Posted by Maietta Factory Racer David Chiu
Going into this race weekend I sort of knew what to expect, I’ve been to the Mercer Cup in Trenton, NJ twice before, it has always been a mud fest and despite early long range weather forecasts of dry and sunny, Hurricane Ida made her way up the east coast and squashed all hope of running my beloved Grifo XS tubular tires with file treads.
Day 1 – It was forecasted to rain for most of Saturday, and luckily we were able to race in just the drizzle. The course was on a new part of the park and was completely saturated, during the early morning pre-rides the course was still mostly intact but there were already sections where the combined depth of my 32mm Grifo tire and 46mm carbon rim would be completely submerged in thick peanutbuttery mud. Little did I know just how much the course would change by the time I got to race it. The course had a nice long start/finish paved stretch that went directly into a soaked sandy left towards the pit, this would be the location of the highlight of my races this weekend, I got a good spot in the starting grid and grabbed 2nd in the hole shot, I held on to this top placing through the first few turns, and off camber sections around some trees, was even still in the top 10 going by the pit for the first time. But it was all downhill after that, the parachute opened, and opened big. While the course remained entirely ridable, any section that I had hoped to keep my speed up in had transformed into this uniform muck bog, an unruley mess of grass, mud, fresh-cut grass clumps, mud, and more mud. I soon lost contact with all and/or any groups and proceeded to finish the rest of the race a defeated individual. Finishing lead lap, on a bike about twice as heavy as it started.
Day 2 – The weather forecast for Sunday looked good 70s and sunny, unfortunately for me, I was racing early in the morning and the rain didn’t end until sometime late Saturday night. So while the course was drying, the conditions were actually worse than Saturday. In this semi-dry-but-mostly-wet state, the mud was even thicker, stickier, and soul crushing. I did well in the hole shot once again, and made it cleanly through the early scrum, pushed hard to try to defend any sort of spot I had, but it wasn’t to be. The gentleman’s slide had started, and by the end of the first lap, my bike was back to last lap weight and mud capacity of the previous day.
Although slightly dissapointing, as clearly racing in the mud is not my strong suit, the trip was not without it’s highlights:
Malaga Spanish Restaurant in Trenton, NJ – this was the second time I’ve been here this year, the first time was during the summer for the Giro di Jersey stage race; absoutely fantastic paella.
Vincent’s Pizza in Trenton, NJ – minutes from the race venue; the people I had been traveling with had been talking about this place all weekend for it’s Zeppole, the perfect post-mudfest snack, make sure you get enough to share.
Travel tip: sneak up the 206 through Princeton University (don’t forget the coffee) and hop on 287 which will shoot you straight across the Tappanzee bridge in no time. Much faster than messing around with Rt 1, 95, the Garden State Parkway, or the GW.