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Harry & The Hendersonville’s: Your NCGP Re-Cap

Featured image is also Mansour’s Race Report!

We dressed our Birdsong Brewing/Common Market/Classic Cycling cx crew in stretchy pants and sent them north to a muddy Hendersonville to race NCCX #10 and #11; coinciding with the UCI ranked North Carolina GP. The domestic pro’s are in a very tight race for the championship, so the likes of Tim Johnson, Ben Berden, Jeremy Powers, Adam Myerson, Anthony Clark and Zach MacDonald were all in attendance.

Here is their take!

WOJTEK WRAPS UP FLCX

Never before this season have I went over my handlebars. Not since I was 9 years old making dirt ramps in the woods. This weekend’s race in Gainesville added 2 more endos bringing my 2013 tally to 5. And of course, since we’re in the northern hemisphere, I always rotate to land on my left shoulder. The course, even though it was called swamp cross, and even though it rained and t-stormed for 2 days straight, was the grippiest, velcro-iest course I’ve ever ridden. That FL grass is no joke. Long and short – I’ve been off the bike for 3 weeks healing up from tendonitis and my torn shoulder (from endo#1 of the season). I came into this race with low expectations. I just wanted to hang with the awesome FLCX crowd before I move. I started the CX3 race on the wheel of the eventual winner. I got dropped on lap 2. The course had 3 long grinding hills with a deep sandpit at the top of the second one. This is where endo #4 occured. Nice soft landing in super fluffy sandbox sand that was trucked in for the event. Here I got picked up by the chase group who eventually pulled away from me as I was feeling the effects of my lack of fitness. I’m pretty happy with 4th. I’ve beaten the guys who podiumed before, but they’re solid racers.

SS was billed as the Southeast Singlespeed Cyclocross Championship (SESSCXC). I lined up in the back since I was still recovering from my cx3 race. I knew I was going to have trouble. I didn’t expect a hilly course and didn’t bring extra hardware with me. A bunch of ziptied geared bikes lined up with their convenient gear selection and I knew I was done from the beginning. On lap 1, I was in 3rd when I hit the minibarriers at too high of a speed. I misjudged my hop and my front wheel hit the barrier and I endoed high and fast, landing on my back inches from the second barrier. I could have a broken back if I hit that. The barriers were four 2×4’s stacked on top of each other. The breath got knocked out of me, but I recovered on the climb to the sandpit. Luckily, I rotated and landed on my back instead of hitting that shoulder hard for a third time this season. The grind in my 42-16 was near impossible. I was getting passed like crazy. After 2 laps (when I realized it’s a 45 minute race and there were more laps than the cat3 race), i said fuck it and started taking short cuts all over the course. I’m pretty sure cross-copter caught me skipping the barriers. I proceded to my cooler and started to drink. there was a really good race between Josh Thornton and Eric Stubbs, two high caliber racers. Eric dropped his chain on the second to last lap, and Thornton came aorund one more time for the victory. What a Contador! He should have waited. No joke, this guy got a SESSCXC tattoo that night, though he won on a ziptied Focus Mares. makes me question his commitment to SSCX.

I’ve got one more race down here to prove myself in early January. I’m not gonna have my SS, and I refuse to race with zipties, so it’ll just be CX3 for me. Gotta stand on the top step of the podium at least once this season. This is my chance.

GEORGE ON NCGP

How to describe the weekend’s actual ‘cross racing in Hendersonville–the biggest cyclocross race weekend the state’s probably every witnessed? Well, in a sentence–it was like being in a Belgian race, minus the smell of pig sh*t, bad tobacco smoke, and fried food wafting across the course as you were struggling to race. Otherwise it was almost exactly the same. As racers, we do this peculiar niche sport for a number of reasons; but I’m pretty sure that deep down–and as much as we like to say differently–we don’t like racing in 6-inch deep mud, cold driving rain and 20mph wind. But that–and more–is what we faced both Saturday and Sunday at the UCI North Carolina Gran Prix (for the pros) and races 10 and 11 in the NCCX series (for the amateurs).

My races were the first one on each of the two days; Rufio, David Beverly and I lined up to start the days in the combo CX4/5 and Masters CX$/5 race. Fewer spectators to watch the carnage ensuing, of course, but still a lot of friends around to cheer us around the worst of it. After coming back from the cracked rib injury at Salisbury last weekend, my only plan was to try to stay wheels down, not blow my heart up, and practice my bike driving. Which I could do, since without any fitness to speak of, I watched much of the field sprint away from me by midway through the first lap both days. On Saturday, I had a great start and felt good until the first major little up-and-down hill–when a guy went down in front of me on the slimy descent and I couldn’t help riding over him. Better him than his bike, I guess–he didn’t seem to mind and nothing broke. But by the mid-course long slog in the grass past the pits, I had burned a match too many for that lap and I lost a few places, and knew I’d catch back when we went up the long hill in the woods. I ran most of it each time, shouldering the bike–that’s a real accomplishment for me, since I’ve never been much of a runner. But now that I’ve finally adopted the Klaas van Tourenhout technique (Google the video), it’s much easier to go long distances with the bike locked on your back. It was really nice to see Weldon in the woods taking pictures!

