Try to remember back in September, the cross season started in sunshine and dust. But La Niña lay in wait; after weeks of rain and mud, today she brought the first onslaught of winter, a summons to Harden TFU! and be worthy of (New) Belgium.
The trusty RCR van brought the glorious RCR setup crew down to Tacoma just in time for the first snow flurries at 8am. The tents were put up in record time, the van wheeled into place to serve as a wind break. Then we all stood around shivering as body heat seeped away despite multiple layers.
Sprinker park has now hosted a Seattle Cyclocross series event three years running, and this year’s course designers made significant improvements over previous editions, using more of the available terrain to lay out a fast and challenging course. Long stretches of pavement combined with off-road sections of slippery grass, rock-strewn dirt, and off-camber turns challenged racers to find the most suitable tires and pressure. The single set of barriers allowed a fast approach that advantaged riders who could dismount at speed and remount on the downslope into a turn. Fist-sized rocks proved a menace to under-inflated clinchers, and a sandy embankment trapped the unwary racers who tried to ride, but lacked the speed, power, accuracy, and commitment to bull their way up the slope and through the soft surface at the top.
Despite the inclement weather, the usual stalwart crew of hard-core Recylocrossers came out to represent the Blue and Gold. Though we may have shivered during the eternal wait at the startline after pealing off the fleece and windbreakers, no one missed those superfluous layers once the race was off at full throttle.
With an aggressive start through the early morning snow gusts, Liam showed off his retro recycling jersey of genuine sheep-grown fabric, placing 5th on the day and claiming a 5th place in the series rankings.
The weather cleared for the elite noon race, dominated by a youthful trio led by rising star Zack McDonald; RCR’s own Carl “Smash” Hulit persevered to hang onto his third place in the series scorecard.
The snowfall resumed for the afternoon races, though the ground hadn’t become cold enough for the white stuff to stick. Eric Mamroth fought his way through the adverse weather to cross the line in 3rd place among the grizzled veterans of the cat 3 55+ field, staking a claim to a 3rd place in the current series rankings. Your humble correspondant salvaged a rather ordinary season by winning a six-pack of New Belgium Ranger IPA in the post-race raffle.
As the wind whipped the thickening fall of snow crystals, and spectators retreated to the shelter of the team tents, caravans, or fled the scene entirely, Nick Brown defied the worsening conditions for a ninth place among the cat 3 men, a heck of a job that rewarded his consistency with a tie for first place in the series rankings.
The Raleigh RX1.0 demo bikes were put to more good use, as some novice racers were able to see what a topflight cyclocross bicycle could do for them out on the course. Next week will be your last opportunity to test ride one of these outstanding bikes under Real Cyclocross Conditions; stop by the Recycled Cycles tent with your pedals and a driver’s licence. And of course you can check them out any time during opening hours at Recycled Cycles, in Seattle’s University District.
His race done, Tyler – our driver, chief cook, and bottle washer – fired up the grill to serve out some more fabulous sliders provided by our stellar food sponsor Bill the Butcher, purveyor of organic meat products from local growers committed to natural and ethical operations. Stop by for a sample next week when we’ll be at the Monroe Fairgrounds for the season closer of the Seattle Cyclocross series. With double points on offer, RCR podium challengers will be ready to throw down!