I didn’t know quite what to expect of the Staten Island Cyclocross. It turns out the least understood burough wasn’t exactly the rest of the city’s dumping zone, and Wu Tang Clan was nowhere to be seen in the place called Shaolin. In fact, the race venue was gorgeous—Wolfes Pond Park is right on the water, a smaller, more suburban version of Gloucester’s iconic cyclocross stronghold Stage Fort Park. And like Stage Fort, war history is celebrated at Wolfes Pond: the park is home to a memorial for men lost in The Battle of the Bulge. Without that American victory, there would probably be no modern Belgium. And without modern Belgium, there would be no ‘cross.
I was most excited to be racing in a new setting with a strong scene. The course was dry, the sun was warm, and we raced at 1pm instead of, say, 4pm, so I knew there’s be some post-race waffles and coffee leftover…for once. On the other hand, the red-eye flight from the day before followed by my personal one-day record for beer and meat consumption was not totally in harmony with the goal of victory. Of course, my habit is to be ready to race, no matter what, where, or when and without excuses—it’s what qualifies me as a professional, I guess.
And I needed to be a bit pro because there was competition. The Swiss kid Valentin Scherz might’ve been at the USGPs in Fort Collins, but he instead chose to defend his Wu Tang title. After an acceptable start I moved to 4th wheel in the course’s fast grass chicanes and, by the end of the beach run, stayed there to the course’s next feature, a truly tricky downhill dismount followed by a short run-up. At the top of the run-up, there was a choice to be made: remount and attempt to ride the technical, off-camber traverse followed by a very steep and lose on-the-bike climb, or run like an idiot. Scherz and another had gapped 3rd wheel, and then that rider made a mistake, trying to remount and ride at the top of the run-up. The choice was made for me: I ran like an idiot through the entire section and quickly got across to the leaders. Stupider like a fox, I guess. Now there were three.