by David Queen, photos by Janet Hill

In the Pacific Northwest we traditionally kick off our ‘cross season with the ASC Labor Day ‘Cross Championships in Seattle. Many cyclocross elitists have avoided this event in the past because of historically blasphemous warm weather. Many of us can’t fathom ‘cross when it is hot. most years this race is hot.

Seattle Cyclocross Labor Day Race, 2009, by Janet Hill.

Seattle Cyclocross drew racers of all ages and equipment. by Janet Hill

2009 brought a new course, and three days of welcomed rain brought wonderfully soggy conditions.  When the rain started Friday, riders pulled their rigs down from rafters, or up from basements, or out of closets and dusted them off and licked their chops. I even saw Rip Van Winkle had awakened from his ‘cross slumber and was tearing it up with the Master 4’s.

For many this race is a shake down ride for their new bikes, or a test for new wheels, or a chance to debut some tires acquired in the off-season. Dark clouds and on-and-off rain showers kept the course sloppy and slippery.  The day saw both ‘cross junkies desperate for their first “fix” of the season, and newbie riders drinking for the first time from the frothy mug of cyclocross. The mix of carbon frames and entry-level bikes and riders meshed together in typical Seattle fashion.  The day was a chance to get reacquainted with familiar faces and welcome in new people for the 2009 season.

The new course was a textbook mix of grass, singletrack, pavement, and a steep, but not too long run up. Like many competitors, I was thrilled to once again have mud on my shins, sweat on my face and the sweet taste of dirt on my teeth. Cyclocross, oh how I have missed you.

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