Our coverage is brought to you in part by Feedback Sports. See them at the Women's Forum tonight if you're in Reno.

Our coverage is brought to you in part by Feedback Sports. See them at the Women’s Forum tonight if you’re in Reno.


Normally a defending champion and silver medalist and top American at Masters Worlds would line up at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships as an odds-on favorite.

Bob Downs (Planet Bike) had a nice run-up to Nationals. He took a silver medal at his goal race, the Masters Worlds in Mol. Belgium. He avoided the frigid Wisconsin temperatures in balmy Southern California, took in three laps at the NCNCA Districts in Northern California, and had a flawless start in the Masters 65-69 race in Reno.

Bob Downs on his way to defending his title, before a rear flat tire. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Bob Downs on his way to defending his title, before a rear flat tire. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

John Wilson (S&M) took the holeshot and led for the first lap, with Martin Soetaert (Rol Wheels) and Russell Thorstrom (Team Upcycle) working to pull Wilson back and Downs tucked in right behind.

After a lap, Downs was on the way up. With his trademark neck bandana and Paul Curley-style rearview mirror, it was hard to miss Downs out on the course, and he had a commanding lap just two laps in.

If Downs squinted into his mirror on the long straightaways, he might have seen Wilson giving chase. Wilson said he was feeling the effects of his fast start on lap two, and needed to charge up the reserves for a strong finish.

John Wilson grabbed the holeshot and then sat behind Bob Downs before double flatting. Masters 60-64. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

John Wilson grabbed the holeshot and then sat behind Bob Downs before double flatting. Masters 60-64. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

With a lap and a half left, everything changed. Downs bombed down towards the off-camber climb, but soon was looking down at his rear tire instead of his rear mirror. He didn’t like what he saw, or felt, and no longer could rely on just his legs to do the talking. A few curse words escaped, as he worried that flatting just past the pits doomed his repeat title chances.

It was just the opportunity Wilson needed to retake the lead, but if Downs was unlucky, Wilson was doubly so. Double flat, in almost the identical spot as Downs.

The course dried out throughout the day, increasing speeds, and the brief Wednesday mud helped expose more rocks and increased the height of the multiple pavement crossings. Could such flat tires on Wednesday foreshadow dangers racers will face later in the week, especially as speeds increase? We’ll see.

Behind, a patient Scott Paisley (MVC / Blue Wheel) was riding a steady race, not worrying about foreshadowing or chasing the long shadows in the fading sun. The new-to 60-64 age group Paisley heard from a certain observant photographer out on the course that Downs had flatted, and suddenly was turbo-charged with a sense of opportunity. Paisley passed racers riding their rims, hit the front, kept his tires rolling, and rode the final lap as the 2018 Masters 60-64 National Champion.

Scott Paisley celebrates his win in the Masters 60-64 race. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Scott Paisley celebrates his win in the Masters 60-64 race. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Barney Baxter (Jigawatt Cycling) also passed the flat-tire plagued early leaders to finish second, with Jay Thorton (G2 Bike), rolling in for third. Downs recovered to finish fourth, while Wilson finished eighth. Downs found his glass half full after the finish, as he coaches Thorton and was happy to see him on the podium.

Men Masters 60-64 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity STTimeGap
1362PAISLEYScottMVC/Blue WheelCharlottesville VA44:39
2400BAXTERBarneyRaleigh NC45:0526
3359THORNTONJayLaguna Beach CA45:1940
4390DOWNSRobertWisconsin Cycling AssociationBelleville WI45:2950
5389THORSTROMRussellBoise ID45:3758
6374JOHNSONKevinEgenciaSilverdale WA46:021:23
7392CHITWOODTomTulsa OK46:231:44
8395WILSONJohnCorvallis OR46:341:55
9370TOWNERLawrenceBoonton NJ46:502:11
10364SOETAERTMartinAustin TX47:032:24
11380GENTESJimNorthern California/Nevada CyclSoquel CA47:102:31
12360YOUNGBradPorter Corners NY47:162:37
13357GRILLScottKetchum ID47:202:41
14385FABRISJoeWatsonville CA47:232:44
15353GOODWINDavidShutesbury MA47:563:17
16351CRAFTJeffreyTeam Lake EffectMadison OH48:003:21
17382STONETimBoulder CO48:263:47
18363PREHNThomasBoulder CO48:313:52
19399WILLCOXRobertUC Cyclery/JW FloorsSan Diego CA48:484:09
20375GRANTDaneTeam Roaring MouseSan Francisco CA48:494:10
21388SMITHGeorgeMenlo Park CA50:225:43
22401LONGMIREMichaelCorvallis OR40:12@1Lap
23356MCCLENAHANDavidWinthrop Harbor IL40:15@1Lap
24379CATALANOThomasHamilton MA41:05@1Lap
25378ZIMMERChipLake Quivira KS41:06@1Lap
26354BEARJanSanta Fe NM41:12@1Lap
27368HARKOLABillPen Velo Racing/Summit BicyclesSan Carlos CA41:22@1Lap
28352FOXAlbertDavis Bike Club Race TeamVacaville CA41:37@1Lap
29355EHLERWilliamGrand Junction CO41:40@1Lap
30365WINTERSFrankSusanville CA41:49@1Lap
31369ORTENBLADRickSanta Cruz CA41:51@1Lap
32376RAYMONDKevinVELOBODY / GERK'SSeattle WA42:19@1Lap
33386HOUCKEricLoveland CO42:40@1Lap
34361CORTHELLDavidAUDI RENO-TAHOEReno NV43:08@1Lap
35391BRYSONMarkSacramento Golden WheelmenSacramento CA43:33@1Lap
36371SADOFFPaulSanta Cruz CA43:58@1Lap
37372HEYERLeighTeam Velosport / Rock n Road CyRancho Santa Margarita44:05@1Lap
38366ROETMANRayZiaVelo CyclingLas Cruces NM44:11@1Lap
39398NORTHCraigAnn Arbor Velo Club Inc.Ann Arbor MI44:18@1Lap
40393SMITHAnthonyEl Dorado CA44:34@1Lap
41373SLAVONICJohnNevada City CA44:47@1Lap
42396FULCHERThomasWashington DC44:48@1Lap
43381BROWNJeffreyBoulder CO45:02@1Lap
44358BONDOliverAustin, TX45:03@1Lap
45383DEWOLFBillVallejo VA45:08@1Lap
46377SULLIVANMichaelSacramento CA48:32@1Lap
47394ERMANLairdBoise ID40:56@2Laps