Here is Brendan’s report from Orchard Cross on October 27th –
October 27th, 2013 was my first experience at Applecrest Farm’s Orchard Cross. Being named Orchard Cross, I almost expected the gnarly course. It winds through a corn field, multiple cabbage patches, apple trees, around a tree fort; it’s partially marked by pumpkins and it offers multiple lanes through rows of brush. That on its own is fun, but a friend of Applecrest used landscaping equipment to create a pump track at one point and a flat-top jump at another. Awesome.
I had a strong start and made my first good move by taking the high grass lane that everyone else ignored on the first long straight, making up some good positions. Continued the trend up through some turns and power sections and was feeling good until the sandy run up and back down around a tree fort. Dropping a chain at that moment was bit of a letdown for sure as I watched those spot I earned ride away. But eventually ended up 27/73, the chain leaving its mark in an unfortunate upward blip in my season’s downward points trend (lower points is better).
I was really happy to have teammates in the same field that day. Made things radical for part of the race as Danny on his mountain bike found me and spent about a lap with me cruising along, making blocks, and pulling me through some tough sections. It’s surprising how much having a wheel in front of you to focus on maintaining helps get you through. I told him to go pick up places after I saw he was a lot fresher after running through the cabbage patches on some lap.
On the last lap, myself and another rider fought for 27th for a ways with me trailing trying to stick with him and get ready for a dash for the line. The move that got me the battle was bypassing the jump mound to the left, which set me up to make an aggressive inside corner pass (where the hup rider below is coming from). After making that pass, I did work to open a gap and call it a day.
You can see the size of the gap between the ramp and the course tape. Looks like a faster line to me. Apparently, to some people, it looks like cheating by going around a course feature that was intended to be engaged. I mean, I think in this case, I thought that it was feasible that the designers intended the side line, since there were multiple portions of the course where multiple lanes were intended to be available to you. Anyway, I took that line the entire race. It was good to me.
I think most positive things to gain from taking that side line were neutralized by not having the opportunity to catch sick air. The hurt potential was big in the morning as the mound started squared off on top, making a clear launch edge, and tapered off throughout the day.
If you go to this race, you have to hit up the bakery. To be surrounded by cider donuts, cupcakes, ice cream, pickled goods, and coffee after racing in October is pretty great to say the least.