The harsh weather was a factor in the Va Du Mar cyclocross race in Boiling Springs, South Carolina. The evening before had seen the temperature drop below freezing with rain showers. One racer described the 3.4 kilometer course as riding in peanut butter. This created a rutted course that made picking a good line through the turns all the more important. The turns had become slick with mud which quickly coagulated on the racers’ bikes. If a racer hits a rut the wrong way it could lead to a puncture or crash. These types of conditions test the resolve of the riders.
On the day of the race the rain had stopped but the temperature had only just nosed over 40 degrees and the wind had picked up.
The men’s race as expected started with a bang. Newly signed Bissell Pro Cycling Team rider Andy Baker exploded off the front and got a gap. Chasing behind was the reining South Carolina state cyclocross champion Noah Metzler (Globalbike).
For several laps Baker was riding at the front to get the best lines through the technical sections of the course.
“I’ve never raced cross in the mud before so I didn’t know my limits,” said Baker.
While Baker had the power and strength of years spent racing on the road, Metzler has the technical expertise. On one uphill section of the course Baker was forced to dismount and run to the top. Metzler was able to ride the section and gain time. It was at this portion of the course that the Globalbike rider was able to turn the screw a little harder on the rest of the field.
With just two laps remaining it was obvious that the winner was either going to be Baker or Metzler. On the long straight away section Baker attacked trying to use his strength to separate himself from the South Carolina state champion. However the Globalbike rider gritted his teeth and stuck to Baker’s rear wheel.
“Andy looked back and saw me there,” said Metzler “and I think that demoralized him.”
Metzler counter-attacked and got the gap that would grow to over 15 seconds by the time he crossed the finish line.
“It was a classic ‘cross race,” said the day’s winner. Baker finished in second place.
Metzler is going to continue his cyclocross season and compete in the UCI Kingsport event this January. For Baker, his main focus is the upcoming road season and is fitting cyclocross races into his schedule when it works for him.