NCCX Hendersonville – GP weekend – my second CX race ever!

Next up on the racing calendar – after my first CX race at Greenville CX Cup – was to do my first event in the North Carolina Cyclocross series.  Fairly close to home, I drove up Friday afternoon to pre-ride the race and see what this course had in store…

This was quite the contrast to my first race.  NCCX is an established series and it shows – there were tons of people out Friday afternoon checking out the course!

For an overview of the course here is a great video of an elite race from a few years ago:

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I should have thought to bring our RV … what a great idea as a race support vehicle

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The next day I got up early to get to the course in time for an 8:30am race start.

Ready with my new Bike Law kit – if you can’t be fast you should at least look fast!

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Given the compressed schedule to make room for the GP races in the afternoon, all the CX4/5 categories were mashed together at 8:30am.  Another baptism by fire … Men’s CX4/5 followed by Masters CX 4/5 and then Women’s CX 4/5.

It was a staggered start by these three groups – I took off with the Men’s CX 4/5 group, watched them pull away from me and tried not to get in the way as most everyone, including the ladies, passed me by.

Towards the end I was struggling – truth be told I probably should not have raced, having come down with a cold only a few days before.  But I was determined to at least see the course, and tried to not push too hard.  But that went by the wayside as the prospect of finishing last became a very real possibility!

The one place I tried to make a good show of it was the big run-up, or “the wall.”   This was a spectator heavy spot and everyone cheers like mad.  First two laps I held some back to make this climb.  Then my third lap I had an opportunity to catch and pass a guy on the dirt “singletrack” in the woods.  I pushed up the hill, held on to make the pass and then started through the few turns to the Wall.  But before I got there I saw my HR get a little too high and discovered what it’s like to “blow up.”  Seems like 185bpm is about max for me!  Side stitches and the whole nine yards slowed me down, to where I had to dismount and walk up the Wall.

I gathered myself and rode through the last few turns to start/finish – wondering if I had more to go, or if I was going to get pulled being so far back.  I technically hadn’t been lapped (yet) but the race official probably did me a huge favor by waving me off the course.

I was glad to do it.  Everything hurt.  So I guess I raced just about right – leave it all out there!

I collected myself and got some warm clothes on and found my way to where they posted the results.

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Not last this time!

Strava link for the race

Afterwards I took some photos of notable sections:

The barriers

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End of a fairly long straight to the rooted climb in the woods..

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Fairly technical through here.

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Near the top:

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Better get some speed to make it up this climb!

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This junior racer did a great job making it up the Wall

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A short video of the singlespeed / junior racers attacking this climb.

Spectator / vendor section.

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NCCX really puts on a great event.  Registration for easy enough for a newbie like me to figure out, ample parking, course was marked very well … nice job.

Hopefully I’ll make it to the two race season finale in Asheville, at the Biltmore!

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