Where: Sykesville, Maryland
Conditions: Dry and dusty, 70s
The VWS team travelled to Sykesville, Maryland for SykeloCross, the second race in the Sportif Cross Cup series. The unique course traverses the grounds of an old mental health treatment facility. While some of the facility is still used for commercial purposes, many of the old building are abandoned with gray or broken windows and deteriorating ceilings. Even by day, it’s a little spooky and many of the riders were spooked by the technical challenges of the course — two ride/run-up sections, plenty of off-camber challenges and a log hop, in addition to the usual double barriers. Plenty of chances for fun, catastrophy and shenanigans.
In the morning races, new team member Pat Maloney finished a solid mid-pack of the Cat 5 field in his first cyclocross race. Congratulations, Pat!
Beth Dunham finished 9th in the 1/2/3 field. With only two other Cat 3’s in the field, the fast 1’s and 2’s separated quickly from the rest. Beth battled and traded places several times as everyone had aspects where they were smoother or stronger than the other women. In the end, she won her last battle of the day when the other rider washed out on an off-camber section. That’s ‘cross! Sometimes — many times — the person with the most power doesn’t get to the line first.
Sean Chisham was up next in the Masters 45+ B race. He was hoping for a more moderate field compared with the open 3/4 race, but as he said afterward, “I was wrong.” He got his usual fast start, but then lost momentum passing riders at the back of the earlier 35+ heat and his competitors started turning up the heat. When the dust settled he was sitting just off the podium in about 6th place. He clawed his way back to 5th place, but then struck a pedal in a turn, washed up and slipped back to 6th. He battled to catch back on, but just couldn’t get back to the 5th place wheel. “He got through the final corner first and that is what wins CX races,” Sean lamented after the race. Still a strong day on a tough course.
Dan Ord, Clay Moulton and Chris Brennan took to the start of the Cat 4/5 race. As usual, this was the largest field of the day and with the technical course, position would be key. Dan got out to strong start in the top 10, but Chris and Clay got tangled up with the masses in the first run-up. Immediately after the run-up, Dan went down hard in an off-camber section. After taking a short moment to take inventory and decide if he could continue, he had dropped back outside the top 15. Once going, however, Dan continued to work his way through the field and would get all the way back up to 7th place, just 17 seconds off the top-5 podium. Chris road strong to come up 17th and Clay was 34th in a 62 rider field.
Eric closed out the day for the team in the Open 45+. At the start, he missed a pedal and fell back early. Once going, however, he worked through the field and by the end of the second lap he had chased down the solo leader in the race. Together, these two would battle for the remainder of the race and put almost a minute on the rest of the field. Ultimately, Eric would fall back on the last lap after getting shuffled behind some lapped traffic. “I rode hard, but he was just too strong today. I was happy with the effort,” he’d relate afterward.
Look for the VWS team in the coming week at Hyattsville CX, the Super-8 Series opener, and then at the Charm City Cyclocross weekend in Baltimore.