Saturday’s race, overall, was relatively fast for the conditions–it was cold, rainy and starting to get muddy–the main ‘wall’ was unrideable for me this year (couldn’t get enough speed on the short asphalt stretch, unlike last year’s SSCX race when I could ride it every time)–but it was much more fun than Sunday’s…when the course (even the new sections that were switched overnight) were just sloppy by the end. Most of the course was either 3-6″ deep, slippery mud or under puddles of water, and we went from trying to find any line at all to ride in to trying to find the puddles to get some of the mud off the brakes and derailleurs. Overall, I placed 29th/39 on Saturday, still feeling my way back into racing; and 26th/43 on Sunday, when I got more of a handle on it, and know what to do better than some of the newer racers. I’m still not in any kind of shape, but I’m looking forward to racing after the holidays, now that I have my sights set on some of the racers who’ve been a number of places in front of me in all three races, and are well ahead of me in the Omnium. Who knows–by the season’s end I could be up there into the top half of the pack…January is usually a good month for me.

We had a great time with the Birdsong Brewing p/b Common Market Classic Cycling and Faster Mustache tent combo; they brought most of the beer the first day, and we provided most the second…with Carolina Common and Free Will Pale Ale being the main contenders and Mexicali Stout working its way into the mix. A highlight–Stacy Grosch giving #2-ranked US pro Tim Johnson a dollar-bill hand-up on Saturday…then having him toss his Oakleys to us for safe-keeping on Sunday. Hendersonville is always a real blast, and a highlight of the season. Everyone on the team did well–Rufio did great in both the 4/5 and SSCX races (back-to-back, in this slop, a huge accomplishment in and of itself); David ‘Kevin’ Beverly moved up on Sunday from an already-strong performance the day before; David Crews did NOT have to unexpectedly run half the course, but Stacy kept him motivated with the PBR sign; and Mansour kept it together against an incredibly strong CX 2/3 field during the last race of each day, when I’d imagine the ‘crickets’ on the course after most people left and it’s starting to get dark would have been demoralizing.

See you all in January, where it’s typically cold, but mostly dry. We’ve got four races left–Winston-Salem on the 4th; Greensboro the next day; then two races at the Biltmore Estate on the 18th and 19th–giving the site of the 2016 US CX Nats their first shake-down test. And Wojtek will be back with us–let’s see how thick his blood is after the stint in Florida!

DAVID “KEVIN” BEVERLY

Day 1:
So I arrived in Hendersonville around 8am figuring I would have time to do a lap or two before my race at 9am. I got all suited up and went to go pick up my timing chip. However, that took a half hour so preriding/warming up was out of the question since they started callups 20 minutes before the race. Good start to the day. Shockingly, since enough people didn’t show up to race in the lovely 38F and rain I got a callup to the front row. This was completely new territory for me. I then proceeded to ruin it with a bad start, which made things that much better on a course that I did not know at all. First lap there were several pileups of people which is always entertaining if you are not involved yourself. The conditions hadn’t deteriorated too much yet so I was riding everything (not that it was faster just prideful really) except the woods section or the wall. I ended up battling with a few guys who were faster on the paved sections but I could catch them in technical parts. I ended up 19th which wasn’t terrible considering the conditions. After the race on the cold trek back to the tent the announcer asked me how the race went. I felt like Ricky Bobby, I had no idea what to do with my hands (mostly because they were frozen to my handlebar) and I just stuttered out some nonsense about how I had fun when I was really looking forward to my thermos of coffee, a skillet of bacon, and a growler of mexicali stout. Also, I managed to talk to Robert Marion, NC guy turned pro, about the course while naked with a towel around wrapped around my waist. Nice guy, nicer beard.

After I regained all feeling we had a lovely time drinking beer and eating bacon while watching the look of disgust on all the racers face as they enjoyed the 8″ of mud and puddles so deep your bottom bracket was completely submerged.

Day 2:
Preriding the course was out of the question with much mud was out there. So I borrowed Mansour’s bike and used it on his trainer. It felt like I was pedalling a bmx bike it was so small, but at least the blood was flowing through my legs a little bit before the race. Again, I got a front row start. This time I didn’t screw it up though and I was with the top 8 guys heading into the slop. Again, multiple pileups with the best one having two guys sliding backwards down a hill still attached to their bikes. With the conditions being like they were I left all my pride in the car about having to ride everything and decided to run when necessary. Necessary turned out to be about a quarter of the course. I put my long legs and frozen club feet to work and probably passed 10 people as they tried to ride certain sections. I ended up finishing 15th.

Again, after I warmed up in the car and we got the beer flowing like wine and the heckling was superb. The sun even came out. Overall it was a great weekend with crappy weather, sloppy course conditions, and great friends who made the most of it all.