Nittany Lion Cross: the 2019 CX Season Begins
Nittany Lion Cross is a popular buzz word on the Journal for many reasons. For many in the New York and Mid Atlantic region, it is the first double header weekend of CX season. And with that double header weekend comes premium hangs as several NYC teams - TBD, King Kog, and KruisCX among them - establish a Big Apple outpost (also called a shantytown at various points during the weekend) on the hill overlooking the finish line. We know we don’t need to travel 100 miles to hang out together but our shantytown also acts as a (mostly) supportive environment filled with inter-team cheering and pre-race advice and mechanical assistance, so the distance traveled to all spend time together feels welcomed to help kick off the upcoming fall adventures.
The Faces of Nittany Lion Cross
Cross portraits may be my favorite type of photograph to shoot. I could spend all fall at races, shooting zero actual racing, just portraits, and be very content. A few favorites from this past weekend:
To Be Determined f/b Metropolitan Dental Care Race Report by Lisa Vandivort
Things that went well leading up to the race:
I was not burnt out after road season (a mediocre season without too much racing will do that)
Race hype was high - Nittany is always a favorite for hangs (see: NYC shantytown by the big rock)
The weather forecast was pretty decent
I had new TBD f/b MDC kit to sport that made me feel fast
The not so great prep:
During the week I rode a solid 30 minutes of bicycles + a few Citibike commutes, went for a 10 min jog and had 3 nights of minimal to interrupted sleep (Dog decided to eat a cigar one night that had to come back up) so my body was feeling real sharp
Didn’t mark any sort of bike fit on the shared race bike with Matt and we decided to change the saddle to a backup option right before leaving town, so all systems were a go
Didn’t quite pack enough food to get past day 1 breakfast but we did remember the important things like a cooler stuffed with Athletic Brewing Co beer and White Claws
Weekend of Racing
Got to the venue early, was prepped and ready to go as soon as the bike exchange could take place
Gave myself 3 opportunities to warm up on course, plus time on the trainer (I normally find other ways to kill time)
Had some fresh new teammies stoked on cx willing to pre-ride with me - the one who we lovingly refer to as ‘Father’ (for reasons that I probably shouldn’t get into here) was gracious enough to take me out on a few laps to go over line choice and how to go fast
The course was dry with ample opportunity to be aggressive and make up places in turns
It started raining in the start grid. Wish I had gloves. No longer had any idea how to ride the lines well
Had a pretty decent start moving up to 3rd place after the first few turns but once we hit the stairs and I had to get off my bicycle, the places started falling...fast
Made up some ground taking efficient turns and powering out of them but lost many seconds every time I went off and back on the bike (note to self)
Lost all ability to transfer power after about 30 min of racing and had a mediocre finish result compared to expectations
Day 2 was hot, for which I came very well equipped with a long sleeve skinsuit that I refused to change out of (it makes me feel fast!)
My legs were ill prepared for a second day of racing and I had a very sluggish start that never recouped
I crashed hard on my shoulder going into the final lap taking me out of contention on day 2 (luckily nothing serious though!)
I broke more bike things (my specialty) - this time the shifter on the one cx bike we own at the moment
On paper this reads like a recipe for a terrible weekend but in fact it was quite the opposite. I actually took away a lot of good lessons (the most important of which was to practice the cx skills more, go figure) and got better at turning, had a great battle with my road-friend-turned-cx-enemy Lucia all weekend, watched pals have really great races and most importantly had fun hangs with the NYC crew causing a ruckus crashing hammocks, poorly attempting to give out sock handups and generally enjoying each others (and the doggos of course) company. Pretty stoked on going up from here (while praying for not too much mud this fall).
To Be Determined Race Report by Scott Rettino
Well damn that sure snuck up on me, #crossishere. The month leading up to Nittany was very busy for me but not a heap of riding. I wasn’t super sure on where my form was at but planned to pedal hard and work on my turns.
Of course, there was a part of me that wanted to justify the transfer fee that the “Yankees of Cyclocross” did splash out late last year with some nice early season results.
Lucia, Evan and I arrived at the TBD headquarters late Friday night. A cheeky beer was had, some banter exchanged and then it was off to bed as we all wanted to catch Matt and Ryan in the early 4 / 5 race.
