Dearest Gloucester, the New England Worlds, the Dunkin Donuts of Bavarian Cream. You had me hooked on my first taste in 2008. Of course it helped that I won both days…but even still it was the fanfare, the heckling, the atmosphere, the town. People can say all they want that Portland has the best cross scene but I beg to differ. Come to Gloucester and I betcha, whether you win the giant beer or whether you’re lapped and take a beer feed you’ll be hooked.
My dad and I drove to Beverly Friday evening after an ordeal of getting the Schlamm bus very stuck in our rain drenched yard. But I hope that will be another saga I will write about later. Matt Roy set us up with lovely host housing with his parents on the water in Beverly. Cycling opens doors to some of the most gracious people this world has to offer, and for that I am happy with this obsession I am living. We arrived in a rain drenched sky and I was ready and amped for a real mudder. But no, Gloucester hadn’t received the continual 3 days of pissing rain that we were drowning in in Jericho. Instead we woke this morning to perfect blue skies and a balmy yet windy fall day. I got out for a morning spin along 127, a windy road that wraps along the ocean. The closest we have to this in Boulder is the stretch beside the reservoir.
At 11 we were on our way to the venue as I felt the nerves hatching like chicklets. The tough part about this race is leaving enough time for socializing. I thought my generous 3 hours would suffice but I still found myself scrambling. Fortunately my dad, sporting his AD/CD shirt helped me carry bags and bikes to the enormous Schlamm bus, where I set up camp for the day. Pedro’s set up a wicked lounge in the middle of all the action. I was lucky to receive an invite from them and they helped me out bigtime, cleaning and ensuring my bikes were shifting like prizefighters. They even stood in the pits for me and yelled things like “pedal harder!”, “bat those eyelashes!”, “SWING battah battah”, “you can’t have your cake with that crappy cadence!” The energy that fuels Pedro’s is contagious and they are a company you want your bike lubed with.
The race…well, nothing went wrong, but there wasn’t a whole lot going well. I’ve had days where I seem to get off on a bad note right from the start: a slow start, crashes, getting caught in crashes, sloppy handling, mechanicals of some sorts; but that was all on the clear card today. Good start and leading through the technical sections, I’d hear crashes right behind me. Later in the race there were crashes in front of me that I could avoid. It was as if all these opportunities were on a dessert plate for me, but all I had were chop sticks. Nope, just didn’t have the legs today to make a pop stick when the popcorn popped. Through riding corners smoothly I was able to stay at the front of the race, but as soon as the pace was pushed in a faster section I couldn’t hold on. Laura Van Gilder and Meredith Miller quickly opened a gap with 2 laps to go and battled it out. Both are strong saavy riders, and in the end LVG busted out her sprinting prowess and 35-career-win sass to take the New England Rainbow Stripes. I switched modes to damage control and barely held onto 5th place behind Natasha Elliot and Wendy Simms (back from baby hatching!).
And now I am tired and going home to VT, typing to pass the 4hr drive as my dad mans the wheel. While the aforementioned women are duking it out tomorrow I will most likely be taking a nap or drinking a cup of tea.