Yesterday was the inaugural edition of MaxPower's Power Cross. All in all they put on a great race with a tough course, good atmosphere, quick results, etc. As a late season race it essentially extended the CNY CX season by an extra week which was pretty sweet.
Rolling into the venue, it didn't take long to realize that the big hill was going to be a big deal. I got to the race well before the Masters race, so I could check out the course well in advance of my Open race. Tim O. and I hopped on the course and hit the hill section first. We slowly walked up the hill deciding that there was no benefit to running it an hour and a half before our race. After two recon laps we decided that there wasn't much left to see. There weren't any major technical sections and it was essentially going to be a big hill run up married to a tractor pull on the lower section. Actually, I was pretty pumped. When I have decent form, that kind of slog suits me. Mmmm tractor pull.
We watched the Masters race and it was amazing how slowly some people were going up the hill. Actually it was amazing how slowly everyone was going up the hill. Faso was moving pretty good but the hill was named after him for a reason.
The Open race started off fast on pavement and then we hit the mud. It was rough going. The mud was drive drain eating muck. Mud tires weren't much help since the mud was thick and caked right into them. Then we hit the hill. Now I knew why everyone was going so slowly in the Masters race. I'm a recovering runner, so I actually loved the hill and used it to do a lot of passing. That said, it was insane and a couple of times I found myself light headed and weaving off course. On the 5th or 6th lap up the hill I collected what little spit I could pull together and let it fly at the Faso Hill sign. I shot high by about 3 inches, but the crowd on the hill went nuts and it was probably my fastest run up.
I've been waiting for a REALLY muddy race all season. I sold my motorcycle for two identical bikes and I hadn't gotten to use both of them in one race yet. Well I got my monies worth yesterday. At the end of my first lap, Jeremy Clay from Bike Loft East asked if I wanted a bike change. I was too late that lap, but told him I'd catch him on the next lap. Changing bikes was life altering and my bike felt 5 pounds lighter which was a huge physical and mental boost. Two laps later another change, two laps later another change, two laps later another change. Jeremy and local good guy Fizz were awesome. They didn't have a hose, so Fizz was dipping bikes in a pond, Jeremy was cleaning the tires off with a Dura-Ace BB tool and I have no idea how they kept up with it all. They were moving fast and were coordinating the bike changes flawlessly. Fizz would grab the incoming bike and Jeremy had the clean bike ready to grab at full gas. It was a tremendous advantage over those that didn't have spare bikes and I almost felt like I was cheating. The good news for me was that I wasn't cheating and I don't feel that bad! 5th place in the open in a strong field.
I beat some solid guys and they clearly had a tough time with their bikes in the mud, but that's 'cross. Like I said last week, the course is neutral. The Power Cross course brought some challenges, and it was great to see some people rise to the occasion and have their best performances of the season. Jason D, Neil H and my teammate Adam all put the power to the mud and killed it. Course variety is good and hopefully the MaxPower team will make the race part of the annual schedule. The King has spirals in Greene, Kirkland had the sand pit, and Max Power has their signature hill. Oh yeah, Ommegang has beer. If the course was dry, Max Power might need to tighten up some of the turns, but in late November we're almost guaranteed the mud. I'm already looking forward to next year.