I had been waffling about which race to do this weekend — Edgefield or Salem. Since my brother and his wife were coming into town on Saturday and would be arriving a little before my race time, I decided the closer race would be the best choice. While I heard great things about the conflicting race in Salem, Edgefield presented a classic hard CX course. It had everything you could have hoped for except a sand pit. If you want to pick nits, the start could have been better but it worked out fine given the field sizes.
There is a lot of topography and varied surfaces to play with out at Edgefield. We hit cart paths, pavement, grass (groomed and bumpy field) and even some bark chips. The weather even worked out well because it rained all Friday evening and over night but didn’t do more than spit on Saturday. So we had all the benefits of some mud without the detriments of rain during pre-ride and warm ups.
The start was on some pavement and dumped into an uphill cart path pretty quick. Soon that hair pinned and went back down cart path to some vinyard service road (2-track). Back to cart path heading up hill which ended in a steep grass run up to cart path again (keep running or try to remount) which quickly turned more uphill over a ditch (long jump or you might lose a shoe). Now you might think being on the top of the course would be great. Except it dove back down on some gravel (sketchy) and just when you could get some speed on a flat bit, it turned back up hill on grass (run). Okay, now you are on top. Gravel 2-track for a bit (into the wind) which curved down hill for lots of speed before …
A super greasy off camber right hand turn into the field. The field bent down hill slightly over very bumpy stuff. At the bottom of the field were double planks just before a tight left hand turn. The question was to run the turn or remount (I remounted and it worked better than those who ran I think). Back up the bumpy field and briefly onto some pavement which curved to the left and went over a nasty curb and a plank so you had to dismount anyway.
Then we went around the correctional facility which looked like an asterisk from the top. We went into and out of three of the alcoves (greasy turns each time) right into the wall. It was a short run but I swear the pitch was steeper than 45 degrees. The only way to get up was to use the “steps” kicked into the face. It was perhaps 12 feet tall.
Then back around on pavement for a brief respite and continuing on some packed gravel. The honeymoon ends with a bumpy, crappy transition to the field and greasy left hand turn. That briefly bumps you down hill to a greasy off camber sweeping right hander bordered by blackberry brambles. Bump along the field some more (relatively flat for a change) to a greasy left hand turn that goes down a sort of steep hill featuring a bump that could get you airborne if you wanted/weren’t careful. At the bottom of the hill was another greasy left hander and a flat almost not bumpy section of field.
All that ended with a little jog up and over a paved path (nasty lip) and then onto some grass/mud. That section was pretty short but featured a heavily rutted dip and ended in a sketchy turn into the bark chips. The chips sapped speed as it went gently up hill to pavement and a short sharp climb. That turned right and continued on pavement briefly and then went through a short grass section with a few gentle bends and undulations to make it interesting. Then pavement and a left hander to the start/finish.
That course kept you on your toes 100% of the time.
So my actual race? I toed the line with 14 other single speed riders and took the whistle. I got fourth wheel off the line behind the eventual top three finishers. I kept them in spitting distance for about half a lap. At which time, Scott Barker (remember last week?) came around me and lead through to the start of lap two. I distanced him on the hill and run ups and spent the rest of the lap feeling him get closer. I thought I had put him away on the third lap but he was clawing his way back on the bell lap and I nailed the whole second half of the course to hold him off by a good margin.
It was almost a carbon copy of the previous week. I took fourth and Scott got fifth.