Got to ride in my 3rd race Sunday, and it was another incredible time. I almost didn't get lapped (I score races from the bottom up, so I came in in the top three--what a badass), and got to do the whole thing on the slipperiest conditions I've ever seen. At the beginning of the race, the director warned riders not to ride above their ability. I smiled and yelled out, "Too late!"
The Cat4 race started at 8:30 am, just after enough snow had fallen to pack down under warmer uppers on the course, so there were many falls throughout. Some spots were like riding on ice, or were ice. Most wipes I saw seemed pretty tame since folks were going relatively slow anyway. I managed to stay on my bike almost the whole time, but fell once in the middle of the race and again towards the end (bashed my knee solidly on a root!).
This course by far had the best running sections of the 3 I've ridden. Both were fairly deep sand runs for a while (80-100 feet?) and were welcome because I love to run. The biggest difference from riding on such a slippery course was that fitness played less of a role (for me anyway). No real puke threat. I could only crank on totally flat surfaces, and even then it was sketchy. Otherwise. I was going as fast as I could within reason. A real nice guy who beat me (an older guy, I learned later, who had had, no kidding, a hip replacement) passed me somewhere on the first lap and I spent the rest of the time focused on catching him. Technical sections were extra slow cause of the ice and snow, but I've come to really like trying to figure them out.
Tire pressure was too high, but I was glad to have my slightly bigger tires (26x1.5). Also, my pedals froze up I guess--I couldn't clip back in for stretches of time. The dude with the hip replacement suggested PAM in race conditions like that. My old, red Specialized Hard Rock, which I bought for $50 bucks and put Continental Cross Countries on, performed admirably for my first season. Not sure what I'll do for next season, but am thinking about picking up a Kona Jake or Motobecane Phantom to mess around with.
Each course was completely different--1 warm + dry, 2 super mudfest, 3 snow and ice. I'm definitely hooked.
It wasn't that cold (well, it was colder than 60s)--air was fairly humid, so it wasn't raw or anything. The snow would have been great except for the slickness everywhere. I'd say if you're into cyclocross, figuring out a race to travel for that you can do in possible snow may be worth it. Just bring some PAM to spray your pedals with! Like I said, I had a great time.
I thought the venue (Goddard Park in Warwick, RI--NBX G.P. of Cross / Verge New England Championship 9) was really cool too. It was spectator friendly--there were a lot of spots to watch races from and see different parts of the course so it felt pretty interactive even if you weren't racing. A long foot bridge spanned over the finish line so you can watch all the finishes clearly. Especially good for bringing family or friends who might otherwise get bored (or cold) just standing around.
man, cross in the snow sounds like fun. Im going to only my second race tomorrow morning, im so excited. the venue im going to is very flat and hard packed dirt, and just a short section with sand. My first time last week i placed last last, mainly because i was just focused on not hurting myself haha.