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by LeRoi Smith
Kristi Berg (Redline Bicycles) and Zack McDonald (Stevens Bikes) took very different routes to win today. Berg pounced on a mistake early on and never looked back; McDonald waited until the final lap to spring from a strong group of four and claim his prize.
Sprinker Park in Spanaway, WA is a mostly flat course. Although the designers used the lone hill well, as run up and climbs, the signature piece of this course is the double dose of deep sand that challenged all racers to ride smooth and powerful at the same time.
The race started on pavement down one end of the parking lot. A sweeping turn brought the racers onto the dirt for a quick right, left and around the large climbing rock, slippery and off-camber. Three sets of 25 yard straights into hairpins followed, capped by a trip over the New Belgium double barriers. Racers then negotiated a short muddy section, not deep but very slippery, going into a left hand 180 and onto the park’s perimeter trail.
The next section was similar to the previous with longer straights and a noticeable climb on one leg. The middle of this set took the racers up the course’s spectator nob for the first time. One more out and back brought them into a tight right hand 90 degree turn and up the nob, this time running and jumping two railroad ties. Back down, the race jumped out to the perimeter of the park for a ride to the far corner, another set of switchbacks (sense a theme here?) and a third trip up the nob, this time after a dip through a depression, making the climb a decent length.
Another 180 and back through the dip, the racers snaked up and around a large tree before setting up for the sand. The course hugged the side of the dip, off camber, rocky and wet, as the riders approached the sandy climb out. The vertical rise was only about 3 feet; but with the slick, off-camber approach, many riders found it difficult to line up a good run. Those that did found themselves in a great position to go up and over the 3-5 foot mound of very soft sand that followed. Those that carried a lot of speed, had to concentrate on not digging front tires into the backside of the mound. Racers that did not hit the sand well, often had an ungainly dismount, followed by a run over the second sand berm and up the spectator hill. This section was very popular with the crowd.
Immediately following the sand mound, the course was back on the hill a last time setting up a quick plunge past the pits and then onto a long, paved walkway with a series of chicanes to add some interest. A tight asphalt curve dumped the racers onto the finishing straight to complete the lap.
The Elite Women got off quickly, with Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Hagens Berman) leading Kristi Berg (Redline Bicycles), Ann Knapp (Kona), Jadine Riley (Team Group Health) and Elizabeth Marzolf (Hagens Berman) for most of the first two laps. By the third lap, Lyndon-Griffith’s pressure caused gaps to form with Knapp settling into a solid third spot and Marzolf and Riley a bit further back. Berg however marked the lead rider closely as they both sliced through the Master Men’s Cat 3 traffic. A slight bobble by Lyndon-Griffith about mid-race was all Berg needed to snatch the lead and turn up the pressure enough to disallow Lyndon-Griffith’s return. Over the next few laps the gaps increased and by the end, the top three were all riding solo. Berg continued her domination of the women’s field this year, keeping her score sheet perfect. Lyndon-Griffith finished second with Knapp rounding out the podium.
With six of eight races completed, Berg has an almost insurmountable lead in the series. However, the battle for the podium will come down to the wire. When the drop race is calculated, Riley, Lyndon-Griffith, Knapp and Lea Stralka (Team Group Health) are posed to challenge the currently second and third place riders Lee Smith (Team Group Health) and Anne Love (uBRDO Team Project).
The Elite Men had a strong field today. The winners of each previous SCX race were in attendance. The entire men’s podium is still very much up for grabs so they have a lot to race for in the final few races of the series. From the gun the pace was blistering. Russell Stevenson (Benaroya Research Institute) attacked from the gun with team mate Toby Swanson close in tow. Ryan Iddings (Lapierre) and Zack McDonald (Stevens Bikes) were slightly off the pace, each working hard to stay in contact with the BRI duo. By the end of lap 2, Iddings was on; McDonald was still chasing. Eventually McDonald completed the bridge and the foursome worked together to build a gap on the chase group of last week’s winner Steve Fischer (Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman), team mate Eric Emsky and Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles). Going into the final two laps, the lead four were still together, slicing through the Master 1/2 field. It all came down to the long cement straight and the final asphalt curve before the finish. McDonald attacked and seemed willing to push the envelope on the wet corners a bit more than the rest of the crew. The gamble paid off and McDonald, riding in his shiny new Stevens Bikes kit, took the victory; Swanson was second; Stevenson completed the day’s podium.
Before considering the drop race, Swanson leads the series with Logan Wetzell (Benaroya Research Institute) in second and Steve Fischer, third. Today’s winner, McDonald, is just outside; but knocking on the door.
The SCX series takes a break next week. November 22, the series moves to another new venue for SCX in Sedro Wooley. With wet weather predicted, the designers should have a choice of everything from soupy mud to slick clay, hard-pack gravel and everything in between. It should be another stellar day for ‘cross in the Northwest. Seattle Cyclocross 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.
Photo Gallery:[Gallery not found]
Men’s and Women’s Results:
|Elite Men||Time N/A||avg lap||laps|
|1||Zack McDonald||Stevens Bicycles / Classic Cycle||0:58:52.4||0:06:32.5||9|
|2||Toby Swanson||Benaroya Research Institute||0:58:53.9||0:06:32.7||9|
|3||Russell Stevenson||Benaroya Research Institute||0:58:55.2||0:06:32.8||9|
|5||Steve Fisher||Rad Racing NW / Hagens Berman||1:00:05.8||0:06:40.6||9|
|6||Eric Emsky||Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman||1:00:06.5||0:06:40.7||9|
|7||Logan Owen||Redline Bicycles||1:00:41.5||0:06:44.6||9|
|9||Logan Wetzel||Beneroya Research Institute||1:01:33.3||0:06:50.4||9|
|10||Ian Terry||Rad Racing||1:01:42.2||0:06:51.4||9|
|11||John-Christian Flack||Valley Athletic Club||1:01:43.9||0:06:51.5||9|
|12||Cameron Charles (686)||Rocky Mountain Cycling||1:01:49.9||0:06:52.2||9|
|13||Richard McClung||Hagens-Berman LLP Cycling||1:02:34.2||0:06:57.1||9|
|15||Landon Erickson||Cucina Fresca||1:04:10.3||0:07:07.8||9|
|16||Steven Williams||Recycled Cycles||1:04:24.2||0:07:09.4||9|
|17||Aaron Mickels||Beneroya Research Institute||1:04:37.7||0:07:10.9||9|
|18||Alex Wilson||Recycled Cycles||1:04:50.5||0:07:12.3||9|
|21||Joe Brennan||Hagens Berman LLP||0:59:10.3||0:07:23.8||8|
|22||Nick Solheim||First Rate Mortgage||Time N/A||Time N/A||5|
|23||Tim Woods (43)||Bicyles Center||Time N/A||Time N/A||2|
|1||Kristi Berg||Redline Bicycles||0:46:38.2||0:07:46.4||6|
|2||Beth Lyndon-Griffith||Hagens Berman||0:46:48.2||0:07:48.0||6|
|4||Elizabeth Marzolf||Hagens Berman||0:47:29.1||0:07:54.8||6|
|5||Jadine Riley||Team Group Health||0:47:42.7||0:07:57.1||6|
|6||Lee Smith||Team Group Health||0:49:03.1||0:08:10.5||6|
|7||Anne Love||uBRDO Team Project||0:49:14.4||0:08:12.4||6|