2010 cyclocross course rankings

By Nat on December 29th, 2010

In honor of all the year-end lists for everything, I thought I’d take a moment of my vacation time to reflect on the 2010 ‘cross season, and rank (in descending order) the race courses from this past wonderful season. My list is compiled from what I remember of these courses, as I sit here on my sofa looking out the window at the rain and eating chocolate-covered blueberries. It is important to note that the weather had a huge influence on my rankings, as mud can make or break a course.  And as we all know, the type of mud is the most important part.  If I had made this list a week ago, I’m sure it would look differently, and if I look at it again I’ll start to re-arrange it, so I’ll stop now and leave it as is.  I’m also sure that next year it will be completely different than this.  We had a wet season, and some venues that were so-so the previous year became incredible with the addition of rain and mud, while others suffered.  I’ve tried to not let my finishing place influence my rakings below, as the rankings pertain to the course as it was on race-day, but I’m sure there is slight correlation.  Here’s my list. What’s yours?

1. Cross Crusade: Clatsop County Fairgrounds (Astoria) – Day 2
This was the perfect course; mud, technical off camber drop, slippery corners, quick will-breaking climbs, high-speed descent, fast pavement, plenty of room to pass and race, and acceleration after acceleration. Perfection!
2. Cross Crusade: Clatsop County Fairgrounds (Astoria) – Day 1
Very similar to Day 2’s race, but it was ever-so-slightly less technical.  The varied terrain makes this venue fantastic, and the quick up & downs really create great racing.  There are so many opportunities to go down, so riding cleanly is critical.
3. Cross Crusade: Sherwood Forest Equestrian Center
I know this is probably on the bottom of a lot of people’s lists, but I absolutely love this course.  It is so fast, with a killer run-up, and the best climb of the year.  It was dry, so the speed on the back half of the course was amazing.  It hurt, but it hurt so good.
4. Blind Date at the Dairy Series
I have to lump the entire series together, even though the course changed a bit each week, it used the majority of the same terrain each week.  The laps were short, really fast, and always entertaining.  The run-up was fantastic, because it always offered the opportunity to be ridden.  Each week really allowed for true racing against the competition.   There was no room for error, and by the end of each race, things seemed to sort themselves out properly.  Every week was my new favorite.
5. Pain+Suffer’n CX
Again, probably not on a lot of people’s “like” list.  For some reason, I loved this hot dusty painful race.  There were so many barriers, and the steep uphill followed by the continuous gradual climb really hurt, yet it created a great race.  The addition of the SW section of the course with the off-camber switchback sections took an average course and made it awesome.
6. Battle at Barlow
The stair run-up always makes this course unique, but the addition of a lot of peanutbuttery mud and hidden ruts made this race really fun.  The off-camber berms, followed by the fast pavement corner is great as well.  The mud changed throughout the day, but for my race it was slippery and perfect.
7. USGP of Cyclocross – Day 2
There is something special about racing on a course that is entirely taped.  No cones, just an endless taped chute.  This course was fast, with flypaper mud, and some quick off-camber up & downs with tons of cornering.  Everyone had fun racing here. Plenty of room to pass, yet everything was tight and twisty.
8. USGP of Cyclocross – Day 1
Even muddier than the second day, with mud so thick it could pull your shoes off.  Slightly less technical than day 2, but still an amazing course for racing the competition.
9. Cross Crusade: Washington County Fair Complex (Hillsboro)
This was a mudfest with more muddy mud.  This course would be rated lower had it not been so muddy, but the giant wet mud bogs, along with the endless amount of slippery mud corners really made this flat course an absolute blast.  The off camber straightaway was a bonus for the racers and the spectators.
10. Hood River Double Cross Day 1
Very cool course design.  Lots of grass, and good tight corners.  The lower run-ups are great (as long as you run across the bridges, not ride off!), and the smaller fields make the single-track feel a lot of fun.  It is difficult to pass, but that is part of the appeal.
11. Cross Crusade: Barton Park
Some serious high-speed happening here.  The muddy berm drop is very entertaining as well.  This course is not as technical as it looks, but it does take its toll with the steep run-ups and flat stretches of hammering.  Great for racing (not for delicate tires!).
12. Cross Crusade: Alpenrose Dairy
Love the variety of terrain, and the tons of tight corners.  The backside addition was great, but the classic steep run-up was missed, as well as that entire portion of the course.  It is a zoo, and very difficult to pass, but the huge fields and chaos are part of the charm.
13. Hood River Double Cross – Day 2
Even though this is not at the top of the list, it was still great, and possibly one of the best courses for pure tactical fitness racing. Almost like a crit.  It was muddy, but still quick, and had a nice running section through the mud pit.
14. Cross Crusade: Rainier High School
This could be consistently the best course of the year, but this year the mud was so thick that it had to move down the list.  Mud is great, but this was SO thick and slow, that it was silly.  A lot of people just ran entire sections, and others just slogged along at a crawl pace.  Still, the route is amazing, the climb is killer, and the terrain is so varied.  It hurt, and if the goo was a little different, allowing us to ride more, this would be at the top of the list.
15. Cross Crusade: Portland International Raceway
This was really wet and muddy, which made the simple course fun.  They cut out most of the technical aspects of the course, so it became very straightforward racing in a lot of mud.  It was a blast, but really lacked the technical off-camber aspects that PIR is notorious for having.
16. OBRA CCX Championship
Crazy off-camber mud.  The majority of the course was off-camber mud followed by paved sections.  The climb was deceivingly tough.  This course is rated last because a lot of people were crashing on the pavement, and into other immovable objects.  The course design was really well done (aside from only 1 barrier), but the amount of clay mud made the race less enjoyable than it could have been.  Still, I was glad to have raced it.  Even my least favorite course was still fun.

One response to “2010 cyclocross course rankings”

  1. Ken says:

    No way, Astoria was terrible! Bottom of my list. But I see why a complete rider like Nat would like it. Mainly it sucked for me because Astoria exploited everyone of my weaknesses tight corners, slippery corners, off-camber slippery corners, tight off-camber slippery corners. And I had the wrong tires for that mud hill. Boo on that! :-)

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