I went to Detroit today to try the Mad Anthony cyclocross race. The race is held on the site of the historic Fort Wayne right on the Detroit River across from Canada. The fort dates back to the pre-Revolutionary days. (If you are unfamiliar with cyclocross racing, check THIS wikipedia or google cyclocross videos).
I decided Friday afternoon to do both the C and the B race. I was a bit concerned about racing just the B event since this was a USAC-licensed event, the rules are that when you are lapped you must drop out and I didn’t want to drive over to get lapped and pulled from the event. Looking at last year’s events, team captain Rick placed approximately 23 of 25 racers that were considered finishers with a dozen “lapped” riders behind that. If Rick was close to the bottom and I am slower than him, I was concerned about holding my own on this event. So, to make the drive worthwhile, I opted to race BOTH the C and the B race. I figured I’d be fairly safe racing C and finish the event. Then, racing B, I’d get a couple laps in and if pulled, I’d get some mileage anyway.
Turned out they didn’t pull racers, but they did post results with those “lapped” racers as a lap down. Turns out, I wasn’t in that category in EITHER race!!
The course was approximately 2.35 miles long starting inside the fort and making a quick hard right on the outside moat to circle the west and north side of the wall before turning back and heading up on the grass. The course had one long stretch of pavement fronting old NCO housing units, up on the grass after that, followed by a hard run-up hill and down onto a long long packed gravel flat stretch around a soccer field. The NCO-road and this packed gravel really favored the sprint roadies who churned out RPMs to press a lead. Back to the fort, we’d ride in the south and east wall moats and into a tunnel in the wall which lead into the center fort parade ground where some tight turns in the center led to a couple tough climbs which most riders actually had to run up. A final turn and over the barriers, up&down a hill and through the chute to start all over again.
Joni and I drove over at 7am, reaching the fort at about 930 to get in line to pick up registration and paperwork. The registration was swamped so they moved the C race back from 1030 to 1045.
There were 81 “C” racers- quite a crowd! The C race was not divided by age or categories- just 81 racers all competing against each other- and that didn’t count the women who were also out there as their own group. Founders-Alger-Racing teammate Scott Thenikl was also there for the C race. The crowd took off, turned out of the fort and made that hard right turn into the moat. After the next turn in the moat a rider went down and the crowd split around him and I surged around a couple riders after we passed the downed racer. I rode pretty hard and the C race ended up being only three laps for just over seven miles in that 30-35 minute event. I saw quite a few racers behind me during the last couple laps. I finally finished and looked at the clock as I crossed the finish line at 32 minutes and some seconds. Scott came across the finish line a couple minutes later. I ended up at 27th of the 81 racers with many of them at the bottom counted as “lapped” and thus down a lap in the results. Scott was 30th of the 81 C racers.
There was a fifteen minute or so break and the B races started lining up. This also looked to be quite a crowd. Results showed it to be 65 racers. This B race was not divided by age or USAC category- so I was racing USAC categories of 2, 3, and 4. This was the race I figured I’d be really out-classed. Turns out I held my own. The race ended up being 5 laps which I completed in just over 55 minutes. I rode as hard as I could and got passed at one point by speedster Mackenzie Woodring of the Bissell team, one of west Michigan’s fastest women racers. The was on a mountain bike. She was shouting out encouragement to a woman Fusion team rider and I tried to hang in there with them on a paceline but they all pulled away from me before we hit the fort’s south moat.
So I focused on the nearest male rider and tried to close the gap over the course of the next lap. I did eventually pass the nearest one and over the course of lap four and five increased my lead by a huge seven minutes (which surprised me). I crossed the finish as the announcer indicated I was the last “**official” finisher to garner a 43rd place of the 65 racers in the B race. (**Results posted later, though, indicated one more “official” finisher after me- he finished at 62 minutes – the seven minute gap.
All in all a successful race- I went there with the modest goal to do decent in the C event and to try to hold of getting lapped in the B race and exceeded both goals fairly well!.
Joni and I drove around downtown Detroit for a little while as the A racers were on their last lap before deciding to eat dinner at one of the race’s sponsors- Los Galanes in Mexican Town. The food was really good. Joni had a chicken mole’ dinner and I was able to order a vegetarian stir-fry cactus dish. ( I like fried cactus too ).
The fort is a completely under-utilized property! If it could be really utilized it could be Detroit-area “Mackinac Island” with recreational activities too! Joni wandered the fort and the old structures taking, taking photos as I raced. We will definitely return next year.