I should have submitted this report a long time ago, back when I placed in the money in my first race of the season. Instead, I’m going to give you a wrap-up of the last three weekends, where I got smashed, so we can all get up to speed. In case you didn’t read one of my reports from last year, my name is Evan Murphy, I’m 24, and I race cyclocross for NYC Velo, the best shop ever (and I’m not contractually obligated to say so), in the UCI Elite category, all over New England.
Beginning with Charm City Cross, on September 22 & 23 in Baltimore, MD. I took the bus down to Baltimore and began my weekend by leaving my brand-new sunglasses on the bus, sweet! I glumly built-up my bike and headed over to Druid Hill Park for my first race of the season. The first race actually turned out pretty well. I was in no shape and under prepared but still placed 25th, last on the money and began what I assumed to be a great season.
Photo courtesy of E.M.
Placing 25th in a UCI race, albeit a small one, is no small feat and I was stoked. The next day, however, would prove otherwise as I crashed on the first lap going into the pavement and almost abandoned the race. I luckily had a change of attitude and continued on, finishing on the lead lap. My wounds will heal, of course, and receiving affirmation that my fitness and handling are (sort of) on track made continuing the race a worthy decision.
The following weekend I headed to Gloucester, MA for the Great Brewers Grand Prix of Gloucester and I figured my chances for success were decent. I decided that if I was going to spend the entire race weekend trying not to get lapped by Jeremy Powers, the US national champion, I should try to actually go fast. As luck would have it, I lost my chain catcher on a practice lap because I hadn’t tightened the bolt (and I neglected to have my bike serviced by my sponsor….). This would prove to be my downfall for the weekend. A borrowed catcher was not enough to prevent my chain dropping five times on the first lap on Saturday. All hope lost, I could only spend the rest of my race chasing the back of the field and goofing off; taking dollabill hand-ups and beer feeds. You’ve got to have fun at cross, otherwise you’re doing it wrong, right?
Photo by Lukas Bentel of me giving up, and running the off camber straightaway in providence.
As if my luck could get no worse, on Sunday the rain was pouring, it was windy the whole time, and my rear wheel freehub failed during a practice lap. I crashed every single lap. Any five-minute stretch of time where I kept my bike upright was a win. It wasn’t necessarily hard fitness-wise, but it was becoming clearer to me that my mud handling skills were not up to par. I placed again at the back of the race, frustrated, wet and cold.
Unfortunately, the Providence Cyclocross Festival in Roger Williams Park (Providence, RI) would be no different. Although the first day was dry, the second day was a mudfest. In Saturday’s race, I went go down hard after slotting myself in at 30th place behind New England legend Mark McCormick. The crash and subsequent mechanical bled so many places that I nearly gave up and finished in the back third. The remainder of my Saturday afternoon was spent recuperating from the crash and getting ready for Sunday’s contest.
Sunday’s race was insanity as rain turned the entire course to mud and caused race organizers to add traction to the flyover in order to prevent accidents. As the race went on, I crashed almost every single lap and nearly lost my mind trying to ride the off-camber straightaway. Again, I’m having great starts but I just can’t seem to keep the bike upright in the mud. Is this something other people practice??
Clearly I needed a break, so the following weekend I traveled to Milan, not for a cyclocross race but for a fixed gear crit. You might’ve heard of it; the Red Hook Crit Milano. I won the race, even after crashing on the first lap, and it was the serious boost of confidence that I needed. Coming back I hope to compete in this weekend’s race to the best of my abilities, I just need to stop crashing!
Photo by Team Sixcycle
Thanks for reading and thank you so much to my sponsors for their support, as well as the organizers of all the above mentioned races. I will continue my reports for the rest of the season, and hope you follow me along.