Hi, this is Brooke and I'm one of the guest riders this season. I'm from Maine and still have family there so each October we make a point to race Downeast CX in New Gloucester, ME and Casco Bay CX in Portland, ME. Downeast CX used to be a UCI race (a bit smaller now as a local race) and is held at Pinelands Farms which is a 5,000 acre working farm with a year round recreation trail network used for mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and fat biking (just to name a few :) ). The race venue traverses a disc golf course and includes quite a bit of elevation change through double track trails and a run up. Last year the race felt straight out of Belgium, with lots of climbing and fast descending in heavy mud and rain.
Photos by Dan Cariolo, Sean Curran
This year was dry and the course was a bit longer. Since it's a smaller race all the women race at the same time slot. I was the last one in my field to not get lapped by the leader of the 1/2/3 race, which on such a hilly course made me excited (and very tired for Casco Bay the following day!). With the warm weather spilling into New England Fall this year, my Sanremo skinsuit helped me avoid overheating once again this season. This race is one I always remember for many firsts. Last year it was the first time I ever led a race (only lasted about 1 lap, but thrilling!), crashed which led to my first run to the pit and this year it was my first podium! Also this year my 4 year old niece entered her first bike race. It was really fun to finish mine and make my way to the kids course to cheer her on as she finished her two laps on the Strider we got her a couple years ago.
On Sunday, we made our way to Portland for Casco Bay CX which is held at the Eastern Promenade Park and features amazing views of the bay. I've always had trouble staying hydrated, and this year I’ve been starting to get it figured out. After yesterday’s hot race, some nuun with electrolytes helped me get refueled, and sipping on more the morning leading up to the second race (with some +caffeine just before) I was able to stay on top of it. My friend and teammate, Darcey, came up from Boston for this race too! We were able to preride and inspect the course which made me thrilled - this was the first year I was able to confidently ride what used to be a run up for me (I'm a long ways off from riding this beast!).
The course is fun and has more technical features than many races (which us mountain bikers like). Off the pavement start/ finish straight you head into a tricky down hill corner to single track through the woods. After some stairs and a loose chute you head into the run up, turn onto grass leading you around a community garden, traverse a steep dirt off-camber, continue through some long grass sections and wouldn't be complete without a set of barriers near the finish. This course uses the area it has really well and has a bit of something for everyone (and at least one part each person won't find suits them- for me the long grass section!). My niece entered the kids race (after enjoying yesterday’s so much) and after asked me to play follow the leader on bikes with her! It's a nice feeling to get a young girl already liking bikes and having fun on them!