Hippo Cross: A day of mud and running
When we think of hippopotamuses most think of the adorable African river horses known for their love of good mud or possibly something that we all want for Christmas. Hippo Cross, the fourth stop in the NJCX series, lived up to the expectations of its name sake.
Leading up to the race one thing was certain. There would be mud. With almost a full week of rain prior there was no doubt that it would be at least one mud feature in the course. Traditionally, Hippo is known for being a fast, grassy course with substantial power sections where racers carrying hefty road fitness can pour out some heavy wattage.
As we pulled up to the course it was clear that there would be more than one section of mud on the course. The parking area was littered with bikes suffocating under the mud and slop of earlier races. There wasn’t simple going to be mud, it was all mud. As we rode over to the course laden with our gear (crème vests stowed safely in the car) the crunching of mud riddled drivetrains and creaking of sand filled bearing became ever more prominent. This would not be a grass crit to favor the roadies savoring their last bits of fitness before settling in for a hygge filled off season, this would be a race for survival where we would spend more time running alongside our bikes then actually riding them.
The course started with a long slick straight that led into the snaking upper section filled with tight 180 degree turns, barriers, and a small hump. Crashes, mishaps and mechanicals caused brakes in the field allowing some to break away and leaving others with a choice, play it conservative or race like hell. Some packed it in early saving their gear and sanity for another day, but two racers come to mind that truly embraced the day. Mark Steffen from King Kog and our very own Daghan Perker. They both found themselves in trouble early on with collisions that put them at the back of the race. They showed true cross grit and fought back into contention finishing 3rd and 4th respectively.
When the mud finally dried, it was a respectable day for the TBD crew. I had a fortunate day and was able to stay clean and out of trouble to take the win. Daghan overcame the odds to finish just off the podium and Ted finished with the field after a crash led to a day riddled with mechanicals.
Overall, Hippo truly provided. A nice venue with lots of food and beverage, ample mud and our holiday wish-lists now filled with much needed replacement parts (Babe, if you’re reading this, I could really use a new bottom bracket).