The day in Londonderry, NH was crisp and cool but adrenaline kept the assembled cyclists warm. At a glance, the course looked interesting. It included a giant outdoor velodrome and BMX track with tabletops and loopty-loops. Amber and I quickly suited up so we could preview the course before our 10AM start time. As our camera died after one picture, I had to get creative with the graphics:
1.) Start/finish on the slanted track of the velodrome.
2.) The first barrier section, after a winding loop in the infield.
3.) The second barrier section came up after a few muddy turns. Then, a sharp turn up over the pavement.
4.) After leaving the pavement, there was a quick muddy hill that could jump up to bite you if you weren't careful. Then onto a gravel road up a graded incline into the woods.
5.) After a hairpin turn, it was down a sharp incline into a few inches of mud. Woooo keep that front tire straight! Then hammer on the brakes to make the sharp right hand turn instead of colliding with some rather large trees.
6.) Snake around the trees and roots and roll down and over a wooden bridge over the stream. Then up a short steep section (start the heart-rate climbing!) and a few paces of continued climbing before dropping quickly down to a really loose, sketchy hairpin turn.
7.) Come out of that hairpin turn with as much momentum as you can, cause then you hit a medium uphill section with a rock marking the middle. If you can ride past the rock, you're golden. Otherwise, you're runnin'. Heart-rate skyrocketed at this point. Oy.
8.) Try to control your breathing as you snake your way between rocks and roots on the cruising single-track. Then pop out of the woods while navigating another sketchy downhill turn.
9.) Try to keep your momentum while staying vertical through the deep pellets and around the PortiPoty (a fantastic scent just when you need full breath of oxygen).
10.) Then roll into the BMX part. AWESOME. All packed sand. There were 2 banked corners, 4 or 5 tabletops and a loopty-loop section. If you knew how to ride these and throw your weight around, this was a blast!!!
11.) Then drop back down the steep slant of the velodrome corner to start another lap. This was where you could really put the hammer down -- and it was good if you had glasses here because all of that mud and dirt was flung off the tires at supersonic speeds.
In summary, this course was a perfect blend of fast roadie sections and tricky handling sections. It was a shorter loop than other courses, so you could do it 7 or 8 times in your race, but it was continuously changing so you had to keep on your toes to find the best line. The BMX area was a blast every time.
For the women's race, we had a decent gathering (25-30) because it was Cat 4, 35+ and the older Juniors all together, which meant there was always someone to chase or stay away from. It was my best race of the season (of course -- the downside of racing into shape is that you're just coming around as the season ENDS!), finishing 6th out of 16 Cat 4's. Amber worked on her bike handling skills and started planning her assault for next year... (watch out ladies!)... The boys had a great 3/4 race and looked strong throughout.
As always, the Penguin team kits and bikes were bangin' and making us all look good. Go Flying Penguins!!!