Welcome back, or welcome to MIT, as the case may be! Our first ECCC cyclocross race is two months from today, and the local USCF races start in just a couple weeks, so I thought I’d use this month’s newsletter to highlight the local calendar and share my (completely subjective) opinions about some of the races on it.* First, though, some training goals for September.
TRAINING FOR SEPTEMBER
We’re just finishing Week 1 of the Build 1 phase. With base training complete, now is the time to make your training more race-specific. An important workout to include once a week in your training is threshold intervals. Start with two 12 minute intervals at 95 – 100% of threshold (time-trial pace) heart rate and add a little each week. By the start of race season nine weeks from now you should be able to do a single interval the length of your race. The biggest challenge around here is to find a course where you can do 20 to 40 minutes continuously without stoplights, traffic etc. The Charlie Baker course is one option, or take your ‘cross bike to a local park and do it off-road. Here’s one decent route with few stoplights: http://tinyurl.com/5uk4le Ride to Waverly as your warmup, start the first interval up the Mill St climb, and finish the last to the top of the hill on Concord Ave before coasting back down into Belmont.
Continue to do one day per week of tempo work and two days aerobic. The fifth day might be sprints, VO2max intervals, or handling skills. Keep the remaining two days for rest or active recovery (<75% threshold HR) – threshold work takes a lot out of you. Hours come down to perhaps 10 per week.
THE NEW ENGLAND RACE CALENDAR
New England has arguably the richest cyclocross calendar in the country. There are races every weekend from mid-September to mid-December, many a short drive from Boston. With gas averaging $3.59 of late, it’s probably sensible to choose your races by proximity. To that end, I’ve created an interactive Google map of the races. Red markers indicate races we’ll target as a team, and dots in the markers indicate official, points-carrying ECCC races. Check bikereg.com for more detail on each race.
Sun 9/14 – Amesbury Cyclocross, Amesbury MA
Fairly close, in its second year, moderately technical, fun course. A bit rooty last year, but supposedly they’ve corrected that. Recommended.
Sat 9/20 – New England Velo-Cross Challenge, Londonderry NH
Located at the New England Velodrome! New course for this year.
Sun 9/21 – Sucker Brook ‘Cross, Auburn NH
Just off I-93, fast non-technical course, the cupcakes at last years concession stand were highly acclaimed by none other than master framebuilder Richard Sachs.
Sat 9/27 – Green Mountain Cyclocross #1, Williston VT
Sun 9/28 – Green Mountain Cyclocross #2, Williston VT
The first weekend of the Verge New England Championship Cyclocross Series, held at a cross-country ski resort outside Burlington. The Verge series races tend to be well-run, well-attended, and very competitive. With national-caliber pros in the A field, many local A’s race the B race, and some B’s the C, etc. Start line staging is by order-of-registration, and the closer ones such as Gloucester will fill up fast.
Sun 9/28 – Quad ‘Cross 2008, Bedford MA
Very close by, sponsored by Quad Cycles in Arlington. The second year for this course, last year was fast and dusty, like racing in California. Fun!
Sun 10/5 – Coonamessett Eco-Cross, East Falmouth MA
I’m not sure what the Eco- means, other than that they have limited parking and strongly encourage carpooling.
Sun 10/5 – Casco Bay Cyclocross, Biddeford ME
Second year for this one as well. Basically a long dirt road climb followed by long winding grass descent. Fun, in an intervals sort of way . . .
Sat 10/11 – Gran Prix of Gloucester #1, Gloucester MA
Sun 10/12 – Gran Prix of Gloucester #2, Gloucester MA
The Queen of them all, Gloucester is the biggest and one of the oldest races in New England. Part of both the North American Cyclocross Trophy Series and the Verge New England Series, it’s a great race to compete and/or spectate. Most of the top pros will be in attendence, and the venue is simply gorgeous. Fast, non-technical course, but the big fields (up to 125 racers) pose challenges of their own. Note that this is the same weekend as MTB Easterns, so if you have a mountain bike you should do that. If not, registration opens Sept 8, sign up early!
Sat 10/18 – Downeast Cyclocross, New Gloucester ME
Another New England tradition, held at a cross-country ski area and conference center in southern Maine. Moderately technical course – years past have featured mud, a steep run-up, and a long off-camber section. Formerly part of the Verge series.
