The sixth and penultimate event of the Seattle Cyclocross series took place this last Sunday at Sprinker Park, down in the South Sound town of Spanaway. South it may be, but the weather was far from southern, as the frigid night temperatures moderated only slightly beneath a wan autumn sun, a sun progressively dimmed by the vanguard of the cloud banks conveying the next week’s rain. The early morning SCX set-up crew found a parking lot covered in black ice, and the first wave at 9:15 would set off across still-rimy grass.
This was the fourth year a race has been held at Sprinker Recreation Center, a course developed after the loss of previous venues such Donida Farm, Kelly Creek Farm, and South Seatac Park. Though it has the advantage of parking aplenty, the venue’s limitations – available terrain confined to a narrow greenbelt surrounding baseball diamonds and soccer fields – have required considerable experimentation and ingenuity on the part of course designers to transform a difficult site into an acceptable cyclocross course, and this edition continues the progress of the work. With long stretches of tarmac and straight lines on grass to their advantage, the power riders were hampered only by a single set of double barriers and a pair of forced trots up short embankments. Dan Norton’s signature style of multiple hairpin turns required some cornering skill and power, but only the neophytes found much of a challenge in the couple of gentle off-camber sections and the downhill sandpile.
With Alex the Red at the helm of the trusty Recycled Cycles Sprinter van, the RCR setup crew arrived to find a couple of spots still available for parking and tents relatively close to all the important features, such as the registration tent, the start line, and the sanitation stations. Shivering in the morning chill despite multiple layers, it seemed hard to believe that just a few weeks earlier we had been basking in the sun of a prolonged Indian summer.
With the inclement weather, the travel distance, and various extra-curricular obligations, participation did not achieve the heights of previous weeks. Nonetheless, the hardened core of cyclocross enthusiasts were present and accounted for.
Taking the line in the first wave, Rob set off on an excursion through the frosty wonderland to finish well in the top half despite finding his way impeded by a fair amount of cyclocross slapstick on the part of the other folks in lycra clown suits. His efforts done, his real work began as Rob fired up the grill for the first batch of links and sliders furnished by our grand meat sponsor Bill the Butcher, purveyor of fine meat products from all-natural locally-raised beef.
With long-time RCR-board-member-and-cx-stalwart Tyler stepping down from the Supreme Council after years of valiant service, Rob’s stepping into his galoshes to take on the responsibility for managing Team RCR’s vast financial holdings, and he looks forward to visiting the Cayman Islands in the near future (note to the IRS: that’s a joke – we know of no cyclocross races in the Cayman Islands).
The early arrivals for the later races had plenty of time for lollygagging and strolling the course beneath the pallid sun as the next wave went off, bereft of blue-and-gold jerseys.
The elite categories took off at noon, with Alex joining the open 1/2 field. The generally flat course with its low degree of technical challenge didn’t play to Alex’s advantage in a stacked field easily dominated by international-class sub-23 rider Zack McDonald, but he still managed to hang on to his 9th place in the series rankings.
The 13:30 contingent was up next, David taking the line amongst the single-speeders, Andrew starting with the Cat 3 45+ crowd, while Beth and Julie sped along in hot pursuit with the rest of the elite women’s field. David had his best result of the season with a 5th place that sits him nicely in 6th place for the single-speed series. Beth almost closed her minute handicap on Andrew, dashing home for a 5th place on the day and a solid grasp on the sixth spot in the general classification for the elite women.
The final event of the day beneath an overcasting sky saw five Recyclers line up at the start of the open Cat 3 race. Nick A took advantage of a course more suited to his characteristics to open a gap on Nick B, the latter still managing to cling to his top-10 series placing. Returning to the races as a newlywed, Liam pedaled his velocipede of bright orange beneath matching foliage for his first race as a Cat 3, managing to hold off NewCarl’s valiant pursuit, while Jeff chased around after racers young enough to call him “sir”.
And then the burgers were on their way to their final resting place, the tents folded and loaded with the grill, and the van was north-bound. But we’ll be out next Sunday for the finale of the Seattle Cyclocross series at the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe WA. The double points on offer should make for fierce battles as racers struggle to shuffle the series standings in their favor.
As ever, we extend our gratitude to the wonderful folks at our long-time title sponsor Recycled Cycles and bicycle partner Raleigh Bikes for making this all possible; Schwalbe Tires helps keep us rolling along, Bill the Butcher meets our after-party protein needs, with pre-race glycogen top-ups supplied by PowerBar energy gels.