Seattle Cyclocross #8, Monroe, WA 11/29/09 © Janet Hill

The run-up provided a good passing opportunity for the runners. © Janet Hill

by LeRoi Smith

Monroe, WA – Kristi Berg (Redline Bicycles) put an exclamation point on her perfect SCX season and Toby Swanson (Benaroya Research Institute) added a finals victory to his slim points lead to take the Elite Men’s title.

The TV weather gurus called for sun breaks and to their credit the sky did get a little brighter toward the end of the day and the mist/drizzle stopped at some point. Perhaps not a great day for many activities, but perfect for the final race of the 2009 SCX series at the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe.

The Evergreen State Fairgrounds course doled-out pain in equal proportions to all. A long, wide, flat start straight (well, it was slightly curved) at the pit area ran into a righty 180 onto a gentle climb on gravel, then softish grass up an RV-parking area, a left-hand 180 back down the grass led into a series of alternating tight, then swooping turns that worked back up the field.

From the top, racers prepared for the technical section. A left-hand 90 dropped the field steeply down an embankment and into an immediate 90-right. The course started a gentle off-camber climb back up, but almost immediately took a sharp right turn and went straight up the bank for about ten yards. At the top, the course ran along the side hill for 40 yards and then plunged into a left-hand 180 around a large bush.

Back along the side hill lower down now the course needed to cross a drainage ditch to get back on the road paralleling the start straight. The ditch was just about big enough for a 700c wheel if the hit were straight on. Luckily the direction of travel was more obtuse and most riders were able to negotiate the dip with just a spray of mud to show for it.

A brief, flat stint brought the racers to their second encounter with the ditch. This time they had to jump into or over it as the slope on the other side was too steep to ride. The ten-vertical-foot run-up provided a good passing opportunity for the fleet of feet. This was the only runner-friendly section as the course was barrier-free.

The top of the run-up held a series of S-turns through soft sand before dropping past the pits and onto a gravel road. The gravel switched to pavement after a loose high-speed turn before the transition into a sandy livestock paddock. As the day progressed, the sand set up into small berms, making this a very fast section.

Next, the course went through a barn and past the New Belgium beer garden, helping urge the racers on to a swift conclusion of the race and the enjoyment of a cold recovery beverage. Out of the barn the course snaked in and out of paddocks as it made its way past the team tent area and back out to the pits and the long, fast, back straight to end a full lap.

Icing On Berg’s Cake
From the start, Kristi Berg (Redline Bicycles) rode like she needed the win. In fact, she needed only to finish to claim her series victory. But she was not about to let up now, with a trip to Bend in the near future.

At the end of the first lap, the gaps had already formed, but they were not unassailable. Berg off the front, Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Hagens-Berman) chasing hard and Ann Knapp (Kona) a close third. Over the next few laps Knapp reeled in, and passed, Lyndon-Griffith, but Berg extended her lead.

In the last few laps Knapp did begin to close the gap as she has been doing late in the past couple of races, but she was unable to make up the distance and had to settle for second. Lyndon-Griffith maintained her gap on teammate Elizabeth Marzolf for the final podium spot.

For the series, the top of the podium was never really in doubt, with Berg winning every race. Strong and consistent finishes by Jadine Riley (Team Group Health) locked the second podium spot for her. The battle for third came down to the final race with Ann Knapp edging out Beth Lyndon-Griffith.

Swanson Brings it Home
With Zach McDonald (Stevens/Classic Cycles) off to Europe, the series came down to a winner-take-all, three-way showdown. For all intents and purposes the final race finishing order would determine the series finish order among Steven Fisher (Rad Racing NW – Hagens Berman), Logan Wetzel (Benaroya Research Institute) and Toby Swanson (Benaroya Research Institute).

Swanson came into the final race with a slim points lead but no victories on the year. Perhaps that was weighing on his mind at the start because he was off like a shot from the get-go. Setting a blistering pace, Swanson literally, and figuratively, never looked back as he led wire to wire.

Riding like a scalded cat, Swanson built a commanding minute and a half lead by the finish. Meanwhile, the early chase was left to Fisher and Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles) with Swanson’s teammate, Wetzel along for the ride. The chase eventually proved too much for the two and after Swanson’s lead was unassailable, the good teammate was able to take a shot for himself.

After leaving his chase companions, Wetzel was able to build a lead of almost a minute before the finish to claim second on the day and the series. Fisher outlasted Owen to round out the podium.

Photo Gallery:

Results:

Elite Women

1Kristi BergRedline Bicycles0:47:56.9
2Ann KnappKona0:48:19.1
3Beth Lyndon-GriffithHagens Berman0:49:20.3
4Elizabeth MarzolfHagens Berman0:50:49.4
5Anne LoveuBRDO Team Project0:51:03.5
6Jadine RileyTeam Group Health0:51:57.7
7Lee SmithTeam Group Health0:53:02.4

Elite Men

1Toby SwansonBenaroya Research Institute1:03:43.0
2Logan WetzelBeneroya Research Institute1:05:21.7
3Steve FisherRad Racing NW / Hagens Berman1:06:11.9
4Logan OwenRedline Bicycles1:06:21.7
5Eric EmskyRad Racing NW/Hagens Berman1:06:32.1
6John-Christian FlackValley Athletic Club1:07:17.2
7Richard McClungHagens-Berman LLP Cycling1:07:18.7
8Steven WilliamsRecycled Cycles1:07:22.3
9Carl HulitRecycled Cycles1:07:29.9
10Craig FowleruBrdo.com1:08:53.7
11Landon EricksonCucina Fresca1:09:00.2
12James BirkenbuelAlik Rubicon1:09:01.9
13Alex WilsonRecycled Cycles1:09:34.4
14Ben RathkampWWU1:09:35.0
15Aaron MickelsBeneroya Research Institute1:10:43.7
16Joe BrennanHagens Berman LLPTime N/A
17Kyle McGilvrayOld Town Bicycles1:04:15.6
18Loren HansonBRITime N/A
19Tim Woods (43)Bicyles Center1:13:34.7
21Nick SolheimFirst Rate Mortgage0:00:00.0