The juniors made the downhill look easy. © Kenton Berg
by LeRoi Smith
A classic Seattle day greeted racers for the SCX final race at Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. The mostly cloudy sky, with a few sun breaks and temps in the upper 30′s, guaranteed that no one could predict what the weather was going to do. One thing it did not do is warm up much. The SCX crew had that bit covered with Bob’s Red Mill handing out whole-grain warmth pre-race and New Belgium Brewing sponsoring the post-race beer garden.
To earn the New Belgium, racers burned off the oatmeal on a fast, and at times slippery course. The start was the most benign section (as they often are), a wide, flat, firm curve to a 180 going back the other way and slightly up onto a
slightly sloping, close-cropped field. Then into a series of sweeping turns that wound up, down and all the way up the field. As this section became worn these turns became increasingly greasy, snatching tires out from under the inattentive. From the top, the riders encountered the only really technical bit on the day – a very loose plunge, dropping straight down about 20 feet to a 90-degree right hander and a climb back up. One barrier just after the bend ensured a run up the hill. Many opted to run the whole thing to avoid entertaining the crowd gathered at the plunge. After the run, a straight, side-hill track ran into a 180-degree drop turn, then a dip into and out of a drainage ditch put the racers parallel to the start chute, pointed the other way headed to the pits, which a few riders needed by this point.
Some early racers may have been surprised by this as the course went back across the ditch and immediately up a very steep grass bank, which to the unwary would hardly have resembled a race course. A quick jump across the ditch and subsequent scramble up the bank deposited riders on a peanut butter mud section which quickly transitioned to a dirt road and descent to a hairpin by the pits. Speeds increased dramatically as the twists became bends and the grass turned to hard pack gravel and tarmac. A fast descent to the fairground’s race track led to what was surprisingly the most talked about feature of the course. A puddle. It wasn’t tricky, although it was at a bend. It was bottom-bracket deep, unavoidable and just above freezing. The puddle guaranteed that few racers made it through the race with feeling in their toes. Once through the puddle, a short section of muddy grass dumped racers onto a short incline on tarmac to the finish line. A series of leg burning stretches through a sandy livestock paddock put the riders at the other side of the pit and back to the start chute for another go round.
The Elite Men’s race turned into a race for 2nd early on as Russell Stevenson (Cycling Northwest) overcame an unfavorable start position to take command and win going away. The chase group consisted of Steve Fisher (Rad Racing NW), Logan Wetzel (Second Ascent), Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles) and Toby Swanson (Bro Tour). About midway through the race, Owen slid out making the transition from mud to slightly off camber tarmac climb and his mishap disrupted the chase group definitively. Fisher slipped off the front. Swanson and Wetzel continued to chase and Owen fell back to 6th before sorting himself out. Owen made a gutsy challenge in the last laps. He was able to climb back to the podium; but couldn’t quite get back, conceding 2nd to Fisher by 10 seconds. Stamping some authority on the finals, Stevenson won the race by just under a minute.
For the series, team duties outside the Northwest dramatically affected the final series standings. Logan Owen(Redline Bicycles) won the series with Jeff Gaeckle (Olympia Orthopedic Associates) second and Loren Hanson (unattached)
As with many series finals, the Elite Women’s race was two races in one. As always, daily honors were on the line, but the series victory was also up for grabs with Melanie Lewis (Blue Rooster/Sports Medicine Clinic) and Kristi Berg (Cycle
U) each able to win and controlling their own destiny. Berg, riding with a broken hand acquired while completing and winning a race two weeks ago was a bit off her normal dominant game. This left the door open for daily honors at least.
Kristen Kelsey (Buy Local Racing), who shared the lead for most of last week’s race, took full advantage today, riding solo off the front for most of the race, to victory. Lewis, looking for a series win with a victory on the day or coming
in many places ahead of Berg, worked hard; but was not able to duplicate the results of one week past. Finishing second, her shot at series supremacy rested with Berg’s performance. The normally dominant Berg was understandably low on energy today. However shear determination pulled her into the 8th slot on the day which was just enough to secure the series win. Cyclocross Magazine’s Jo Markham (Olympic Orthopedic Associates) who had a promising early season before missing a few races, powered into the final spot on the day’s podium.
With the top spot going to Berg for the 2010 series, Lewis settled into a hard fought 2nd. Courtney McFadden (Cycling Northwest) secured the final spot on the series podium with a 4th place finish on the day.
For SCX, no finale is complete without the crowning of a new Mr. Cyclocross. This is an award which carries no official duties or requirements. The winner selected has demonstrated strong commitment to, and love for, the cyclocross
community. Even without official duties, each year’s recipient has found a way to put a personal stamp on the position, helping it to become a budding institution in the Seattle ‘cross community. Previous incarnations have added
(completely unsolicited) a septre, crown, cape, appearances in costume regionally and weekly course descriptions and tips, posted to the series forum. Mr. Cyclocross 2011 works tirelessly in SCX sponsor relations; emcees at races
before most of us are awake and generally makes sure the we have races to race every fall. Mr. Cyclocross for 2011 is Phil Stephens, congratulations!
Seattle Cyclocross is proud to have concluded another successful season of racing in the Seattle metro area. Thank you to all the racers and supporters who came out to the events this year. This series would not be possible without the
racers, the organizers, or the series sponsors. SCX is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, FSA, Redline Bicycles, Thule, Northwave and Bob’s Red Mill. Full results and detailed information can be found at www.seattlecyclocross.com.
1. Russell Stevenson
2. Steve Fisher
3. Logan Owens
1. Kristen Kelsey
2. Melanie Lewis
3. Jo Markham