Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunday Suds: Granogue Cross Edition

What's that you say? Sunday Suds on Tuesday? Well, there's a first time for everything.

I spent the entire day in the great outdoors on Sunday, checking out the second day of competition at Granogue Cross 2010. As at any good cyclocross race there was plenty of time for beer, just no time to write about it. So here's my usual Sunday report, two days late but with all kinds of fun photos to help make up for the wait.

Granogue Cross is held on a private estate, owned by the Dupont family, in the countryside of northwestern Delaware. To my knowledge, the property is opened to the public only twice per year: once for a cyclocross race and once for a mountain bike race. The tower that dominates the high point of the property has become the de facto symbol for the annual CX event.

There's nothing de facto when it comes to beer's importance to cyclocross culture, though. Beer is unquestionably the official beverage of the sport. I'm talking worldwide, not just here in the craft brewing mecca of the Delaware and Brandywine Valleys. Spectators and racers alike could be found roaming the course with brews in hand throughout the day, though I suspect the majority of the racers waited until after their respective events before partaking.

As is so often the case at local cycling events, Victory Brewing Company was on hand to pour pints and dish out savory sustenance to the hungry and thirsty among the crowd. On top of being one of the sponsors of the Granogue event, Victory has been involved in club road racing throughout the Philadelphia area for many years. Their support of the local racing community is always appreciated.

My preferred draught for the day was Victory Prima Pils. It's one of my favorite American takes on the classic Bohemian pilsner style, perhaps just a touch hoppier than its usual Czech and German cousins. Between the plastic cups and the mobile pouring unit, the pints weren't perfect on this day but they still went down easy, especially paired, in good Oktoberfest spirit, with a grilled brat topped with caramelized onions and a squirt of French's.

Now that I've made myself hungry and thirsty (again), here's a little taste of Sunday's action. My point-and-shoot isn't the greatest when it comes to capturing high speed action but I hope you'll manage to muddle through just a few of my favorite pics from the day.

I worked the pits — the only place on the course where beer was not allowed — for a friend who was racing in the Elite Masters class. That's his spare mount, the Primus Mootry, second in from the front. On a muddy day, the pits would have been a scene of constant chaos. On Sunday, though, the course had all but completely dried out, thanks to steady sun and even steadier wind, after last week's rain storms. Only a few riders pulled in to switch bikes after suffering mechanicals on the course.

Laura Van Gilder — the Power Puff from Pocono Pines, as christened by race announcer Richard Fries — leading the Elite Women's field on the switchback run-up coming out of one of the forested portions of the course. Laura took the top spot on the podium on both Saturday and Sunday.

Swiss espoirs racer Anthony Grand (at right), riding for the Cyfac-Champion System Racing Team, was one of the few competitors who chose to ride that same hill. Not an easy task under any circumstances, even tougher in a crowd. Anthony went on to finish 11th in the Elite Men's event.

Just a little further back in the field, Cary Fridrich (at left, 22nd overall) dug in his cleats on the course's other main climb while Stephen Pierce (24th) put on a pretty fine display of the flying, downhill remount.

The real clinic was being put on at the front of the race, though, where another Swiss rider, Valentin Scherz (at right, with bike shouldered) and Jesse Anthony fought out the front positions throughout the hour long event. Scherz managed to build up a fifteen second advantage going into the last three laps but Anthony put in an impressive last-lap surge to close the gap, sit on Valentin's wheel for a few moments of recovery, and then take the sprint finish by a mere half-wheel margin. Like Van Gilder, Anthony made it a double-V for the weekend.

Vegan, Van Dessel rider, Victory drinker, post-punk, ink collector and Cycle-Smart founder Adam Myerson (4th), recovering in style. I told you beer was everywhere.


Samantha Dugan said...

Now I'm hungry and thirsty too...to bad I can't (ducking and blushing) ride a bike.

David McDuff said...

Hey Sam!
Can't as in choose not to or can't as in don't know how to? If the former, wtf? If the latter, come on out -- we can take a brewery tour, hit the brewpub and then I'll teach you how to ride. No flying, downhill remounts required.

Samantha Dugan said...

As in I never learned how to, long story...mean brother, took my bike apart blah blah blah. My beloved importer friend Michael Sullivan, also and avid cyclist keeps saying he is going to teach me but now at almost 40...I'm afraid I might break my ass!

David McDuff said...

Mean brothers suck. I know, I was one -- only part-time though, I was okay (I think) at least part of the time.

Asses, even 40-year-old asses, are very hard to break. Just find a flat, grassy field, drink a beer to alleviate the fear, then jump on. Pedal! That's the trick. Pedal and the rest comes easy. You can figure out how to coast and turn and stop and all that good stuff later.

TWG said...

In LA, definitely find a field to learn in.

David McDuff said...

Good point, Tom, though there's gotta be a flat parcel of grass somewhere in LA. Honestly, pavement is easier to learn on as there's far less rolling resistance; it just hurts a little worse if you happen to tip over.

TWG said...

2011 TDF route announced check out Jim Budd's blog.

Never thought of a cyclocross finishing in a sprint, mostly because I presume the better the surface the closer the race.

David McDuff said...

Yep, I know. Jim's been horning in on my territory ;-) As usual, I'm running a day or two behind with my postings; you should expect something from me re: Le Tour in the next day or two.

CX races do come down to close sprints somewhat regularly, but usually only between two or, at most, three riders. You shouldn't ever see the kind of mass sprints that are commonplace on the road and criterium racing circuits. The third place rider in Sunday's race was almost two minutes back....

Joe Manekin said...

David -

Cyclocross culture - I like what I see! Have never been to a race but I suspect that will change in 2011. Fun post, I enjoyed it. Victory Pils is definitely in the after work drawer counting beer rotation. Perfect description, by the way. But hey, what's up with the French's?


I rode a kid dirt bike until I was about 8. At that age I crashed and got 8 stitches on the back of my head, and though it was not a particularly painful experience, I still focused on other sports to play. Never used the bike as transport in my car dependent NW Baltimore suburbs.

Fast forward about 20 years. I wanted a bike to ride around in SF, bought a beater 10 speed (not only my first road bike, but my first bike with hand brakes, it had been a while) and re-learned how to ride it. You know what they say about riding a bicycle? In my case, it sort of wasn't true. I did have to re-teach myself. Despite one incident of being "doored" while rushing to work, I still love my bike as an occasional commuting option, around town transport of choice, and when time allows, outdoor workout.

You are depriving yourself by not learning to ride. You can do it! Next time I see Michael (he sells me wine) I will remind him that he still needs to teach you. If that fails, then McDuff and I have got you covered.

David McDuff said...

I think you'd dig the CX scene. Check out the site for the Bay Area Super Prestige Series. You just missed a race in Oakland but there's one coming up in Golden Gate Park on 11/28.

Thanks for sharing your cycling history. As for the French's, well, let's just say it was that, ketchup or nothing. I like mustard on my brat (especially when served sandwich-style), even if it has to be the screaming yellow kind.

You've got us lining up! There's no time like the present.

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