(Photo credit: Copyright Jay Westcott, 2011)
The Tacchino Ciclocross, Squadra Coppi's annual cyclocross race, showed this year what the results are when you combine the second-largest cyclocross racing region in the country (according to figures in the latest issue of Cyclocross Magazine), a top-quality venue, and a dedicated promotion crew. In short: hard, quality racing and fun on and off the course.
The Tacchino, held at Maryland's Rosaryville State Park on September 25, was noteworthy this year for a whole host of reasons. Promoter Jim McNeely, who starts thinking about the next year's race almost as soon as the last course stake is pulled up at the end of race day, had a vision of an event that would "take it to the next level." The Tacchino did that in spades: opening the new MABRACross Super8 Series; hosting a packet pickup on race eve at event sponsor Vapiano in Ballston; drawing a record number of pre-registered racers; handing out thousands of dollars in prizes and swag for racers, paying well beyond the series minimums, all thanks to our amazing sponsors (see logos and links on the event page); super-cool event t-shirts; loads of primes awarded by The Tacchino himself; a "back nine" with beer and tunes spinning all day courtesy of Coppi DJ Adam Austin; super-cool flags with the new Tacchino logo; and, not to be forgotten, hordes of enthusiastic racers who were psyched to be out on a muddy, challenging course.
Race sponsor Cyclocross Magazine has a report on their website that captures the flavor and racing of the day, but thanks to quality volunteer organization and team support, Coppi racers themselves also had the chance to get out there and share their experiences as well.
A huge part of the Coppi story on the day came from the ever-growing junior 'crosser squad. Scott Thompson has the report on the younger Thompsons' exploits in the Cat 4 Men's (a word to MABRA Cat 4s, and before long, Cat 3s: be very afraid) and junior 10-14 races, featuring "Der Jake" and Liam, respectively. Also in the 10-14 race was new Coppi 'crosser Dustin, a friend of Liam's, and a welcome addition to the junior squad. In the 15-18 race, Luke Klaussen clearly picked up some of the mojo from 2009 Cat 3 BAR Champ Andrew Welch's former bike, and ripped off a 7th place finish.
Luke's dad Dan had the worse end of it, though, giving up his MTB shoes and clipless pedals for his son, and hefting a 28(!) pound mountain bike over the barriers in the Masters 3/4 race, where he still finished 35th. Funny thing about cyclocross: now he's hooked. Elsewhere in the Masters 3/4, Ryan Newill pulled off a classy 30th despite claiming to be on the "all taper, all the time" training plan for cyclocross this year, while Lindsey had a few thoughts on "racing with the dudes" in the same race. Scott Thompson, Dave Pedersen, and Ken Woodrow all gutted it out in the elite Masters, and showed the Coppi colors proudly.
As mentioned, Jake Thompson led the way in the Men's 4 race, though Chris Grengs wasn't far back with a solid 19th place. Dave Battan and Joe Metro also turned in good rides, though Joe almost failed in his primary goal, which was "not to throw up." Darn thost last-minute pre-race snacks! Tara Taylor put in a great rookie 'cross performance in the Women's 4 race.
In the "What were they thinking?" category, Jeff Trinh flew in from Beijing the night before (no joke) and decided the best way to combat jet lag was to go race in the Single Speed category. Said Jeff, "I may have only had one gear, but I experienced multiple layers of pain and suffering and sick pleasure." Jon Burns was right there with him, proclaiming the gospel of SSCX: "If you're going to be dumb, you'd better be tough." Ol' Jonny turned an early mechanical (apparently they do happen in single speed racing) into a golden opportunity, and found his true calling: handup artist extraordinaire. "So as the single speeders blazed through I passed out chocolate donuts," Jon explained, before turning to his training plans for 2013 cyclocross worlds in Louisville, KY: "See you next year as I plan to introduce turkey burger and milkshake handups."
In the later races of the day, Kimani Nielsen battled at the front end of the 3/4 "Killer B's" race, taking advantage of late bobbles by his competitors ("booyah!") to finish 4th. Mike Davis held off the hordes to finish in the top half of the field, while DJ Adam raced himself silly after previously suffering through the Masters 3/4 earlier in the day. Andrew Welch rounded out the day for Coppi racers with a strong performance in the crazy fast elite race.
Squadra Coppi is grateful to the sponsors, officials, racers, and spectators who helped make the 2011 Tacchino such a success.