Sept. 27, 2002 – Burien, WA -The Seattle Cyclocross Series (SCX) season opener got underway today at Evergreen High School in Burien, WA. With blue skies and warm temps the series quickly heated up with great action in both the men’s and women’s elite races as a dry and dusty course allowed for fast lap times and large splits in the groups. Today’s course set by SCC course guru Dan Norton provided the racers with a mixed bag of grass and dirt and a nasty sandy run-up thrown in to keep everyone hurting. The back and forth sections combined with a number of technical turns made sure we didn’t see anything close to a grass crit today.
At the largest ‘cross series in Washington, some hard core ‘crossers felt a little guilty enjoying the sunshine on race day; but we all knew the rain and mud would be here soon enough so we might as well break out the lawn chairs and soak up the last bit of summer in Seattle with 650 of our closest racing buddies. Evergreen High School has become a favorite course in the series with something for just about everyone. The course has 4 main highlights: a steep, moderate-length run up which this year was soft and dusty, an equally dusty and soft downhill directly after said run up, a great swooping slalom half-pipe-like descent about a 1/4 lap past the up/down and the barriers. This year the designers opted for two sets of doubles about 10 yards apart. While not particularly decisive in the racing, it was particularly painful as they were on an incline with a 90-degree left turn directly before them.
The elite women started midway through the day’s schedule at 11:00, racing at the same time as the Cat 3 Master men. From the gun it was apparent that Kristi Berg was determined to keep to the front. A small bobble at the hairpin following the downhill by Jadine Riley (Team Group Health) allowed Berg a small gap. Riley was quickly back up to speed but would find the gap difficult to close. Less than half a lap in they started running into the Master Men and would spend the rest of their race working through the groups. The order gelled into Berg, followed by Jenni Gaertner (Riverstone CDA), Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Hagens Berman), Riley and Ann Knapp (Kona). The gaps grew and shrank as they worked through groups of Master Men; but none of the riders were able to make meaningful contact with their rabbits. In the end, Berg was simply too strong and too smooth and was able to extend her lead through to the finish.
The elite men’s race was a two-up battle from the beginning. Russell Stevenson (Benaroya Research Institute) and Ryan Iddings quickly gapped the rest of the elite men. A five-man chase group formed up with Kevin Noiles (La Bicicletta Pro Shop) the group’s main aggressor early on. Zack McDonald (Classic Cycle), Toby Swanson (Benaroya Research Institute), Logan Wetzel (Benaroya Research Institute) and Steve Fisher (Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman) rounded out the chase. Controlling the race, the two leaders worked together until Iddings threw a chain with three laps to go. Stevenson opened a gap on Iddings who furiously chased back after righting his drivetrain. As Iddings was getting back in touch, it was Stevenson’s turn for some bad luck as he flatted.
Meanwhile, the chase group smelled blood and fired up the pace. Iddings apparently did not want the race to come back together this close the finish and pushed on solo as Stevenson changed his flat. Out of the pits, Stevenson was now engaged in the chase group and clearly working to close the gap to Iddings. The chase was unable to hold Stevensons wheel; but he was unable to make up the distance to Iddings before time ran out. Iddings won the race solo, Stevenson second ahead of the chase group McDonald, Swanson, Wetzel. Noiles, the early aggressor in the chase paid for his efforts, slipping to 6th.
The Seattle Cyclocross series takes a week off next week to get the annual Crosstoberfest race in on Saturday as well as the MFG series number 2 (Starbucks GP) race on Sunday at Lake Sammamish Sate park. The series will be back in action on October 11 at Beverly Park Elementary, a new venue for the series. SCX is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, FSA, Northwave and Redline Bicycles. More information can be found at www.seattlecyclocross.com. Full results below.