Providence, Rhode Island hosts one of the largest and most renowned cyclocross festivals in the country. Located in the heart of Roger Williams Park, the venue consists of rolling green grass and vibrant deciduous trees. The 420 acre park features several lakes, historic monuments, a zoo, botanical gardens and of course a pristine cyclocross track. We’re not talking your average course with a couple janky barriers and a pit. This manicured course was built by some of the best in the biz. They incorporated manmade staircases, a flyover, tabletop jump (my favorite), and barriers; all of which intertwined the massive old growth sycamores and maples. The crowds were in abundance, somewhere in the neighborhood of eight thousand people was the number I heard from Saturday’s event. The expo was awesome, our booth (Feedback Sports) was in a prime location, right next to the course with close proximity to all the food vendors. After all, this was a “work” trip and I was fortunate enough to join in on the fun. Sammy, our Eastern Sales Representative flew out the week prior to the event to travel with our outside rep, Derek. On Thursday, Doug (the owner) and Greg (teammate) flew into Providence. It was sure to be a weekend to remember.
On Friday we hung out at the venue setting up our expo, catching up with industry friends, and checking out the course. Huge thanks to WD-40 Bike for transporting our Feedback tent and my bike all the way from Colorado. There was a race Friday evening that a few of our teammates competed in while Doug and I tried to stay warm and dry. A good Italian dinner and some rest was in order because Saturday and Sunday were the big UCI races.
Since I was not racing until late in the afternoon both days, I was lucky enough to skip out on the 5:45 wake up call to set up the expo… Sammy and Griggs stepped up and worked some long days so that I could try to conserve some energy for the elite race smackdown. I ran into Mark and Katie Compton at breakfast and they were nice enough to offer me a ride to the venue at 10am. I have to say, it felt good to roll into the Providence Cyclocross Festival with one of the best cyclocross athletes in the world. They were super nice and we joked about the weather and shared typical disc brake banter. It was no surprise to me that Katie still prefers her cantilever bike… Doug does too! Not me, that’s for sure! I love my disc brakes. They modulate so well that you can charge into corners full speed and scrub your speed without skidding. They also let my hands relax more and relieve the white knuckle effect that cantilevers often cause. I would recommend racing/riding a disc bike before you write it off!
I manned the Feedback booth and spent both days chatting with end users and dealers alike. There was an overwhelming gratitude for our presence on the East coast since we usually stick around the Rocky Mountains. Sammy worked the pits while Doug, Greg, Lee and Derek raced in a field of 200+ dudes. It was a spectacle to watch and thankfully they all had successful races! A few hours later it was time to kit up and take some practice laps to dial in my tire pressure and get comfortable on the course. It felt good, the bike (Foundry Harrow), the tires (Clement PDX at 26psi -ish), even the legs felt good! The only thing bugging me was my lack of UCI points meant that I was going to start in the back of a stacked field of 82 pros. I was motivated to ride hard the whole race and try to continuously move up. That said, I was happy with 29th.
On Sunday there was some precipitation that changed up the course conditions quite a bit. The corners were greasy and the grass was slick… even the astro turf covering the flyover was slippery. Again, showing up to the venue with Katie Compton and talking with her about the conditions – we were both happy to see some mud and thought it would cater to our advantage! Even though I moved up 50 spots yesterday, my call up was still back row (74th). The UCI point system is severely flawed in my opinion. Since it was a C2 UCI race it meant they only paid top 25 instead of top 30 in Saturday’s C1… so there was a little extra motivation… $$. I felt smooth and confident on the course and was picking off 5 or 10 guys per lap which also felt really good. With 2 laps to go I had the top 20 insight, sitting in 21st (at my limit). Sammy, who was in the pits supporting me, was shouting out my place each lap which was helpful to know where I was at – otherwise I would have no idea. I really started to feel it on the last lap – giving up on the top twenty – I was more concerned with maintaining my position. I blew up hard and had nothing left in the tank on the last lap. 3 guys passed me and I hung on for 24th. Not super happy with a weak final lap, but no complaints because I rode a strong race and burned all of my matches.
The Providence Cyclocross Festival is a world class event that I would highly recommend to everyone. It was a great weekend packed with many great memories with great friends and coworkers.
Huge thanks to my amazing sponsors; Feedback Sports: for making the best damn work stands in the industry, Foundry Cycles: for making the best bikes in the biz, Shimano: for the smoothest shifting drivetrain, and Fizik: for the comfy saddles and shoes… and thank YOU for reading this.
If you have any questions please post them in the comments or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Work Hard. Love Life. Ride a Foundry.