Weekend Forecast & Course Preview: NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross
Well friends, the 2018 cyclocross season is reaching its conclusion. As we wrote about last week in our Supercross Cup recap, this year has been the wettest and muddiest any of us can remember. Our gear is beat up and our bodies are tired. But for those of us persevering into December cyclocross there is one last big out of town race weekend on the calendar: the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Warwick, RI. Our TBD crew will be on the small side but as the final stop in the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series the big name pros will be in attendance for one last go and we’re excited as heck for it all.
NBX Gran Prix of Cross: The Details
Location: Goddard Memorial State Park, Warrick, RI
Registration Deadline: Thursday at 5PM
NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross Pre-Race Thoughts and Course Preview
Outside of the Race
Warwick is 175 miles from Brooklyn. Should be a 3-ish hour drive, right? There's almost no chance of this happening – for most Friday departure times, Google forecasts between 4 and 6 hours for the trip, with most of the traffic happening between NYC and New Haven. So bring a friend, bring a (few) podcast(s), and get comfortable. Because it's worth it!
Lodging-wise, you're picking between AirBnBs and big-brand, boring corporate hotels. Both work fine and the hotels have been accommodating of cyclocrossers and their bikes in years prior.
My favorite pick for post-race food is The Shanty at 3854 Post Road. The food is good, they've got a great beer selection, and they make a fine martini. It's cozy as hell, and the full-wraparound bar is likely to feature more than a few of the folks that you just got done racing against.
I'm also a huge fan of Jigger's Diner at 145 Main Street in East Greenwich. There's not a lot to say about it other than it is Definitely A Diner: it is cute, because it's in an old train car; the coffee is fine; the food is what you would expect. Also on Main Street is Besos. It's pretty good, and seems to serve an older, not-quite-as-Brooklyn crowd than The Shanty.
A couple years back they did a "light the Christmas tree" thing at the Courthouse on Main. Not exactly my bag, but it was definitely a Cute Thing that some people seemed to enjoy. Main Street seems to have a lot of this kind of thing – cute stuff, worth a walk.
Much further up Post Road (which turns into Main Street as you go south) is the sponsor of the event, NBX Bikes of Warwick. You can pick up your number there the night before, which you should definitely do if you're in the first couple races. If the weather is anything like it has been, you're not going to want to be outside much.
Anyway, at least 50% of my affection for NBX is the town and the hangs with friends post-race. Which brings me to...
Goddard Memorial State Park plays host to NBX, and it is an excellent place to play bikes for the weekend. It's situated on the shores of Greenwich Bay, itself part of Narragansett Bay. It's named for politician and Civil War hero Robert Goddard, who shit-you-not came up the word "Sideburns" after serving as aide-de-camp to General Ambrose Burnside.
A few parts of the park and course are exposed to the water, which means that the views can be pretty excellent, and the temperatures a bit on the crisp side for some. Fear not: there is a well-heated pavilion at the center of the course, and (usually) an NBX Bikes-branded oil drum/trashcan fire to keep warm when you're outside. There's also an elevated pedestrian bridge over the finish line area that gives great views of a majority of the racing action.
In years past, there have been two food trucks and a donation-driven beer option for spectators.
NBX is notable for its long beach run, but the whole course is pretty darn sandy – not like Koksjide, but rather alternating between peaty sand and sandy peat. (I looked up soil grading for this post, thankyouverymuch.). There is very little grass aside from the start and prologue.
There are also an enormous number of roots on the northwest corner of the course. These gave me big problems my first year of 'cross until someone told me I should just pedal through them. NBX is very flat, which I like, and not very technical when I was going slower, but seems to be getting more tricky with each coming year. Cue my favorite Keith Garrison saying, "Everything is technical if you're going fast enough."
In the past, most of the pros have been on some form of file tread. I don't know this for a fact, but I think Goddard Park drains really well, and there are a lot of fast flat pedaling sections and sandy bits where chunky top knobs of any kind don't help much. I'm personally going for a bit of an unconventional choice – 37c Riddlers from WTB. They're a gravel tire, but I think the volume, low top knobs, and chunky side knobs are going to work a treat.