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Marty Cross was 20 and 21 October; Saturday doubled as the NJ State Cyclocross championships. With fabulous weather, I got out to watch some of the action and take pictures. Due to time constraints, I was only able to watch a couple of races. Thus, this isn’t a race report per se.
The venue was a 1.5 mile course at the municipal park in Chester, NJ, by the infamous telephone pole forest. The loop was in remarkably good shape given the torrents of rain that fell on Friday.
“It’s pretty dry, there’s nothing really that bad here today. When the sun came out, the little run-up was slick. A couple of corners are slick but it keeps that technical edge there,” said one rider, who identified himself as Roger.
“It’s probably one of the hilliest ‘cross courses we’ve encountered in New Jersey,” he continued. “Just real relentless. More of a time trial than last week’s race which was really flat and tactical. Just go as hard as you can for 45 minutes and hopefully you get a [podium] position at the end.”
A rider who I saw previewing the course on Wednesday agreed with Roger’s take. When I asked about the lack of surface variety, he said the course was so hilly and technical, it didn’t need that much change in riding surface.
“What’s more important in cyclocross VO2 max or bike handling?” I asked. Typical question for your editor, almost exclusively a road rider.
“Bike handling for sure,” he replied. “I’ve seen guys that are phenomenal road riders that really can’t handle cyclocross and guys who wouldn’t figure in a road race really dominate a ‘cross race. It’s different even from mountain biking because there isn’t that fast element. You need a little bit of both.”
It looks appealing to your editor, who’s raced plenty on skis and on foot, but never on a bike. While cyclocross features surface variation, there’s none of the rooty, rocky technical stuff you may find on a mountain bike trail. On a ride the next day, Lars pointed out that riding a ‘cross bike on grass is like skate skiing in soggy April snow. The wet grass and mud don’t allow easy gliding. Midway through the lap, there was a short but steep grunt hill that almost everyone ran up, and you could see their cleats slipping in the mud.
Enjoy the photos. I apologize for not having photos of female racers, but I could only be there for a limited time. If you were in the race, please feel free to comment. How was it?