Amidst a busy fall calendar of racing it can be tough to pick our favorite cyclocross races. Certainly Gloucester makes our short list. And Charm City is a new addition after a blast of a race this year. But for many years running Noho CX has also been one of our favorites. While it may not have the dramatic views of Gloucester the course design never disappoints and Northampton is without a doubt one of our favorite bike-related destinations on the East Coast.
So as we mend sore muscles and a few bruises from an at times slippery weekend of racing at Look Memorial Park here is our top ten favorite elements of the weekend at that was at Noho CX:
10. White by a Bike Throw
While Curtis White had an impressive weekend of racing, matching his sister in going two for two, Saturday’s finish was perhaps the most exciting moment of racing for the elites all weekend as it came down to a bike throw between teammates for the win. DirtwireTV has the highlights including one particularly nasty crash on the pro-only line coming down from the wooded section of the course:
9. Everyone's Favorite Race: The Kid’s Race
One of our tried and true favorites of cyclocross season is seeing kids of all ages on all types of bikes from MTB to striders line up to give racing a shot. On this front, Noho definitely delivered with a separate cx course set up for the youngest racers and a large contingent of participants. In addition to the little Belgians, the junior races, despite taking place early in the morning on a weekend filled with frosted grass, saw large turnout across the age categories. We always love seeing such strong support for the up and coming generation of racers - it is so important for the future of our sport.
8. Life at The Farmhouse
Noho has been a team favorite for several years running so we knew we would have a pretty healthy crew joining for the race and a desire to find a house for us all to cram into. By the time we settled on numbers there weren't a ton of options to satisfy our group. But then we stumbled upon an old farmhouse north of Northampton that seemed to fit the bill. With the most extensive list of rules I have yet to see on an Airbnb listing, we decided to take our chances on the Flower Hill Farm. And while we are sure to have accidentally violated one of the house rules - did we remember to put ALL of our food scraps in the freezer? - the house easily exceeded our expectations for quaintness and views. The sunrise over the Pioneer Valley from the edge of the house’s footprint made the early morning wake up something to savor.
7. Winnie the Dinosaur / Dragon / Team Mascot
We've talked about the dogs of cyclocross before, but by far the most popular of them all at Noho was our very own mascot, Winnie, decked out in a pink dinosaur dragon sweatshirt, for the cold of course! Dubbed Winnisaurus, Drago-Dog, and a variety of other nicknames by her fans she was easily the most photographed spectator at Look Park, and for good reason.
6. Some of the Best Course Design & Setup on the East Coast
After several years at Look Memorial Park we have a decent sense for what to expect from Noho CX. There are the usual variety of fast lines through the flat grass sections at the center of the course and some memorable elevation changes used to transition to and from the woods at the north end of the course. But even as we build familiarity with the venue each year we’re struck by just how well this small park is utilized by the Noho CX team. From an immaculate course taping job to excellent course crossings it’s an absolutely top notch race organization. Bonus points for using lower planks this year - the enticing risk-reward made for great viewing at the beer tent.
5. Northampton, Northampton, Northampton
It’s no secret that Northampton has become ground zero for the East Coast cyclocross scene in recent years. With JAM Fund setting up base camp in the Pioneer Valley and the likes of Ellen Noble, Stephen Hyde and Jeremy Powers calling it home, it has certainly become a breeding ground for the heavy hitters. Visiting the valley, it becomes clear why this place has become home to so many in the cross scene with picturesque vistas, quaint towns ripe with good food and coffee shops and of course a plethora of riding options. It’s enough to keep us coming back to Noho CX every single year and we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that it has made us contemplate a move from the concrete jungle we call home.
4. Burati’s Comeback
After a brutal few seasons of back to back full cyclocross and road schedules, Burati officially cracked and needed a hard break from bicycles. But the truth is we missed him on our weekend team getaways. And so in the weeks leading up to Noho we turned up the peer pressure to lure him into spending a weekend at the races, this time purely as a spectator. It took a variety of wisecracks but eventually we dragged him out for a pretty perfect weekend of cheering, eating and excessive amounts of coffee. As fatigue from a cyclocross season of long drives and hard racing starts to set in a bit of Burati was just what the doctor ordered.
3. True Cross Weather (aka brutally, bitterly cold)
Well, after weeks and weeks of endless summer, winter finally arrived in full force. Without much transition through fall weather, we were greeted by a forecast heading into the weekend comprising overnight lows of just 14 degrees. Which meant the lowliest of us category racers would be racing in...wait for it...16 degree temps. The organizers were kind enough to push back the race starts 30 min on day one which gave the sun a chance to warm us up a bit as racers rolled through the course bundled up in puffy jackets and full balaclavas (save for a few brave or maybe just unwise souls with bare legs and arms). The weather made the course conditions interesting as the ground transitioned from frozen solid, to thawing slippery turns, to ruts, and back to frozen over the course of our two days in Northampton. For the true cross enthusiasts this weather was a welcome respite from some unseasonably warm early season races filled with dusty courses and relentless humidity
2. The Torpey vs Joe Dombrowski Grudge Match
After a start to the season that can only be described as kick-ass Torpey now finds himself racing in the elite field. Which for a Noho meant not just lining up against the reigning cyclocross national champion but also against World Tour Pro Joe Dombrowski. Perhaps calling it a grudge match is an exaggeration - Torpey’s true grudge match was trying to keep the two-sizes too big leg warmers he borrowed for the race from falling down - but Torpey came through like a champ either way with a lead lap finish. And best of all, we will always have these pictures of Torpey chasing Joe Dombrowski with one leg warmer down:
PS - bonus points to Colin Reuter for bunny hopping the barriers directly in front of Joe without injuring any World Tour riders in the process:
1. The Race and Everything Else
As racers it can be difficult to avoid boiling a race weekend down to the cold hard truth of results. Especially during cross season when Cross Results Points carry so much weight. But if there is a common theme across the big race weekends we have tallied up in Top Ten List form this season it is this: these weekends are as much about everything that surrounds the race - the cycling community, the beautiful New England towns that play host and of course teammates - as it is about the actual racing. For this reason we walk away from Noho CX focused not on the fact that our best result on the weekend was Steve’s 25th place on Saturday but instead on the plethora of memories from another terrific November weekend in Northampton. Till next year Noho….
Noho CX Photo Gallery
We also have a massive photo drop of 300+ unedited B-roll images over on the team's Facebook page: To Be Determined
Lisa is manager and co-founder of the CityMD Women's Racing Team, a NYC based road and cyclocross racer, former board member of the CRCA and always planning her next travel adventure.