Since his return to cyclocross after nearly ten years away from racing, Northern California racers and fans have grown accustomed to seeing cyclocross legend Don Myrah in stripes. Some years it has been the stars and stripes of the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, while the last three years it’s been the blue and rainbow stripes of the Masters World Champion titles he earned in Gossau, Switzerland, and twice in Louisville, Kentucky in 2012 and 2013.
Some old-timers remember his stripes from his earlier career as a top cyclocross and mountain bike racer, including four Elite Men Cyclocross National Championships, quite possibly still a record among active racers that he shares with Jonathan Page.
This year, Myrah’s hopes of maintaining a striped wardrobe were pinned on the National Championships in Austin, Texas, as budget, time and home life constraints kept him from defending his World Championship title in Gossau.
It also depended on successfully defeating Pete Webber, a fellow mountain bike legend four years younger who typically rules his age category, and just aged up. It’s a battle fans can expect every five years until one of them hangs it up.
The last time the two met was in Bend, Oregon, and Webber defeated Myrah to take the 40-44 title.
Myrah was not confident heading into Nationals this year, but after a poor start was moving up through the field, and made it up to sixth when disaster struck. Webber would ride away from the field for his first-ever Masters 45-49 National Championship after four victories in the 40-44 age group.
After a disappointing race in Austin, Myrah didn’t hang it up for the season, but instead took out his revenge on a local Bay Area race in San Jose the following Saturday, leading teammate Brock Dickie to a 1-2 finish at the Super Pro San Jose race at Lake Cunningham.
Did it make up for a disappointing National Championships race?
“Well…” Myrah said and then laughed.
“It’s fun to be out riding my bike, and I’m kinda sad to see the season ending,” Myrah told Cyclocross Magazine after his win in San Jose. “It’s fun, today’s my birthday, so it’s always fun to win on your birthday.”
As for his Nationals race, it essentially ended after rolling his tubular on the second lap, something that he said really surprised him, as it was on a wheel and tire he’d been riding for over a month without issue. “I rode the rest of the race, and tried to have fun,” Myrah said, and would finish far back in 35th place.
Before the race, Myrah had realistic expectations, and by no means was confident he’d make it up to the front. “Pete rode a great race, I don’t know if I would have been fit enough to beat him this year,” Myrah admitted. “I would have loved to give him a great race, but it wasn’t in the cards this year.”
Five years from now, they’ll meet again in the same category, as Myrah ages up next year.
“I already told [Webber] I will be gunning for him five year,” Myrah revealed.
Hear Myrah recall his race in the interview below.