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Insanely strong winds set the stage at this year’s West Chester Cyclocross Classic #2, the second of two races organized by the folks at West Chester CX. Despite the wind, the weather was amicable, yielding swaths of blue skies and no precipitation. A strong showing of riders kept competition lively, and the course–new this year–was a real test of late-season fitness and aerobic capacity.
New Course at The Phelps School
This year’s WCCC #2 took place on the campus of The Phelps School in Malvern, PA, a new venue for the franchise. Starting near the top of a sports field, the course–designed by CX veteran Bob Reuther–made its first descent in flowy, ‘Angry-Bob’-fashion, utilizing ‘pumpy’ corners and well-timed switch-backs. The track made an immediate turn back up the slope, and riders were met with their first major skill test of the day: a series of rather steep hills. These hills, while not considerably long, were steep enough to cause quite a few riders to dismount mid-climb, and even the more skilled racers were forced to ride smart.
The single set of barriers were setup in a way which was quite ‘bunny-hoppable’, and marked the transition from the first major climb to the second major descent. After meandering around a number of small buildings and over the course’s only major pavement section, the tape descended, leading riders across a high-speed, 30-yard section of mud.
More switch-backs, up the slope, down the slope, and up once more, this time confronting that long, muddy patch along the way. The mud became increasingly tacky and rideable as the day progressed, but early racers had quite a difficult time remaining clipped-in. This section was arguably the day’s chief challenge, and was on riders’ minds throughout the race.
The finishing stretches were well thought-out, giving a few brief sections of respite before the final sprint, which saw a small out-of-the-saddle kicker less than 100m before the line.
Although the wind proved stifling for many spectators, good music and announcing kept things lively. Foolish Waffles showed up with their food truck, and there definitely wasn’t any alcohol on the scene to keep folks warm (wink). The registration / podium / finish area was rather disorganized and crowded, but the course itself was highly walkable, which made spectating very accessible.
Aside from a few ‘hiccups’, the race was successful. Racer opinion on the course was divided, but ultimately those with good climbing legs came out on top.
This last weekend marks the last of up to 6 weekends of back-to-back cyclocross racing. With a few exceptions, most riders will enjoy a much desired off-week after Thanksgiving. The next event on the regional cyclocross calendar is Rivertown Cross, just outside of Lancaster, PA. That race takes place on Saturday, December 2, and will leave just one more opportunity to gain PACX points before the end of the season.
Plenty to Talk About
For more info and media specific to each of the day’s races, scroll below! Our goal is to grow our ‘coverage’ for each race, and to bring more high quality content every weekend to showcase all of our region’s amazing racers and promoters! Enjoy!