Monday, August 14, 2006

'Cross Under the Lights

Friday night marked the, rather early, kick-off to the Rutgers Cycling cyclocross season at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. As part of the NJ State Fair, this race attracted many spectators and drew a large and competitive field from around the Northeast.

After braving Friday night traffic heading north, the Rutgers crew arrived with just enough time to get on the course before the opening race, an individual time trial on the course. The course was short (approx. 2 min laps) and technically challenging with berms, a tight, banked corner, two set of barriers, and "Denali" a short, steep peak in the middle of the lap that claimed many a rider.

The women's race kicked off the mass start racing for the evening, and Brandi jumped feet first into her first cyclocross race. The women's field was stacked with elite riders, many of whom have appeared previously on the podium in their age group at cyclocross nationals. Brandi, however, put in a brilliant ride, riding in 6th until a crash took her back to 9th place. This is Brandi's best racing result in her quite short career, and she shows much promise for the cyclocross season when it begins in earnest in October.

In the sub-elite race, Rutgers fielded an impressive team: Ted, Jay, Mark, Don, and Alessandro. A crash in the banked turn at the start took out both Mark and Jay, but they fought back to get in contact with the main bunch. With 3 laps to go, it looked like a Wednesday night 'cross session, with Alessandro, Mark, and Craig from the Hermes riding together as a group. With two to go, Alessandro got a gap on Denali that Mark could not close. Alessandro rolled in as the highest placed RU rider with Mark and Craig finishing shortly behind him. Results, unfortunately, have been unavailable, but our best guesses put Alessandro and Mark in the 20s in a field of over 50 riders.

Thus ends the exposition cyclocross action for RU. The Mid-Atlantic and NJ State Cup cyclocross races kick off in October. Look for Rutgers to be a force throughout the season. Rutgers will also be fielding races for the 24 Hours of Allamuchy in September and the collegiate mountain bike series beginning in September.

Next weekend, some of our mountain bike crew heads to Delaware for the Mid-Atlantic Super Series race at Iron Hill. Look for more exciting race reports.

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