In what can seen as a rise in the popularity of this fall/winter sport, over 40 riders participated in Saturday’s Greenville cyclocross race. Promoted by the Greenville Spinners the course was cut into the side of the abandoned golf course driving range. The grassy loop included two sand pits, barriers and a steep incline that only the fittest could ride without having to dismount and run. The final push to the finish line was a steep asphalt pitch followed by 200 meters of flat road. The weather conditions were sunny with the temperature in the low 70s. A new rule for 2010 allows riders to have a spare water bottle in the pit when the temperature is over 68 degrees and a few riders took advantage of that regulation.
The A group racers were going to be on the course for 60 minutes. The top contenders separated themselves from the group. Will Black (Inland Construction) and Eric Muehl (Industry Nine Factory) got the gap and powered away. Both Black and Muehl have a reputation as strong riders and the peloton knew it. The two leaders exchanged positions but neither getting much of an advantage over the other. About halfway through the race Muehl came into the pit, quickly swapped bikes and slotted in behind Black. A quick inspection of the disregarded bike revealed that the rear derailleur was damaged. That seemed to be the one reoccurring mechanical incident – rear derailleurs almost ripped off the hanger tab.
While the top two had a gap the battle for the other podium spot was raging. Noah Metzler (Globalbike) picked his way through race traffic determined to latch onto the duo. Metzler has been a regular fixture at the Wednesday night Greenville ‘cross practice races and it showed – he looked smooth and in control as he powered around the corners.
With 15 minutes remaining Black got the necessary gap on Muehl and kept the power going. Behind Muehl was Metzler pounding up the steep incline trying to claw back time.
However with one lap remaining it was evident barring a mechanical disaster that the top three were going to remain Black, Muehl and Metzler. As Black rolled across the line he pumped his fist in victory. Sunday the Inland Construction rider is racing again in Asheville. Will he recover in time to battle it out again against riders almost half his age? Knowing Black’s reputation he is sure to bounce back and be race ready again.
As the riders crossed the finish line each looked like they had left everything on the course – a marker of an excellent course design. The post-race hacking could be heard in the parking lot as the riders loaded their bikes back onto their cars.
Sunday the same loop is used again so the competitive edge might fall to the rider who recovered quickly but also now knows which sections of the course are quicker.
1. Will Black (Inland Constuction)
2. Eric Muehl (Industry Nine Factory)
3. Noah Metzler (Globalbike p/b Catoma)
4. Paul Webb (Unattached)
5. Matthew Willing (Mars Hill College)