2001 Seattle Cyclocross Series #3 © Janet Hill

The sand provided a tough challenge for racers © Janet Hill

By Kenton Berg

The Seattle Cyclocross series race #3 returned to the shores of Silver Lake in Everett, WA for the third installment in the series on Sunday. Known for its two long sand sections and numerous short, punchy hills, the Silver Lake park course, and course setters, did not disappoint those looking for a very hard affair and having to use all the ’cross skills in the book.

With riders hitting the sand within seconds of starting, the pack separations started early, as did the suffering. After the sand came a short, loose hill with one barrier set in it which forced riders to dismount and run, again, before hitting what might have been the only flat section of the course at the top of the park. Following that brief respite riders plunged down to a 180 degree turn back up the hill only to face another drop and 90 degree turn. Then it was back onto the sand for another leg scorching section before hitting the leg-sapping climb up the other side. Another series of drops with tight, off-camber turns awaited the riders and then a small sand pit at the barriers. Thrown in one more leg burner of a short climb and some more twisty downhill off-camber turns and you were back to the beach to do it all over again.

The elite men saw a group of 4 get away mid-way through the first lap and no one was going to make it across the gap. Steve Fisher (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW) took the hole shot into the sand and led out Russell Stevenson (Cycling NW), Gian Dalle (Rio Blanco) and Adam McGrath (Van Dessel). The four stayed together for the first few laps before Fisher and Stevenson gained a ten second advantage over McGrath with Dalle trailing by a further ten seconds. McGrath eventually clawed back to the leading duo and left Dalle hanging in no man’s land to continue to lose ground. The bell lap saw Stevenson attack and put in the fastest lap of the day which put some daylight between himself and the two chasers. The move offered him plenty of time in hand to sit up, roll in, and give a two-handed salute for the win. Fisher rolled in 12 seconds behind the celebrating Stevenson and McGrath followed to round out the podium. The win was a special one for Stevenson as he will be moving from the Northwest for Boulder shortly and the Colorado crew can look forward to doing battle with him there.

The women’s elite race saw some of the tightest racing so far this season as it took a last lap effort to find a podium spot. Natasha Hernday (Mafia Racing) dominated the race from the middle of lap one on to earn her first series win leaving Mel Lewis (CycleU/PopCap), Courtney McFadden (Cycling NW), and Kristi Berg (CycleU/PopCap) to fight it out for the final two podium spots. Tight, back-and-forth racing ensued as each racer had the opportunity to get away but could never capitalize on it, which resulted in all three trading positions multiple times over the final few laps. Late into the final lap McFadden dug deep to put a small gap in over Lewis with Berg trailing by only a few bike lengths. That small lead would hold to the line as only five seconds separated those three with Lewis rounding out the podium. With the top five ladies in the series having only 100 points separating them the racing from here on out will only getting tighter and more aggressive.

The SCX series takes a week off before heading to Enumclaw on October 30th for a Halloween bash. For more information or results visit SCX at www.seattlecyclocross.com.

Janet Hill Gallery: