by Kenton Berg and Evan Schmitt
TACOMA, WASHINGTON — Cold, crisp skies and temps hovering near 25 degrees greeted riders at race number six of the Seattle Cyclocross series. The Sprinker Recreation Center, outside of Tacoma, Washington, hosted the race under the watchful eye of Mount Rainier. While last year’s race had snow flurries, this year had clear skies along with a course full of twists and turns and three barriers sections to keep the riders shuffling on and off their bikes.
In the men’s Elite race, a group of three rode away on the first lap and would eventually decide the race on their own. In the group was Logan Owen (Redline), Steve Fisher (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing) and Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus). The three spent the first few laps extending their lead and casually chatting about Facebook, Twitter, girls and other non-race topics as they gapped the field with ease. At about two laps to go, the fireworks began and Fisher was the first rider to fall off the pace. With one lap to go, McDonald made his decisive move and produced a five-second gap on Owen that he would hold until the finish line. John Christian Flack (Olympia Orthopedic) would come in fourth and Morgan Schmitt (Cyclocrossracing.com) would round out the podium in fifth.
The women’s Elite race played out as most have this year. Six ladies would be in contention from the start and it would be several laps before a clear leader would emerge. Jessica Cutler (Cucina Fresca), Natasha Hernday (Mafia Racing), Lea Stralka (Ragnorak), Mel Lewis (CycleU-PopCap), Marsa Daniel (Group Health) and Kristi Berg (CycleU-PopCap) all got off to a fast start and by lap two they were working their way through the men’s master field. Cutler would get a small gap on lap three over Hernday and Stralka while the others chased behind. The gap would grow, slowly but steadily, until the finish as Cutler would hold on to prevail. Hernday couldn’t cross the 20-second gap to Cutler and took second while Daniel poured it on late to pass Stralka for third.
Next Sunday, the 27th, the Seattle series concludes at the fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington. Double points will be on the line to reward riders who have stuck with their racing this far into the season and the final race will have title implications for both the men’s and women’s Elite categories. Following the conclusion of the series the Washington State Cyclocross championships will be run on December 4th in Arlington, Washington. For full results go to www.seattlecyclocross.com.
Gallery by Janet Hill: