Lea Stralka (Ragnorak) rode solidly to take 3rd. © Kenton

by Kenton Berg

The MFG Cyclocross Series got back to business on Sunday after a week off and saw nearly 800 riders come out for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance / Starbucks GP held at the Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend, WA. As a part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month proceeds from the event will be donated to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to help treat those patients battling breast Cancer.

The Women’s Elite group hit the bumpy, rolling course nearing mid day as it was drying out from an early morning shower that challenged the early racers with several greasy turns and made for some challenging racing on an otherwise straight forward course.

CycleU/PopCap rider Mel Lewis working hard for second today. © Kenton

CycleU/PopCap rider Mel Lewis working hard for second today. © Kenton

From the gun Jenni Gaertner (Raleigh) would take command of the race and start to lay the foundation for another series win. Chasing hard behind here were Mel Lewis (CycleU/PopCap), Lea Stralka (Ragnorak), Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Recycled Cycles), Natasha Hernday (Mafia Racing), and Kristi Berg (CycleU/PopCap). With Gaertner in solid command of the race the chase group would ride together until the half way point when Lewis, Stralka and Lyndon-Griffith would leave the other behind to begin the fight for the two remaining podium spot. Lewis would eventually pull away from the others and would come in one minute down leaving Stralka and Lyndon-Griffith to fight it out for third. Stralka would gain an edge on near the end of the last lap to get a three second lead and kept it to take the final podium spot.

Starbucks rider Mark Mirante covered in blood and sweat. © Kenton

Another wave of showers would greet the Men’s Elite group as they lined up for the last race of the day and tire choice would end up being an important part of the racing. By the end of lap one a group of four leaders had formed and it looked certain that the winner would come from that group. The dichotomy of the group made for some great racing as the elder statesman, Russell Stevenson (Raleigh) would put his race savvy to use against the younger guns consisting of Logan Owen (Redline), newly transplanted Adam McGrath (Feedback Sports/Van Dessell), and Morgan Schmitt ( As this group continued the high-paced racing lap after lap the young guns kept putting in surges and looking for spots to open up gaps. Stevenson explained in our post-race discussion “that I just left the young dudes up there to pull me around and let them surge away and wear down…I knew eventually I’d get an opportunity to make a move and banked on them not working together to catch me.” Additionally, Stevenson also attributed his solid ride to his tires choice saying “just before the race started I threw on the Dugast’s and the knobbier tread definitely let me rail the corners faster than the other guys.” By the time the race had wound down to two to go Stevenson had made his move  and was 7 second ahead of McGrath and Owen who were clearly pushing it to catch him. The bell lap showed Stevenson had increased his lead to nearly 20 seconds as he had time to take a beer hand up as he neared the last 200 meters and it was going to be a shoot out to see who would take second. McGrath managed to get a slight gap on Owen over the last barrier set and that was all he needed to hold on for second.

Single Speeders tackle the off camber uphill. © Joe Martin

Single Speeders tackle the off camber uphill. © Joe Martin

An additional congratulations are also in order for Jenni Gaertner as she also won the women’s single speed race making it another solid day for series title sponsor Raleigh.

The MFG Cyclocross series takes a two week breather and will be back in action again on October 23rd at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.