Clarkson Race Weekend

After Attitash, the MTB team headed out to Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY (aka ‘So Far It’s Basically Canada’) to defend our lead in the DII Team Omnium. Only Luke Chellis and I were brave enough to undertake the 6+ hr drive to the Northlands, which quickly became a 8 h0ur odyssey as we got lost driving in the rain without directions or a cell phone with any juice left on the battery. Tired, and not super excited about the cold rain, we checked into a motel 20 miles past the race (though only after sadly inquiring about the possibility of camping on the lawn of other establishments) sometime after 2 am, several hours later than we expected.

After some sleep, however, the motel breakfast somehow made it all seem worth it. Having eaten a lion’s share of pastries, bacon, and waffles, we headed over to Clarkson for the XC races. The XC race was actually held on Clarkson’s Campus – they had an awesome, fast, and flowy 4.5-mile singletrack just off into the woods that they had built themselves. While according to strava, the race only had 25 ft of elevation gain per lap, I found it strangely challenging – I’m not really used to pedaling all the time on a mountain bike, and the many bermed  required really good handling skills. Luke and I had an awesome time taking fast laps around this course (it was refreshing to not have to get off my bike in a race after Attitah),and afterwards we headed over to Seven Springs for the Dual Slalom. Apparently, Seven Springs used to be a ski area, but now has the lifts removed and is owned by CU. The students there built a bunch of sweet downhill and jump trails, as well as the dual slalom track. I can’t say I did too great at DS, but hey, MIT has to represent in gravity sometime right?

After we finished up, Luke and I went on a bit of a local food odyssey. Our first stop was at a sweet corn stand we had been seeing signs for all day, where we scored 12 ears for $3. We also went by an orchard and picked up a bag of apples before returning to Seven Springs to set up camp. We camped at the base of the mountain with some folks from Dartmouth and Shippensburg, and enjoyed an excellent bonfire with wood supplied by Clarkson from the scraps of a local Mennonite sawmill.

The following day’s short track was no less excellent than the XC race, plus it had a few small kickers thrown in to mix it up. Flat races like this have made me realize that I definitely still have a lot that I can learn in terms of handling skills! After such an excellent weekend of crisp fall weather and racing, the long drive both ways was definitely worth it. I hope they’ll host a race again next year!