Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fall Masterpiece – Granogue CX 2011

Another year of Steve not being able to race Granogue, boo! But always a worthwhile race to journey north for, in terms of the racers there, the quality of the course, and the sheer scope.

We got there right after the Women’s 3/4 race kicked off and I got to cheer for my favorite ladies, Rachel and Christine. Unfortunately Rachel had a mechanical early in the race and had to drop out, but Christine raced a smart and strong race and finished in the top ten. I only get to see Christine race once or twice a year since she lives in New England, but the girl always brings it.

After catching up with some friends Steve and I wandered back towards registration and the area further back near the cornfield to watch the Elite Masters Men’s race. After we watched them come by, we walked over to the run-up in the woods to watch them there. After waiting for far longer than it should have taken them to come around, we wandered back up to the main area and learned that there had been a serious crash on the starting line. When I saw the police helicopter land, my heart just sank. I was at Schooley Mill last year when a racer had a heart attack, but I have never seen a cross race completely stopped and someone medevac-ed out before. It really cast a pall over the race, but later in the day we heard that the two fellows involved in the crash should be okay.

The next race was the UCI Elite 17-18 Juniors, and I went back to the run-up in the woods for the duration of the race. I read somewhere last week that this is one of only five UCI 17-18 races in the US, so it’s pretty special to get to see these kids race. Apparently local favorite Sam O’Keefe of C3 has been having a great start to his season, but unfortunately on Saturday he was bested by the young men from the Clif and Bob’s Red Mill developmental squads.

The UCI Elite Women’s race was dominated by Laura Van Gilder, who I’m pretty sure has won this race every year I’ve been there. And Allyson from our team posted a solid mid-pack result. The UCI Elite Men’s race was a display of masterful technical ability and speed, as always. A lot of the elite New England racers made the trek down and they have a slick and speedy racing style that is fun to watch. I observed primarily from the two run-ups, the one in the woods and the main one below the iconic water tower. Many of the men in this race were able to ride one or both of them, some more easily than others. As in the women’s race, the eventual winner Justin Lindine ran away with the lead for most of the race.

And finally after the sun was starting to sink in the western sky, off went the Men’s 2/3/4 race. The whole JBV crew (Eric, Brett, Chris) raced well and posted good results, but the real star was Matt Bartlett. Starting in the 13th row, he methodically worked his way back up to the front, and even the lead. An unfortunately timed crash at the top of the hill near the end of the final lap ensured a third place finish, but it was a remarkable come from behind.

As our reward for a hard day of (watching) racing, we stopped for delicious homemade ice cream with Rachel and Eric at the Woodside Creamery on our way home. Although we weren’t able to make it up for Day 2 this year, it was still another fabulous fall day spent at Granogue.

I’ll be posting the 500+ pictures I took on SmugMug over the next few days, for now, you can check out my pictures from Saturday’s UCI Elite Men’s race. Thanks!

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