge. 9pm on a Sunday? Great time for a parking lot. In the two hours from when we first ran out of gas we went precisely 6.6 miles before things opened up on the east side of NYC. Does this mean Carl and Kelli won’t make the last ferry to The Vineyard at 9:45? We eventually got there at 1am and grabbed a room at the Falmouth Square Inn, which evidently had a fire drill planned for 8am. Awesome…
Tip #7- If you’re kind of burnt on riding bikes in crappy areas, go do something else. The lingering Ida dropped between 3” and 6” of rain in Maine while it was mucking up Jersey. This meant that over the course of last week I got to do four of my favorite kayak runs. Kenduskeag Stream on Monday, Marsh with Peter Lataille on Tuesday, and my beloved Gulf Hagas on Wednesday before finishing with the Upper Pemi in New Hampshire on Friday. I figured I should do at least one cursory bike ride. It just so happened that it was at night in The Bog with the local boys, good times.
Tip #8 - When traveling south to another bike race, take the scenic route if possible. Preferably re-enact the “Route 2 Screw”. This is when you wake up to rain in Maine, check the radar and river gauges and then strike it for The White Mountains of New Hampshire in hopes that things come up as you’re driving west. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of phone calls and hope across western Maine. Usually this ends in Franconia Notch at the headwaters of the Pemigewasset River. Classic NH Granite tumbling down to the valley floor always makes for a good pit stop on the way to anywhere. There’s even a sweet bike path for shuttle and a spin to loosen the legs. Mint.
Tip #9 - Know the Ferry Schedule. This will enable you to know whether you’re in a particular rush or not. With this knowledge, maybe you’ll be able to do something other than the usual apologetic stammer when asked by an NH Highway Patrol officer if you are indeed in a hurry. This conversation was obviously initiated after I was pulled over for absentmindedly going 79 down a hill on I-93. Oops. After getting shouted at by a fairly irate, possibly on drugs, officer, I got my $155 fun tax and was on my way. Now wondering if I WAS in a hurry I called the Cross Sound Ferry to see if there was space on the 9 0’clock boat to Long Island. I was informed that there wasn’t a boat at nine but plenty of space remained on the eight. Oops. Time to start actually speeding… I made it to the ferry terminal at 7:54pm. Good thing I didn’t sleep in more that morning…
Tip #10 - When a race looks fun, RACE it. The course in Southampton used a soccer field and real live four-wheeler trails through a sandy pine forest. With actual hills for going up and down. This is what we like. After being shown that Giant TCX’s go good around the track by Emmett, who finished a race-long battle for the win on the wrong side of Amy Dombroski, we figured that the boys should ride fast too. Starting solid, Carl and I settled into the top ten immediately and started to do our super well-organized teamwork. For at least a lap… Then I tried to catch other guys, getting up to fifth for a bit before Chris Jones parried my downhill attack with a more effective uphill version to leave me in sixth. Carl was the 9 to my 6 to scrape up more cash and points. Next day’s events went similarly other than Kelli ending up third and me feeling better and better as the race went on (must have been all that resting I did during the week…) to eventually catch Ryan Trebron (damn) and a swiss guy in the last couple rounds of the track. This put me up in fourth, the first position one can reasonably expect to garner with the Cyclocrossworld.com boys in da house… Good work, Timmy, Pows and Jamie.
Tip #11- Once again after racing south, return north ASAP and get back to riding good trails, paddling and catching up with old friends. And I certainly wouldn’t want to miss an evening at Dave Rudnicki’s place in Bangor, there being a handful of mini-bikes and a lit backyard track… This is a nice time of year…
Thanks for reading and have a good Thanksgiving wherever you may be.
For some, er, insight on the racing of the weekend(s), check out Podium Insight, Lynn has been coving cross proper this fall and does a real nice job…
Oh, and here’s a note from our mate Oli Beckinsale. Check this stuff out if you like unobtainium…
The 3 items are on www.ebay.co.uk and are being sold under olibeckcycling. For same is a pair of SID Beijing forks, a National Jersey and a Giant team skinsuit.
If you could pass this around, or if you are in a postiton to put this information on websites etc or can pass the details to people that are that would be great, as the more its out there the more it should raise.
Any more questions etc please give me a shout.
Hope you are well
The MRP 1.X is in there somewhere. Super sano...
Even the Coke couldn't get me fired up to race...
At least the officer loaned us some flares...
This put me up in fourth, the first position one can reasonably expect to garner with the Cyclocrossworld.com boys in da house…
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