As some prepare for another big cyclocross weekend in Massachusetts for NBX, we cannot get NJ's recent HPCX off our brains.
While the name "HPCX" has lost any meaning it once had since the race was relocated to the Thompson Park Zoo venue several years ago, do not take this as a sign that the race has lost any heart. Tom Mains owns this race, in addition to working results services as he does for most east coast races, and year-in and year-out Tom puts on a great event: the course is always top notch, as we have come to expect for east coast UCI races, but the venue and amenities are also great; notably improved this year with a well equipped bike wash station.
This year the race gods offered one day of dust and one of mud; what else could any racer ask for?
HPCX Day 1 - Dust
Minor changes from Day 1 of 2016's course were namely relocation of the stairs. This impacted the race where before the stairs were ride-able except in the heaviest of traffic, this year the stairs were clearly faster to ride. Otherwise, this was the HPCX course that the East Coast knows and loves. Big fast downhill sweeping turns out of the hole shot, a lot of climbing, and tight turns makes this a cyclocross racer's course (in contrast to NJ's triathlete friendly MartyCross the weekend before).
While the acorn (read ball-bearings) were absent from the chicane at the bottom of the course this year thanks to global warming, there were still plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. For me I took the opportunity to drop my chain remounting after the stair run-up, ending any chance I had at bridging up to the lead group. Men's 3/4 winner Brendan Offer managed to win after dropping his chain not once, but twice, in addition to taking home some course tape as a souvenir. Steve Rousseau had a really strong race sticking it with the front group, and just miss-timed his sprint to take a step on the podium. Clark Fredrickeon raced his last weekend as a Category 4, and went out with a bang, grabbing a podium saturday as well as sunday. In the men's UCI race, Massachusetts' JamFund team was off the front from lap 1 with Squid's Anthony Clark, who popped with just over a lap to go and finished a minute or so back from the winner. In the women's UCI race, Squid's Sammy took the win, as she would repeat again on Sunday.
HPCX Day 2 - Mud
Sunday was altogether different. What was burned in grass lines the day before was now 4 inches of peanut butter. For some, like GF Capital's Chris Ballard, the sloppy conditions were an opportunity to display their skills, who rode to a strong 4th place on an otherwise Junior dominated podium.
TBD did not have as much luck as Saturday (three top 10s) but we certainly enjoyed playing in the mud with our friends and dogs.
Its hard to believe that some of our favorite races are already behind us in the 2017 cyclocross season. While maintaining excitement for the end of the season, as mental and physical fatigue rears its head as a reality that comes with racing bikes for 10-months straight, its important to reflect upon your successes, or near-successes, and the good times that came with them. Because winter is coming, road season is long, and cyclocross season is way too short to only live in the moment.