The late blast of summer heat and sunshine gave way to gray skies and drizzle in time for the Rapha Grand Prix on September 18, the Sunday conclusion to a weekend double-header of cyclocross which had begun with Saturday’s Starcrossed; headlined by UCI-sanctioned races for elite men and women, both days also featured a set of opening races for a mix of amateur categories and age-groups.
Set in a state park by the silvan shores of Lake Sammamish, east of Seattle, the course snaked its way among the trees on rain-slicked grass and mud, with a few tight curves to trap the unwary, before heading to the lake-front where two sections along the strand compelled racers to hoof it through the sand.
The Recycled Cycles Racing crew had set up base camp in a prime space in the vendor section along the course, where we featured the Raleigh demo carbon cross bikes. The RCR ladies squad showed up in force, bringing offspring and canines to add a welcome family ambiance to the tents.
And we were happy to have the tents beneath the changeable weather, with intervals of drizzle giving way to the occasional sun-break.
The women got things off to a bang-up start with Rebecca’s win in the Cat. 4 women’s field.
Then RCR owned the podium in the master women’s race with Beth, Julie, and Liz finishing 1-2-3 while Ali rode hard to finish just out of the top ten.
Eric watched Beth cruise by him as he rode to a 6th place in the Cat 3 55+ men’s field.
The next set of waves saw Carl start with the Cat 3 Men 35+, Andrew with the Cat 3 Men 45+, and Jamie with the Cat 3 Women. Andrew thinks he has never seen a field that big; thanks to the sand, he was able to make his way from the back of the pack to the middle of the field. Jamie added to the women’s successful showing with a 6th place.
RCR’s last representation for the day was furnished by Nick B who claimed a 10th place amongst the Cat 3 men, and Busto who lined up with 76 (!) other single speeders in a stacked field dominated by Craig Etheridge and the Fountain Brothers.
The amateurs done for the day, we got to kick back and watch the pros conduct master classes in power and style. Katarina Nash rode away from the women, while the Belgian duo of former World Champion Bart Wellens and his up-and-coming teammate Rob Peeters dropped the hammer on the men, leaving current US champion Todd Wells and former multiple champion Jonathan Page well behind.
RCR’s next rendez-vous with the mud takes place on Sunday September 25, as the SCX series kicks off for the 2011 season.