2022 CX #1 – Sharpsburg CX – The Season Opener

With a little more available time, I think I will do something different (but kinda the same as Seth Alvo would say) and post race reports for the 2022 Cyclocross season. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for those who don’t give two shits about cyclocross, the MABRA schedule is a bit light and so there will only be one report every week or two. Here’s the first race report from last Saturday’s CX race in Sharpsburg.

It was a cold morning in the 40s and it was a bit of a hike at 95 miles, but the venue was really nice. It was a new course in Sharpsburg just across the river from Harpers Ferry at a property called called Kennedy Farm, evidently where John Brown staged his famous raid on Harpers Ferry. It was a well laid out course that suited me pretty well with more technical than power sections. It is essentially the private training course of Eric Sloman (I heard it’s owned by his wife’s family and he lives on the property) a top MABRA Masters CX racer. No doubt nice that it is on private property (and we all know you don’t tell private land owners in these parts what to do with their land!) so they don’t have to deal with all the permitting bullshit you have to deal with on public land. I just wish I read the prerace notice closer that while they did not have a beer vendor you could BYO beer, doh!

I left Annapolis early and got there by 7:30am so had about 45 minutes of preride (2+ laps and an additional lap between races) just to get a good sense of the course. My only other ABRT teammate Antonio Abadia arrived a bit later and did not get much preride. Our 45+ 3/4/5 race was at 11am and it had warmed up nicely to the low 60s, perfect summer kit weather but not so hot your were parched without anything to drink during the race. Cyclocross racers do not carry any water bottles as you need the area in your frame to shoulder your bike in places and there is just no opportunity in these fast paced races to take your hands off the handlebars to drink. I registered fairly early and had a 3rd row call up (of 6) but unfortunately Antonio registered late (unsure of progress with a sore back) and was in the last row. The start was an uphill slog and into a few corners that were bottlenecks so it (as usual) really helps to be in the front. I still struggle in the beginning of these races in the “hole shot” – they blow the whistle, you clip in and pedal as hard as you can for about a minute to get down the course – and lost maybe 10 places in the first 30-60 seconds, but gained a bunch of them back once we got to the two woods technical sections.

Grunting it up one of the power sections. Note I am wearing the 2022 ABRT kit; early on it was drummed into my head that we MUST race in the current year’s kit.

There was not a lot of vertical gain (thankfully!) and the technical sections were smooth and dry. If you kept it smooth and came out of the corners with some power, you could really make some ground. The barriers were set right before a hairpin turn and I found it best to carry full run speed over the barriers and through the turn before remounting. I passed several people doing this.

Eventually things stratified and I personally was trying to get the guy in front of me for the last two laps (of 5). On the technical sections I’d get up to his wheel, but just as soon as I did that, a power section came and he’d open it up to 10 seconds and that’s the way it ended at 20th of 38 for me. A slightly faster start might have yielded a place or two, but based on lap times, other than just faster overall, I finished in my rightful spot (ie no big mistakes, other than not training harder). Antonio made up a lot of ground coming up to 24th and had lap times just slightly more than me (except for the first lap from traffic). As usual, I was the oldest guy in the 45+ race at 62 (CX racing age) but it’s worth it not having to race with any cat 1/2 riders who picked their parents better than I.

I hung out a bit in the sun and had some food while watching the women’s races before heading home as it was a beautiful fall day. All in all, it was a great course and lots of fun and a really good season opener. I contemplated doing the 55+ at 3pm but just didn’t have the juice (I had to stop at a truck rest area for a 15 minute nap on the drive home as I was dog-ass tired and starting to fall asleep), but instead next year I will bring my gravel wheels/tires and do some extra miles on the C&O as were were just a couple miles from the towpath. Maybe we could get a larger group to do this afterwards.

Loaded Nachos, just missing the IPA!

Full results with lap times: https://results.raceroster.com/…/jt2dapce56g…/results…

Next up on the calendar is Charm City CX (an epic course in Druid Hill Park with UCI pro fields) this weekend and good luck to the rest of the ABRT Cross Crew as it is going to be WET from the remnants of Ian! Since I have a prior commitment this weekend, my next race Hyattsville CX. I have never done that course and everyone says there are limited passing lanes on the tight course, so I chose to register for 60+ which will be a smaller field with less traffic.

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