by Robert Milligan
Sunday’s MFG Cyclocross #5 in Washington had some heavy hitters—and familiar names on these pages—looking for wins in the Elite races.
When the day ended at the Harold LeMay auto museum, one would have a dominant win and the other found himself in a modern-day David v. Goliath affair.
We’ll get back to this in a moment.
There are four legs that make up a great cyclocross race: venue (and course), weather (rain, cold, mud?), racers (of all types) and spectators (and food vendors!).
MFG No. 5 was held on the property of the famed Harold LeMay auto museum. Starting in the 1960’s, Harold began buying old cars and trucks. Today, his family estate manages the largest private collection of automobiles and trucks in the world, much of it stored in buildings on this property.
While this course layout didn’t pass any gleaming antiques (stored indoors), it did traverse between unusual ancient and rusting trucks. This race course had two tough hill climbs with soft dirt and round river rocks. The descents were separated by a forested slope with off-camber traverses and turns. Only a few could accomplish both climbs while mounted; most shouldered their bikes.
One particularly valuable cyclocross skill on this course was “timing the pass.” As these descents were windy steep single tracks, one needed to ensure that a slower rider didn’t start the descent just ahead of you, else you’d be held back, confounding what would otherwise be a swift brake-tapping-only descent. Need to jump those riders before the descent.
The weather didn’t repeat last year’s early snowfall and a white-out course. Though the early morning arrivals came through black clouds and heavy rain, just before the first start a magical sun peeked out and the clouds rolled back to the horizon. Another of Seattle’s reputation-defying days.
Some of the nearly 700 racers showed up aiming to elevate their rankings before the season closer, anxious to claim that season podium. Over 100 youth racers competed, including a cute little bunch of the next generation of racers mounted on tiny push bikes.
For the older teens, a high-stakes team battle formed. The seasoned and accomplished young racers from Cycle U‘s team lined on one side of the starting line. The other half was formed by a band of inner city kids from the Major Taylor Project (MTP) team yet eager to start.
The MTP works with Cascade Bicycle Club (largest club in the nation), to provide bikes and training to inner inner city kids who might not otherwise even be riding bikes. Really cool. On this day, over 30 MTP kids raced, an inspirational sight for all.
The Elite Women’s race was won handily by Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic Assoc). Lloyd has been on a roll for the past several years and won the Masters 40-44 Nationals race in Reno.
The day before MFG No. 5., Lloyd traveled south to Bend, Oregon and won the Cyclocross Crusade race there. Before Sunday’s race, she wondered how well she’d perform after Saturday’s hard effort. In the second lap, Lloyd pulled ahead and then stayed on the gas as the laps ticked down. She extended her gap over a minute and then finished a minute and a half ahead of second place.
Laura Jeddeloh (MD Endurance Coaching) took second and Stephanie Taplin (Indigenous Wheel Co.), finished another 1.5 minutes behind in third.
The Elite Men’s race was a David v. Goliath affair.
All eyes were on the reigning champ Ian Tubbs (AUDI, age 47) and the upstart Adrian Magun (Apex Racing, age 14). Tubbs has an impressive elite racing background with many wins over eight years, including 4th place overall in this year’s brutal Dirty Kanza’s 200-mile gravel race. Magun first climbed onto the podium at age 8 and has been ascending categories steadily every year.
From the start of the Elite Men’s race, these two launched to the front of the pack, trading places several times in five laps. Magun’s stealthy frame would sneak past Tubbs on corners, and then Ian would power up his engine on the straights, drop a gear and pass Adrian. Many wondered if this would be Adrian’s first Elite win.
Magun went shoulder-to-shoulder with Tubss into the final turn. Who would win? It was hard to tell who’d pull ahead, with both racers grimacing and wrestling their bikes with seeming abandon. And then, like a big-bore engine, amid the loud cheering and clanging bells, Tubbs opened valves wide and pulled ahead of Magun, but only crossing the line by four-tenths of a second.
Third place went to Brian McCleery (Ravenna Capital Management), another minute back.
The Athletic sponsored the race and provided podium finishers with their socks.