Monday, October 26, 2015

Orchard Cross at Applecrest Farm 2015

This was one of my favorites last year and I believe it was also my best points result for 2014 as well.  It really is a great venue and event.  All kinds of nicknames are forming...Grassroots New England World Champs will stick I'm sure.  I don't know how hard Applecrest Farm orchards but if its anywhere near as hard as they CX then that is pretty impressive.  They certainly seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.  That new market / bistro thing they built is pretty damn impressive.  If we lived down there I bet we would be there a lot.

This year they used their farm equipment might and the help of a local landscaper to build an entire pump track in a field the night before the race complete with two big table tops, a 180 degree berm, and a series of rollers to pump.  The rest of the course was pretty comparable to last year with some grass straightaways, high speed corners, two sets of barriers, and a run up with stairs.


The 4/5 race was fully loaded at 100 riders and I had managed to lower my points enough this year for a front row start.  Not only that but race predictor had me on the podium which was very new for me.  It had been raining a bit all morning and the course was greasy and slick during pre-ride.  This had me very pleased.  Mud always seems to do me favors when it comes to my results.  I staged up middle left because of the line I wanted going through the little chicane turn before the first straight-away false flat.

Got a good start and was 3rd wheel heading into said chicane.  My line was correct and I exited said chicane winning the race.  This was VERY WEIRD.  I have never been at the front end of any cross race let alone a full 100 rider field.  Knowing that there is this mass of riders right behind you but having your path be completely clear and quiet is weirdly surreal.  I traded spots with Addison Minott a few times but I led a decent amount of the first lap.  I lapped through in second and was feeling pretty comfortable being there.  There were 4 of us in the lead group, pace wasn't too volatile early on lap 2.  Seemed we were all getting sorted and settled into something resembling a sustainable pace before we started attacking.

lap 1 run up at the front of the race

Unfortunately for me I didn't make it to the fun attacking part because heading into the run up on lap 2 I forgot to bring my bike with me after my dismount.  Not sure exactly what happened but as I went to clip out right before the stairs and grab my bike to run I either slipped or just missed the grab and basically just dropped my bike on the ground right across the track.  Luckily I didn't screw anyone else up but the lead group ran away while I got sorted.  Lost about 15-20 secs and finished about 15-20 secs off the podium. CYCLOCROSS!
A video posted by @kevinorlowski on

There was a bit more intrigue than that though.  I wallowed in no mans land for the rest of lap 2 and much of lap 3 trying to bridge back no avail.  Brian Cole was creeping behind me the whole time and eventually I could tell he was closing.  Lap 3 or maybe 4(?) I had a temporal issue getting back up onto my big ring on a straight-away and Brian powered past me.  I got shifting issues sorted before I lost his wheel and got back to proper racing.  Towards the end of 2 to go Jose Ordovas came up to us out of nowhere and we were a group of 3 going for 4-5-6.  Jose promptly crashed in one of the slickest corners on the course and I thought that was probably it for him based on the gap that opened up.

Brian and I were working relatively well together but Jose did it again and completely snuck back up out of nowhere.  He redeemed himself and made a good pass on the corner were he had crashed the previous lap.  He got a tiny gap heading into the pump track section and I was worried about diminishing real estate to get him back so I went all in at the entrance to the pump track section.  I left it in the big ring and was out of the saddle and hammering the whole way up.  I think I was probably a bit more comfortable than Jose on those features and was able to sneak by on the rollers.  I held the gap heading  back up to the grass but he passed me back shortly after.  I had to dig REALLY deep to stay on his wheel.  All that was left was a few turns, the barriers and then a short little out and back with a 180 before the finish.

I was hypoxic but right with him heading into the barriers.  He bobbled ever so slightly on the entrance and I got a half step through the barriers that turned into a bike length on the remount.  I think my remount must have been a bit smoother as well but I'm not entirely sure what was happening behind me.  I was focused on getting through the 180 fast and clean because from the other races I had watched coming by someone who didn't mess up that turn was near impossible in the distance that was left after.  I didn't leave anything to chance though and went as hard as I could to the line to take 4th.

I was really pleased to win out of that group.  That killer instinct to make those moves and hold those wheels when needed is not something I excel at.  I blame my lack of a truly competitive nature but I do like getting the most out of myself and there were certainly a few times my brain was telling me I did not have the capacity in that moment and I ignored it to great effect.

I'll be looking to put the finishing touches on my race resume for my Cat 3 upgrade request this coming weekend with the VT double of Paradise and Putney and then after that it might just be fat biking to end out the year.  

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