Sat 10/18 – Mansfield Hollow ‘Cross, Mansfield Center CT
An under-rated little gem of a race in Central Eastern Connecticut. Moderately technical, with some beach runs to make things interesting.
Sun 10/19 – Canton Cup Cyclocross, Canton MA
One of my all-time favorites. Very close by, a fairly fast course with a good mix of terrain. We’ll use Canton as a pre-ECCC warm-up race, so stay tuned for details!
Sat 10/25 – MRC Cyclocross, Wrentham MA
Also close by, but I’ve never done it so I don’t have much to say. They run a training series on Wednesday nights on this course, starting this week.
Sat 10/25 – Opa Opa Beer Cross #1, Dayville CT
I once did a night-time training race here. They lit it with dozens of electric lanterns and hundreds of yards of extension cords. Logistically impressive, but still super sketchy. Their daylight races were pretty dangerous as well, from what I hear. As Phil Liggett would say, I’d give this one a miss.
Sun 10/26 – Wicked Creepy Cyclocross, Bennington VT
Don’t know much about this one. Bennington’s nice!
Sat 11/1 – Cycle-Smart International #1, Northampton MA
Sun 11/2 – Cycle-Smart International #2, Northampton MA
Finally, the first ECCC races of the season! Previously a one-day race, the old course was short, twisty, turny, rooty, with a gnarly run-up. I’m not sure what promoter Adam Myerson will do with the second day this year, but we’ll find out! I’d like to send a decent contingent to each of the two days to start off the ECCC season with a bang. Also part of the Verge series.
Sat 11/8 – Plymouth North Cyclocross, Plymouth MA
Site of two cyclocross national championships, held at Mark McCormack’s high school, a nice balanced course. Past primes have been known to include oysters!
Sat 11/8 – VT Psycho Cross, Brownsville VT
Another sophomore effort, near Mt. Ascutney. Technical, I believe.
Sun 11/9 – Plymouth South Cyclocross, Plymouth MA
Day 2 of Plymouth, at a completely different venue. Super-positive fans cheering you up the tough ride-up. Awesome. Barriers before and after the sand pit. Not so awesome.
Sun 11/9 – West Hill Shop Cyclocross, Putney VT
Another classic New England race, featuring a killer run-up a hundred yards before the finish.
Sun 11/9 – Highland Park Cyclocross, Highland Park NJ
OK, not New England, but the closest non-New England ECCC race. If we can find the money, I’d like to send a few people down to show Rutgers how it’s done. Four day weekend for MIT.
Sat 11/15 – Brockton City of Champions Cross, Brockton MA
Did this a few years ago, can’t remember much except that they scored me as “Pam Williams.” Which was OK, since I’d had a crummy race and didn’t need any cyber-stalkers finding that result on the Google!
Sat 11/15 – Opa Opa Beer Cross #2, Dayville CT
See comments above.
Sun 11/16 – Shedd Park Cyclocross, Lowell MA
Another close one, and an ECCC off-week, so maybe we’ll put together a carpool. Fun course, well balanced.
Sat 11/22 – Cheshire Cyclocross, Cheshire CT
Fun woodsy descent, followed by an epic run up. Search youtube for “Cheshire Cross Hill People” and see for yourself . . .
Sun 11/23 – Easthampton Cyclocross, Easthampton MA
Sat 11/29 – Baystate Cyclocross, Sterling MA
The closest ECCC race, and part of the Verge series. The course is fairly non-technical, but the cool weather could make it interesting.
Sun 11/30 – Palmer Cross & Bike Swap, Palmer MA
Another New England tradition. Pretty technical, I believe, with a lot of dismounts. Talk to Eric or Illana for details.
Sat 12/6 – NBX Gran Prix #1, Warwick RI
Sun 12/7 – NBX Gran Prix #2, Warwick RI
The Verge and ECCC series finale. Another beautiful venue, in a large park on Narragansett Bay. Good mix of terrain, well balanced with a couple good sand sections.
Sun 12/14 – Natz Schmatz Opa Opa Beer Cross Finals, Dayville CT
Irrelevant, since we’ll be in Kansas City at Nationals! Go Engineers!
*The opinions expressed in this email are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MIT Cycling, the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology