Throughout the 2019 cyclocross season, Don Myrah (Ibis / Buy-Cell) and Christopher Peck (Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club) battled on the cyclocross course in NorCal. This week, they took their rivalry up the coast to Lakewood Nationals for the biggest Masters cyclocross battle of them all.
Early on in Thursday's Masters Men 50-54 race, Myrah and Peck found themselves opposing each other in a group that also included Paul Bourcier (TNCF Legal p/b West End Bikes) and Christoph Heinrich (KUHL Cycling Team). A lap later, the group was down to three, with Myrah, Peck and Bourcier squaring off against each other.
Myrah, the defending champion, went on the attack at the start of the third lap and put the pressure on his rivals. After the first run-up and following descent, Myrah got an advantage when one of the trio slowed up momentarily. Calling on his years of experience, he attacked to exploit the opportunity. Myrah's advantage grew to 14 seconds at the bell.
In the last lap, Myrah kept things smooth and upright to capture his second-straight Masters 50-54 title.
"Chris, who got second, we have been battling all season. He lives in the same area that I do," Myrah said. "I know with him as soon as I get a gap on him, that’s the time to go."
NorCal in the Pacific Northwest
The Masters Men 50-54 race was the penultimate championship race of Thursday afternoon's slate. Reno Nationals champ Christoph Heinrich and David Hildebrand (Trek Cyclocross Collective) got things started by leading the charge down the start straight and toward the first run-up.
The two fast starters kept their lead up the run-up, and when they dropped back to the lower part of the course for the first time, they held a small gap on the chasers. Lining up behind them was a string of riders that included Tim Faia (Trek Collective Cyclocross), Omar Dickenson (Sonic Boom Racing), Christopher Peck, Sean Haidet (Schnur Racing) and Scott Daubert (Trek Cyclocross Collective).
Once off the descent, Heinrich continued to stay on the attack, leading into the second muddy run-up. Behind him a mass of 10-plus riders gave chase.
The climb to the top of the orchard following the run-up helped shake things out, and coming back down the second chute, Heinrich led by 3 seconds, and Paul Bourcier, Peck, Myrah and Hildebrand gave chase. At the end of the first lap, the lead group became Heinrich, Myrah, Peck and Bourcier.
In the first half of the second lap, Heinrich's hot start started to take a toll, and he began to tail gun the lead group of four. Following the second chute descent, the lead group was down to the trio of Peck, Myrah and Bourcier. Peck dangled at the end of the second of four laps, but he again made contact at the end of the long start/finish straight.
With the four-lap race slated to come in around 40 minutes and conditions getting slicker, there was no time to play games at the front. Myrah led up the first run-up and took over the lead position heading down the rutted descent. He soon found himself with a gap.
"I wasn’t trying to attack," he said after the race. "I went down the downhill pretty fast and one of the guys behind me, I think, had a little mishap. I noticed I had a gap so as soon as it opened I just figured, well, its time to go."
Go he did, and at the end of that penultimate lap, a lead of a few bike lengths became 14 seconds. With Myrah's experience—four Elite national championships and several Masters Nationals wins—the chasers had their work cut out for them.
Myrah stayed steady and strong to keep the chasers away and take his second-straight Masters 50-54 win.
"Its a really taxing race so you kind of have to dole out your effort," he said. "Not go too hard too soon, but keep a steady effort."
Peck and Bourcier stayed wheel-to-wheel in the last lap, until Peck got a small advantage when Bourcier went to the pit for a fresh bike. Peck held that gap to take second, and Bourcier finished third. Heinrich and Victor Sheldon rounded out the wide-angle podium.
For more from the Masters Men 50-54 race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Don Myrah: Masters Men 50-54 Winner Interview