When we arrived (thanks to our pals at KruisCX), the New York cyclocross contingent had once again secured the top of the hill for prime spectating and heckling. Prior to my race I ran around and took some photos of the earlier races whilst consuming my customary coconut water. Emily’s parents came in clutch with some delish pasta salads and then it was time to hit the trainer for my warmup. I’ve had the same warm up for the last few years and consists of a steady diet of Disturbed’s ‘Down with the Sickness’, 10 minutes of ramping up and a few 6 second sprints for good measure.
I had a 2nd row call up thanks to an early registration and no thanks to my prior Australian Cross Results points which had now all expired. I had a good start, wanting to settle in around 5-8 and up ahead Clark took a nice holeshot. Clark and Clay would swap off for the early part of the race and set a nice tempo that stretched the field. Early on the 2nd (I think) lap Clark had a little mishap and slipped a chain so Clay took over the pace making duties.
On lap 3 a couple of young whipper snappers took off and would not be seen again. Ah the fountain of youth. Meanwhile I was sitting in maintaining a very healthy heart rate of 192bpm (a 20 minute all time). Despite the high heart rate I was feeling relatively comfortable until my old nemesis leg cramps hit me running up the stairs. It took all I had to stick on John’s wheel for the remainder of the race, stoked to come in for 5th.
After the wide-angled podium presentations it was back to the air bnb and straight into the photo editing whilst others prepared the evening’s feast, what gems. Oh, I also had my first White Claw, #hotgirlsummer lives on.
Walking down the stairs for breakfast on day 2 was quite the struggle with the crazy knots left in my legs from the cramps from the day before. The hill again secured I settled in for another day photographing, heckling and (eventually) racing. 3:45pm start for Cat 3? I thought the days of late starts were well and truly behind me. Oh well.
The weather was definitely a lot hotter on Day 2 and despite a few token stretches my legs just wouldn’t loosen up. Before long I was back on the trainer with Down with the Sickness for comfort ready to go through another 45 minutes of my heart trying to pop out of my chest.
Thanks to Clay’s quick thinking each of the TBD boys had a nice ice sock to put down our skinsuit, can you say ‘pro’?
One of the young bucks from the day before had decided to spare us this time and raced with the elites, one less thing to worry about! The race started similar to the day before but this time Clay got the holeshot and set the pace for the first 3 or so laps. John and Dan took over pacemaking and we were joined by the other young buck. Dan and I swapped spots a few times with some nice aggressive but clean overtakes. We had a substantial enough gap and I knew the winner was going to come out of our group of 4.
I was definitely feeling very one-paced so my best bet was to hang on and try the unlikely last lap sneak attack and sprint for line honours. It didn't quite work out as I planned but was very happy to take 3rd and finish my first 2019 cross weekend with a 5th and 3rd.
Nittany Lion Cross Galleries by Matthew Vandivort
The Best Race of the Weekend
If you’re curious what was the most exciting and best race of the weekend, look no further than the hotly contested Little Belgians field:
The Best of the Rest
If anything we walked away with from Nittany Lion Cross with too many photos and not enough time for photo processing. On an exceptionally quick run through the several hundred photos from the weekend, here are our favorites:
Everything else that makes the cut for the Journal follows below - if we didn’t capture your particular field, our apologies - we were busy hanging, racing, and recovering and had to fit any shooting in between those various activities:
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Nittany weekend forecast: hot, with a chance of racing.
One of our favorite cyclocross races is coming up in just a few weeks and yet registration numbers appear to be trending down significantly. To help change that: our Top 10 reasons for registering for Nittany Lion Cross.
A look back at an at times foggy and muddy weekend at Nittany Lion Cross and the contradictions of amateur bicycle racing
A look back a weekend of grass crit CX at Nittany Lion Cyclocross in Trexlertown, PA. Featuring race reports from TBD's Steve Rousseau, Patrick Torpey and Clay Jones with images from Daghan Perker.
The first double header weekend of cyclocross is in the books at Nittany Cyclocross. Part I of the TBD recap covers images from two fast and hot days of racing.
Life in the Dustbowl