Monday, November 19, 2007

BRC/Land Rover Shedd Park CX in Lowell

Out of 5

Here, there, and everywhere. Seems to be enough parking, but all over the place. Up top, on the bottom, and various other locations. Not bad, but not as convenient as other places. Hopefully the road gets done in time for the race next year so you don't need a Land Rover to navigate through the pot holes.

Minor grumblings among the attendees when at 7:30 things were not in swing yet. I was in the Masters 35+ so I just walked up. But, the lines for the Cat 4 were looong. And last year we got Slick Willy Lube at registration. Where was the Slick Willy Lube?

UPDATE: One of the RDs emailed me about the challenges of getting over 70 men going for the first race. Point taken! It is interesting to see how the first race of the day dwarfs many of the later races. While the Cat 4s typically go off first, does it make sense to put them second given their large size? Of course, getting 70+ people off the course and hopefully partially out of the parking lot eases potential parking issues. As others have pointed out, having 70+ people wait for their race creates a crowd to watch the other races. Something to ponder.

And I am told that Slick Willy Lube was not a title sponsor this year. Bummer. Make sure to pick up your Slick Willy Lube elsewhere.

Things seemed to be under control in the urination and defecation department. One PoJ in the lower parking lot. Don't know if there were any up top. Plus indoor bathrooms, which is always a plus. No woods, though. Limits your options in a pinch.

This was the star of the show. Major renovations to the park meant that the course from last year could not be repeated on the top section. The changes were pretty nice. The long ride up was removed for an off camber downhill into a 90 degree turn steep uphill. Some rode and some ran. This is what we like to see: decisions being made in the race regarding what to do. The construction up top meant there was a loose bumpy section into last year's corkscrew switchbacks. Plenty of speed and risks to be taken here.

The track was interesting as well. As Gewilli pointed out in his blog, it was not mud in the proper CX sense in that it was deep and traction wasn't a problem. But, it was slippery and wet and, well, muddy. Decisions here regarding what line to take as well. I like races where you have different line options and aren't locked into the same thing all the way around.

Plus, extra special bonus points for cleaning the course before the race. On my pre-warmup walk around the course, you could see little bits of glass. Talking to the race organizers, they said that they had to take away a lot of glass the day before. So, while we can tear up a course, we also perform a valuable public service!

One minor issue with the relatively quick 180 degree turn up a hill and around a tree at the start of the race. Major carnage. Don't know how you get around this other than moving the start even further back on the track to give some more time for things to spread out a little more.

No real problems in the 35+ race, but discussions with the Cat 4 guys indicates a general lack of awareness regarding where the start was actually going to be. That's a bit of a problem. No call ups or anything: Just Show and Go. We were lined up about 20 across the front that funneled into a narrow track section. Not too bad. But, please have some kind of indication regarding where the start is going to be so that people know well ahead of time. Maybe a sign that says "Start".

Two pits: one up top and one at the bottom. Extra special bonus points for the guys from Wheelworks for having a supported pit. But, the other pit is a bit out of the way for everyone that is not parked up top. Decision time: where do you put your tires? Do you feel lucky, punk?

I didn't see any. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Sifr. Nuthn. There was a liquor store across the street, but they didn't open till 12:00.

Minus points for the MRC crew for not coordinating who was going to bring the recovery beverages. The MRC conversation: "I thought you were going to bring it." "I brought it last time." "What about so-and-so?" "He didn't bring anything either." "Who brought drinks?" Apparently no one.

UPDATE: Add for having free pizza and chili that I missed because I had to get home. Anytime anything is free, especially food, extra special bonus points. Next time I'll bring the kids to have fun at that awesome playground.


No matter the drawbacks, it was a fun day. A near-by venue and a challenging course with a little of everything. Good times and good people. Always a high point on the cross calendar. A lot of hard work goes into putting these things on, so kudos to the BRC crew for doing a nice job!

The musical selection was a little suspect through. Hillbilly into Alternative into International music. The mix from hell.

UPDATE: One things I should add is whether a course is family friendly. I would say this course is family friendly given the playground that is there. The kids can have fun pretty much in the middle of the course. That, and the proximity to Boston, makes it a nice choice to bring the kiddies.


gewilli said...

waffling like a presidential candidate...

or is that qualifying your statements...

there is certainly something to having the biggest field run mid-day or last (spectator wise)...

GCDavid said...

Yes. Always the diplomat.

I figure anyone that is out there at 6:00am pounding stakes and running tape deserve the benefit of the doubt.