After the wildest, most bizarre and haphazard airline experience of our lives, my Dad and I made it to Walpole, Massachusetts and The Boston Rebellion, aka the last stop of the Ridebiker Alliance US Cup Pro XC Tour.
Walpole, MA is a quaint and tidy little New England town. Neatly-shuttered two story colonial homes line the narrow, two-lane roads named after families who have remained there for generations alongside the green and gently sloping “mountains” of Massachusetts. Like many other tiny towns on the East Coast, Walpole began as a saw mill and iron town. Nowadays, it is home to many Boston commuters, professor-types, and families looking to avoid the city’s urban rumblings. It had been a long time since my travels brought me East of the Mississippi, and I’d nearly forgotten how peaceful the lush fields and forests of Massachusetts can be.
With my precious Niner Air 9 RDO finally stashed safely away in the back of our rental car, we pulled up to Adam’s Farm the evening before the race to check in on course conditions and appreciate Groundskeeper Stu’s fine work on the A-Line drop. Thank you Jena Greaser for the fantastic tour of your hometown course!
The course terrain was amazing. Everything you hear about East coast riding is pretty much true: it is rocky, the roots and rock gardens are, in fact, very slippery when wet, and what these courses lack in elevation gains, they definitely make up in gut-punchy sharp rises and rapid transitions. From rock garden to root climb, to steep short descent, to (yet another) 90 degree corner- the only “breaks” in terrain were two doubletrack jeep roads stringing the 3.5 mile lap together.
Race day brought us warm, humid New England conditions. Coming from the dry, western heat, I felt like I was wearing a soggy gym bag by the time I was called to line up (in the SECOND ROW!!!). As an HC level UCI event (one notch down from a World Cup), riders in this event could accumulate an increased number of valuable UCI points towards their rankings and World Cup starts. With Mount Saint Anne happening the following week, a number of international riders joined the field: Hungary, Canada, Czech Republic, Australia, Germany and riders from all over the US were all represented over the weekend.
The XC course was so exciting and exhilarating to race, especially that A-Line drop. Unfortunately I probably had a little too much fun in one of the rock gardens on Lap 3, flatting with 3 miles to go and no way to fix a puncture. In hopes of still finishing inside the UCI points, I rode/ran/flintstoned my bike through the forest and finally across the line. After all of the trouble to hunt down my bike (driving through the night and across three states the night before), I was not about to be discouraged. I finished up just behind another rider who’d had similar bike problems and later learned that 3 other riders had flatted out and been unable to finish at all.
Short Track XC racing has become one of my very favorite things. So has racing in the rain. The combination of the two is amazing, in my book anyways- especially if you have the right tires for the job (and boy did I ever!) After seeing my poor bike in the stand, Roger from Kenda Tires came to my rescue with a set of Honey Badger Pro 29x2.2’s. Those things don’t mess around and would have been amazing the day before in XC! After a solid start, some good luck and more than a few gut wrenching attacks, I found myself finishing on the leader’s lap. Crosseyed, giddy and muddy, I slowed my bike in the finish chute and called it a good day and well-worth the past 48 hours troubles and misfortunes.
Following wonderful visit with Grandma, and Aunts and Uncles and cousins in VT and MA, it was time to pack up and take our chances flying home. This season has been such a fantastic adventure and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for what 2017 might hold in store! Thank you to my incredible support team, family and husband Greg. And the #1 Thank you to my Dad for co-piloting our crazy adventure in Boston!