Posted by Maietta Factory Racer David Chiu
The Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup in Southampton, NY always seems to have a lower turnout than other races in the Mid Atlantic, not sure why, the course is much more fun and interesting than races like the Mercer Cup with a good mix of challenging features as well as some long straight aways, and it’s really not that far away from New York City or New England.
My weekend started with a mad dash for the Cross Sound Ferry departing from New London, CT. It was 5:30pm on the Friday before Thanksgiving and I’m in Cambridge, MA needing to make an 8pm ferry… the trip would normally take just under 2hrs without traffic, and Google Maps was predicting 3hrs in traffic… this was going to be tight. And it was, practically had to jump the ramp to get on the ferry in time. Everyone else was smart and took earlier ferries (1pm thru 7pm). There was only one other cyclist on the ferry with us heading out there. Anyway, 1.5hrs later (I like to call this yachting) we were on the Hamptons. Then it was a shuffle to see how many bikes and bike racers we could cram into a hotel room, if you look carefully enough you can see the Maietta is in there…
Day 1 – the weather was great (compared to last week) Cool in the 50s (?) the ground was a bit damp from the morning dew and I was contemplating on using my favoriate tread pattern, but after a quick pre-ride on the course, I stuck with my all-round Grifo 32s, the ground wasn’t getting any dryer as the prelaps went on and there were plenty of off-camber sections where I needed those extra knobs to make up for my lack of off-road handling abilities. The start was on a long stretch of pavement and had a decently tight chicane that funneled you on to the course, I lined up in the middle of the field (maybe 4th row?) after all the other guys who had MAC series points (gotta remember to not skip Granogue and Wissahickon next year), I failed to get the hole shot (from the 4th row) and we were moving quick, it felt like we started on a 1/4 mile of pavement and we were funneled right into the hill, a hill that we would traverse multiple times per lap in our 45min race. I let a small gap open infront of me a bit to give me some room to negotiate the inevitable clustering caused by riders who were over geared and stalling out, after grabbing a few places we moved up into a sandy section and made a B line for a fast off camber downhill that had a nice arcing bend to it, my white-whale if you will, as last year I came into this too hot and with too much confidence and crashed my self out for the weekend.
At the bottom of the white whale we zig-zagged across the hill a little more before we hit some flat land which lead us to a natural choke point of the course, a tall loose dirt mound that would be easily ridable if you were alone or in a small group, but once there’s traffic, you’re walking. Of course at this point I was still in traffic so as the front of the race road away for good, I was off my bike, walking, and takeing the opportunity to catch my breath a bit. As after this mound it was a lots of fast and flat till we hit some single track on the other side of the venue. By this point most groups had been sorted out, I was with 4 others I sat in the draft as we headed towards the single track, and once we hit it, I decided these guys wern’t going fast enough, and managed to take clean lines and make my way to the front of the group, then off the front of the group (all in the single track section – which is pretty amazing if you’ve ever been mountain biking with me). Anyway, rode hard, use my brakes too much in the white whale, ended up finishing 29th, did what felt like 1000ft of climbing. The Maietta rode fantastically on the hills, the short and snappy chain stays did not dissapoint when the terrain pointed up hill.
Day 2 – the course on Sunday was essentially the same as Saturday with a few sections re-routed, and amazing it actually felt like more climbing than the first day. The instead of descending the white whale we now went up it, and there was a new entrance to the single track, there was some wood log-steps that had a really dirty entrance with ruts that had the habit of knocking your pedals and cranks if you took the obvious line into the section, as well as barriers at the bottom of a twisty descent, which made them extra challenging.
The 2nd direction of the dirt hill that was easily ridable the day before was now steeper and loser in this direction, and we hit it even earlier in the race than before, so without a doubt, outside the top 10, we were definitly walking it. Interestingly, I found that the way to get over it was to be slightly over geared so as you started to stall out you wouldn’t spin your tires and slide down the fall line and off course. Another crutial tactical decision was to ride or run the white whale, I had a 38-25 and decided to run it each lap, others decided to run it, but I noticed that while running, I wasn’t losing places to those riding and at the top, I could gain a bit of space while the other guys were recovering from riding up a steep hill at 30rpm. The 2nd day played out much like the first, with walking the dirt mound the first lap while the front of the race rode away. Actually, this time, I spent much more of the race on my own, no real groups to speak of, I did end up coming in 24th on the day though winning a two up sprint. I had gotten over excited with the possibility of catching the guy infront of me when I over cooked it entering an off camber 180 which allowed the guy behind me to catch up to me. For the final 1/3 of the course, he just sat on my wheel waiting to come around me for the finish… luckily I was able to push just hard enough to hold him off for 24th place, beating him by maybe 1/2 a wheel length in the bike throw. The Maietta Steel Cross Bike, it climbs, it sprints, steel is very real.
Photo of Day 2 by Flickr user GroovyLab: 
Peter Bradshaw shot some great video of the B race, the ride-along shots are fantastic:
Overall the weekend was a vast improvement over New Jersey, the course was more varied and challenging, and the Hamptons are pretty cool, even in the off-season. Travel tip from this weekend: when trying to get to New London, 90 to 395 (and the reverse on the way back) is quick, especially for avoiding any traffic around Providence and much better than getting stuck in stop and go traffic on 95/128 inbetween the Pike and where 95 takes that turn to head towards Providence (around Exit 13).