This past weekend was #3 of the (my anyway) 2022 cross season, and what a perfect day for cyclocross, sunny and cool but not cold. This was the first time I’ve done the Hyattsville CX, held in Driskell Park in Hyattsville MD. It was nice to have a race that was not an hour plus drive away! Hearing the horror stories of how narrow and tight this course was in the past, I signed up for the 60+ rather than the 40+ 3/4/5 because of the smaller field, 23 instead of 60. Of course it would be a tradeoff because the top guys in 60+ are *very* fast, but that was the idea, it would string out fairly quickly and not have too much traffic. Not sure that really worked out because the 50+ and U-19s started 1 and 2 minutes before us, and the back ends of those fields can be pretty slow, so while there was less of a mess at the start, there was still some traffic on the course.
This race was also a first for me as I had a front row call up, right next to Rick Paukstitus. I managed to come around the first turn in 4th place and mostly hung onto the top 6 or so riders for much of the first lap, eventually losing about 15 seconds after the first lap.
While flat, the course had a few obstacles: a humpy mulch pile, a short rooty single track section with a hump at the end and a stairs section in addition to the usual barriers (these were 12″ not the typical 18″). The stairs had 5 (I think or maybe 4?) treads that were far enough apart that you could ride them, but after sessioning it several times in warmup, I found it much faster to run which I did during the race. The other really challenging section was about 1/3 of the way into the lap which featured a boggy surface (similar to Bikeneticx last year) that was a leg zapper. By the time the 1pm 60+ race came around it had dried up to a peanut butter consistency so it didn’t stick to the bike but was really hard.
I settled in and was back and forth with a few riders, as usual losing some ground on the power sections, but making some back on the technical sections and tight turns. I’m pretty good on the tight turns, but I did find myself overcooking them too often early and finally backed off a little and was able to keep smoother power by pedaling through them. Towards the end of lap 4, I stopped hearing the bell indicating I’d be a lap down (only 3 others in front of me were also a lap down so it was close). Leo Handerhan (a common nemesis) and I were neck and neck in the last lap and since he is a smaller, thinner guy, I decided to overtake him in the final dirt corner thinking I could outsprint him from the front. Well, I almost made it, but he got me by maybe a foot for 12th. Not sure whether I could have beat him if he lead it out… Oh well, have to try it the other way around next time. It was fun to try a different field (again!), but overall, I think I really prefer the 40+ (or 45+) 3/4/5 field because the racing is tighter and just more interesting even though I’ll probably end up worse points wise.
It was a really nice afternoon to hang out and drink a beer. In other races, Mickey was 7th and Antonio 25th in the 40+ 3/4/5 and Mike 16th in the 50+. Antonio also raced the 50+ but his back was bothering him, so he just phoned it in. I knew something had to be up because I made up 2 minutes on him. Afterwards, I got to hang out with two former NASA colleagues, Brad and Steve whom I’ve known for 25+ years, over at Franklins.
Ed Sander Memorial CX is up next week.