by Chris Fischer

By all accounts, Green Acres CX lived up to expectations. This past weekend, 715 racers and gran-fondo riders showed up ready for a giant weekend of cyclocross. The signature new course feature, a 50-degree banked berm, painted green with a giant GACX pig logo emblazoned in the center, was certainly a highlight, as were several particularly tricky off-camber sections.

Brian Rogers rips around the GACX banked berm. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Designer “Berm” Brian Rogers (Synergy) takes the high line over the GACX logo during the Fatbike race. © Todd Fawcett Photography

While the weather threatened to wreak havoc all week, only a few races were significantly impacted.

Saturday started off early, with 64 participating in the Grav-Fundo Half-Hundo gravel ride. Billed as non-competitive, apparently not all received the memo. After a ceremonial lap around the venue, some took it easy, while others amped up the pace, eager for Strava-segment glory.

Back on the cyclocross course, large fields were the order of the day. 55 Junior and Women 4/5 racers took to the line for the second race of the day, in what has become a must-do event for regional Juniors.

Barr, Olejniczak Take the Wins on Saturday

Saturday’s Women’s Elite field hit the gravel climb as a pack, but it took only one lap for Megan Barr (Angry Catfish) to create a gap. She spent the rest of the 50-minute race riding clean lines and increasing that lead. Crossing the finish line, she had almost a 90-second gap over second place Carrie Seipp (Orion Racing) and another minute over Molly Clark-Oien (Queen City Cycling/Sanford Health).

Megan Barr took home wins both days at GACX. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Women’s elite winner Megan Barr (Angry Catfish) all alone in the corn maze, and everywhere else. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Comparatively, the Men’s Elite race wasn’t over until the final section. The trio of Peter Olejniczak (Borah Factory Racing), Josh Bauer (Jiayou) and John Heinlein III (Loon State Cyclists) established an early lead, and never looked back. Eventually, the trio became a dual between Olejniczak and Bauer. With rain playing a factor for the last third of the race, caution was paramount through the tricky descents.

Down to the final lap, a downhill hairpin 180-turn caused both riders to hit the deck. The two remained locked together through the last climb up the wall of sand. On the last real feature before the finish, a punchy uphill, Olejniczak put in an acceleration that Bauer was unable to match, winning by eight seconds. Heinlein would roll in 20 seconds later, hanging on for third place.

Barr and Olejniczak Double Up on Sunday

Sunday’s racing started out chilly, as the weather system that moved through brought rain, wind and colder temperatures. The course crew worked quickly to complete the changeover from Day 1’s race as well as fix storm damage.

Fans offer their thoughts on the weekend's wet, windy weather. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Heckler’s corner was unimpressed with the previous rider’s line. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Early fields saw slick conditions. A tricky side-hill chicane section became a favorite heckling spot. More than a few course stakes were broken before a hay bale was anchored to maintain the tricky corner.

The Women’s Elite race played out much like Saturday’s race. It seemed to take a bit longer for Barr to gap the field, but once separated, her lead was never in doubt. She would cruise in with another comfortable victory, this time over Corey Coogan-Cisek (The Fix Studio) and Clark-Oien.

The Men’s race saw a much different dynamic unfold. Bauer and Josey Weik (SkiHut) got an early separation from the field. A four-man chase group formed, but would lose time bunched up through the tight run-up section. The group was soon joined by Olejniczak, who took several laps to recover from a bad start. In what seemed like one lap, Olejniczak bridged up to the leading duo. Bauer, already having been at the front pushing the pace, would continue to lead. With the bell lap approaching, he relinquished the lead for a spell.

Josh Bauer and Josey Weik led early in Sunday's race. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Todd Fawcett Photography

Peter Olejniczak (Borah Factory Racing) coming across the hill, would eventually close the large gap to the lead duo. © Todd Fawcett Photography

With a half-lap to go, Bauer put in a dig through the sand run-up, which was rideable for the lead men, to take back the lead. He would lose it again in a straight section of the flat infield and gave in to exhaustion, soft-pedaling for third. Olejniczak immediately put in a charge attempting to drop Weik for good. The gap was made, but Weik kept the pressure on until the final meters. Olejniczak’s second win of the weekend would be by just two seconds. Both collapsed just past the finish line, cross-county skier style.

In what has turned into a junior-dominated contest, the team competition went to another development squad from Iowa. In only their first year of existence, Spin Devo of Mason City, Iowa brought 12 juniors and are returning with the giant cowbell trophy.

“Green Acres has been a family favorite for many years. Once again, and with a truckload of juniors, we enjoyed a premium race course and fantastic company,” said Brooke Bailey, parent and coach. “We are incredibly proud to be a part of junior cycling in the Midwest and treasure the relationships we have formed along the way.” They were quickly informed that a return trip was required in 2018 to defend the title.

Iowa's Spin Devo won the team competition. Megan Barr took home wins both days at GACX. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Melvin Church

Iowa’s Spin Devo won the team competition. 2017 Green Acres CX. © Melvin Church

See Cyclocross Magazine’s past coverage of Green Acres CX

Results - 2017 Green Acres Cyclocross

Saturday Elite Women
1Megan BarrAngry Catfish50:51
2Carol SeippOrion Racing52:15
3Molly Clark-OienQueen City Cycling/Sanford Health52:36
4Corey Coogan CisekThe Fix Studio52:37
5Rebecca IrelandThe Fix Studio52:58
Saturday Elite Men
1Peter OlejniczakBorah Factory Racing58:36
2Josh BauerJiayou58:44
3John Heinlein IIILoon State Cyclists59:04
4Josey WeikSkiHut59:11
5Nicholas LemkeCycle-Smart/HiFi100:01
Sunday Elite Women
1Megan BarrAngry Catfish50:05
2Corey Coogan CisekThe Fix Studio50:49
3Molly Clark-Oien Queen City Cycling/Sanford Health50:54
4Carly ThomsenTrek Midwest Cycling Team51:12
5Emily NordahlTeam Wheel & Sprocket51:38
Sunday Elite Men
1Peter OlejniczakBorah Factory Racing57:00
2Josey WeikSkiHut57:02
3Josh BauerJiayou57:43
4Craig FaulknerSynergy58:12
5Mark SaveryTrek Cyclocross Collective58:42