Tom Neumann, Belov, Eric and Mike headed down south of Richmond to Chesterfield Va. for Monster Cross and Mountain Bike Presented by GROUNDFORCE IT. Thom was also planning to race, but unfortunately crashed on an icy C&O canal the day before in our training ride to test out the bikes. With road rash and a stiff neck, he smartly opted to sit this one out.
We were all looking forward to this ride as it gave us one last chance to ride our cross bikes before road season officially gets under way next month, and it turned out to be one heck of a 3+ hour training ride. The course was made up of a mixture of mostly fire roads through the woods, with some single track sprinkled in for good measure. It was also quite hilly with several muddy sections. There was one spot where most riders had to dismount to cross a fallen tree, and 2 or 3 deep streams with large rocks under the water that required some luck and solid bike handling skills when bombing through it at the bottom of a descent.
Our plan had been to stay together and use this as a training ride rather than a “race.” After all, it’s hard to think of it as a race when there are 500 other riders all starting from a mass start. This pleased Belov since he has never raced his cross bike before and he was still getting acclimated to the bike and the terrain and could have used some guidance from those that raced cross this year. But it soon became obvious that staying together was going to be next to impossible.
Right from the whistle, it was every man for himself for the next 3 hours. And what a grueling 3 hours it was. The pace started fast and stayed that way. Eric started near the front row and was latched onto through the first loop. Mike got swarmed a bit at the start, but managed to slowly work his way up to Eric‘s group by about the first hour marker. As we neared end of the first lap, the main group had swelled to 25+ riders, but things quickly cam unglued after the torrid early pace. We were then left groups of 1’s and 2’s for the last hour+. Not to mention the fact we were all low on fluids – for a 3+ hour ride, in temperatures touching 70 degrees in February, two bottles was not nearly enough. Not good planning on our part, but lesson learned for next year. We all pushed ourselves to our limits to finish strong … and very dehydrated.
When it was all said and done, Mike finished 4th in the open CX category, Eric finished 6th in the 40+ CX category and Belov finished 6th in the 50+ CX category. We were especially surprised and pleased to see Belov finish where he did, considering he had never done any off-road race before. Tom ended up losing one of his bottles along the way and unfortunately had to stop after about 35 miles.
Everyone agreed afterwards that this was one of the hardest rides we had all done in quite a long time, and should hopefully benefit us going into road season. A very solid showing by Veloworks Spokes Etc! Now back to the roads.