OPENING WEEKEND DAY ONE – XC Race #1 Tofu Curtain:
Orchard Hill/ Amherst/ Tofu Curtain… It’s had a bunch of names during its on again, off again existence, and the nature of the course oscillated between “hey this is pretty rad” and “this has to be some kind of senior prank”. But this year – on May 2nd – UMASS Amherst Cycling has partnered with B2C2 to open up the season with a track that will test not just your early season fitness, but your ability to grin from ear to ear while hollering at the top of your burning lungs. Not content with the nigh-infinitely shreddable Battle of Tofu Curtain of years past, this year there will be new twists, turns, questionable pumptrack sections, and the JRA Bad Idea Drop for you to burp your tires on.

OPENING WEEKEND DAY TWO – XC Race #2 Secret Squirrel:
On Sunday May 3rd, Rock Hard Racing brings XC back to Myles Standish with another edition of the Secret Squirrel. Using bits of the old Lung Opener course and some brand new, pinecone strewn bits for you to blast with your best buddies, day two of Opening Weekend is definitely on the do not miss list. Mike and his crew always deliver on the production value, so expect a great time on and off the bike (and hopefully mac and cheese).

XC Race #3 Assault on the Castle:
The next stop on our thigh-wrecking tour around New England is the newish Assault on the Castle in Haverhill, MA. The last day of May is gonna be a ripper – the Riverside crew have been curating that trail system for years now, and it rides like a world class XC course. You’ll feel like you’re on one of those speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi, except no laser swords and sometimes it smells like a burning television.

XC Race #4 Pats Peak:
You like climbing? You Like ripping descents? Are you free on June 14th? Pats Peak in Henniker, NH has been letting you choose your own adventure (XC, Marathon, 24-hr, and DH) for years now. Watching this course evolve over the last 10+ years has been a real treat – the Pat’s crew cares about this race enough to not schedule any weddings on that day, and the improvements they’ve made turned what was once an uninspired slog up an inconceivably muddy mountainside into a true XC track that will challenge your legs on the way up and your arms on the way down.

XC Race #5 Bikes for Bovines:
Bikes for Bovines in Keene, NH might be one of the low-key best courses in the series. Tricky corners, great little tech sections, and some punchy climbing make this a grab bag of awesome. Riders are going to have to dig deep to find the right balance between picking the fastest lines and picking themselves out of the bushes on a track that rewards skill and handling as much as thigh volume. July 19th – if you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely should!

XC Race #6 The Horror at Harding Hill:
The oldest race in the NECS is The Horror at Harding Hill in Sunapee NH. Which is a strange name because it is neither horrible nor particularly hilly. It actually has a solid mix of terrain, and some really interesting sections that reward both legs and line choice. Almost always a criminally under attended event, this classic NEMTB course is a short cool down ride away from one of the best ice cream spots in the region. Come on down on July 26th for some legitimately old-school racing!

XC Race #7 Hells Half Acre:
Jumping on the series this year is the opening stage of the Hells Half Acre ​Stage Race weekend. Big River has some of the best and most varied riding in RI, and expect the best from Jim Grimley and his crew. This event gives you another big weekend too – race on August 2nd and you can double up with the Headbangers race on the 3rd and start feeling like its CX season (except even radder) already.

Race #8 Central Maine Cycling Challenge:
Closing out the series is the Central Maine Cycling Challenge on 8/15 at Titcomb Mountain. If you’ve never ridden there, it’s like a slightly more technical Kingdom Trails – switchback climbs, some absolutely ripping descents, rock walls, optional lines if you feel like sending it – this place has pretty much everything except slow, flat tech. Every racer in New England should get up to these trails at least once: it’s like racing on a roller coaster track that occasionally smacks your thighs with a sock full of quarters.