Ho Ho Hoo Ha Handicap Invitational Wrap Up.
On December 31st, 2011 a group of us at WHCC had the chance to try a brand new format for a cyclocross race. About 20 people showed to race and about 30 more to watch and take part in the festivities during a beautiful and unseasonably warm winter day. We put together a challenging 5 min course (for the fastest riders) that had a lot of technical, greasy off-camber turns and a tough power section up a long slight grade into a brisk headwind.
The format worked like this – we had two heats and started the fastest riders last. We took everyones Cross Results ranking and converted that into what would be the equivalent time gap, i.e a difference of x number of CR points resulted in x starting time difference. Riders started off individually, much like a time trial, with the next rider sent off with the calculated time gap. The wide expanse of abilities that day left us with a total time gap of nearly 8 minutes from the first rider to the last. The result was very close racing at the end between riders who have never likely raced together before – men, women, juniors all going head to head at once. It ended up being a crowd and rider favorite as you could hear the cheers throughout the course, especially with the close and unexpected finishes.
Heat number one was 5 laps with a short prologue to enter the course. Being a short course, those starting last were already chasing riders that were well over a lap ahead and had a lot of time to make up. We weren’t sure if it would be possible – but the three fastest riders managed to pull everyone back and just barely finish at the top – Weaver, Rades, Rojas in that order.
For heat number two, we shortened it to 4 laps but kept the time gaps the same. Knowing that the early starters were still leading at 4 laps in the first heat made us think that it could be possible for them to take the top places – but for them, they had already raced a full race at nearly 40 minutes. Could they hold on for another 25-30 minutes? Apparently, yes – the spectators cheering drove them on and Aaron Ghais, who lead wire to wire, just barely edged out second place Terry Harrigan and a fast charging group of Weaver (who caught Laura Murray at the last turn) and Rades just seconds behind. Very shortly after a large group of about 8 came in single file through the finish with all the others just seconds behind. It was the closest heat of the day and kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
For our first attempt at a handicap event it was a definite success and a nice change from the ordinary routine that we attend week after week during the heart of the season. Followed up with plenty of food and drinks made it even more enjoyable. It was a good test run for plans to run more events like this in the future. Thanks to everyone who came out and joined us and we hope you had as much fun as we did.