Sunday: back in PA! Mike and I decided to combine some solid local cyclocross racing with family fun on a gorgeous, sunny, warm November day. After his decisive win the day before, Mike decided to take the day off; I wanted to race, so we headed down to the Spring Mount Cyclocross race presented by Philadelphia Ciclismo and sponsored by Cadence Performance Cycling and Multisport and VeloEuropa Imports/Cyfac. It was a deceptively challenging course through the scenic Upper Salford Park not far from Philadelphia. Racers flew through tight turns, ran the deep sand, leapt over the stream (twice per lap!) and the barriers, and navigated slick, deep muddy sections. There were few places to catch your breath on this course, and the unexpected mud drained your power. Fellow Emmaus, PA racer Christine Fennessy (South Mountain Cycles and Coffee Bar) led out the Women’s Open race, with me on her wheel. We traded time at the front on the first lap until I gradually pulled away and continued to a solo win; Christine finished second and Philadelphia racer Lisa Most (Engin Cycles) came in third. Mike’s encouragement kept me pedaling hard all the way through.
The race drew both experienced racers and plenty of beginners out giving ‘cross a try at a nearby race – one of the great things about having a strong grassroots cycling scene. The event was well-organized and the cheering was intense, so I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time. With such beautiful weather, we were lucky to have some non-racing spectators, too: folks who’d come out to stroll through the park, walk the dog, or play with the kids at the playground and were then drawn to the crazy spectacle of a cyclocross race.
After my race was over, our son Isaac and I headed over to the playground where he hit all the one-year-old favorites: swings, sandbox and climb-on statues. I ended up chatting with a local woman out walking her dog who started asking me about the race when she realized I’d just finished riding. She’d never heard of cyclocross but ended up sticking around to watch the racers ride things she didn’t think you could on a bicycle. We found common ground talking about how riding a bike can be a great way for regular people with jobs and families to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors with friends.