More often than not, defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory in the closing minutes of a cyclocross race. A bobbled line, a failed remount, or a spectacular crash can ruin a perfectly executed race that had all the elements of a win or personal best. At no point in time did this seem to occur with the majority of the fields or the event itself.
Team Squadra Coppi changed venues this year and was rewarded with the most successful event to date complete with a beautiful day, awesome food, beer, music, spectator turnout and super deep racing fields. The result of some gargantuan efforts of race planning and execution the event was rewarded with incredible turn out of both racers and spectators enjoying the scenery and the scene. But then again, with excellent food from Pineapple Valley catering, delicious beer from Ommegang and some serious funk from the power trio “Gallons to Ounces” how could people not have a good time? Rosaryville is a state day-use park that sits on 892 acres in Upper Marlboro, MD where both the mountain bikers of MORE (Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts) and Equestrian groups get along in a joint venture of trail maintenance and turf repair that yields good riding no mater your choice of conveyance be it two wheeled or equine. The result is a perfect stage with which to set a cross race. As the sun rose and warmed the dewey fields of Rosaryville Park, strains of Strauss melted over the grass with riders criss crossing the freshly taped course in an operatic display of movement and spectacle that can only be defined as early morning at a ‘Cross race.
And then, just like that, it was on. An enormous field of cat. 4 riders swarmed the course in what became a million man slide as nearly every racer struggled to keep the knobby side down in the wet grassy corners that made up the nested corners around the grand pavilion. The first Sausage Prime from the Suitcase of Sausage was awarded later in the race when a rider crashed into the barriers and from then on the sausage flowed from the case into the waiting hands of racers all day long. The racing, the beer and the sausage flowed like this for the rest of the day with tents lining the course protecting trainers, racers and race supporters from bright November sunshine. Sausage was won for various reasons: anything from best flair to “slapping the turkey” or “slapping the sausage”. With each sausage prime each field got faster as the sun tracked across the sky until it was time for the women’s elite field to take the stage.
The Women’s 1-2-3 of 17 riders took the start in the typical fashion that had occurred all day, fast road start with a tight group staying together in gruppo compacto until the second lap where things started to pull apart with some fast racers taking off with Dee Dee Winfield (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) at the head of the parade – gaining ground all the time using the last fumes of baby boost #2 like nitrous oxide in her down tube. Arley Kemmerer (Hub Racing) had made the initial break with Dee Dee when she went down and was unable to finish which left Dee Dee all alone out in front. Jen Maxwell (ATAC Sportwear), Katrina Dowdichuk (Deep Blue), Julie Kuliecza (Alan North America), Lenore Pipes (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes), Laura Hanlon and Elizabeth Harlow (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) kept things a little closer and fought together in smaller pockets of racers that was all business for the duration of the race, having no interest in sausage hand ups. Dee Dee being out in front had some time to win not one, but two different sausage primes with the “slap the Sausage” technique all the while riding off to the win in commanding style.
By now the warm Sun had passed its zenith and was on the way toward the western horizon when the Elite Men’s 1-2-3 lined up with a field of 27 that got up and got down with easily some of the fastest opening laps. The crowd was still full and the spectators pretty rowdy for the late day grand event race which bode well for the venue and the racers. The top 10 stayed in contact for many of the opening laps allowing for some riders to trade places at the front as they took turns on the faster road sections and every time the group came though there was a new dude at the front trying to get away. It wasn’t until later in the race with just 3 or so laps to go when Joe Dombrowksi (Haymarket Bicycles/ Home Visit) fired off the front leaving the rest to sort themselves out with Steveo Cummings (Indiana Regional Medical Center) and Jared Nieters (Haymarket Bicycles/Home Visit) sprinting to the line to sort out second and third. The Suitcase of Sausage sat dormant for the entire Elite race, apparently Elite racers are all vegetarians or don’t have time to snag a sausage in the heat of battle, or maybe they are concerned about body fat. Either way, no more sausage for you guys, its going to the other fields from now on.
One group who will be taking the sausage is Adventures for the Cure. After lengthy deliberations in which the Suitcase of Sausage smoked several Gauloises and nervously picked at some frites, the Suitcase signed an additional deal to help out with charitable activities through out the year including a ‘Cross race being put on by AFC next September. Jim McNeely, Sausage scout was overhead saying, “The suitcase just went and got itself moral.” Still no word on whether Adventures for the Cure will co-brand into a new entity with the Suitcase, calling themselves Adventures for the Curing of Meats. We are sure, however, that the Suitcase will return to the Tacchino next year.
It’s often hard to gauge a successful race and there are many ways to measure an event. Perhaps its best to take it in snap shots – the Men’s elite crowd still happily sunbathing as the dudes of the 1-2-3 refuse to take sausage from the announcer, selling more beer at a one day cross event than a two day Oktoberfest last year, a sweaty, crazed turkey chasing people over the barriers or nearly 500 people all smiling at once.
This coming Sunday, November 15, the BikeReg.com MABRAcross Series heads to the historic Frank Ix and Sons campus the fourth annual Urban Cross at Ix in Charlottesville Virginia. For more information, see BikeReg.com.
Race report by Peter Nicoll