Hang on tight cuz it’s blowing hard

29 09 2011

Seattle-area cyclocrossers gathered last Sunday at Marymoor Park for the opening event of the 2011 Seattle Cyclocross series beneath unexpected sunshine, courtesy of the high winds that drove the storm clouds before they had much of a chance to unload their cargo of moisture. But any unanchored tents were at risk of suddenly sailing across the parking lot, while the normal race-day hubbub was periodically punctuated by the percussive vibration of the course marker tape whipped into harmonic oscillation.

The course had been knit around the Marymoor velodrome, reprising some lines well-known to veterans of the Seattle cyclocross scene. Long straight sections outside the velodrome grounds led into a twisting maze of yellow tape that rose and fell along the velodrome’s exterior embankment, in a mix of off-camber swerves and swooping hair-pin turns. A summer under the sun had roughened the dry ground into a knobby and rutted surface that rattled and jarred joints and bones. Two pairs of barriers forced riders from their bikes: one set at the end of a stretch of tarmac required a dismount at speed; the other, placed right after a hairpin turn, forced the riders to a near-halt as they tried to hop off before the impending encounter with a large piece of wood; not all attempts met with success.

The Recycled Cycles crew had set up early enough to score a prime piece of real estate along the course close to the start line. The mounting wind forced an early removal of some banners that threatened to become sails, and we soon had to anchor the tents to the Recycled Cycles van with a variety of ad hoc lashing.

Ready to go sailing

First to set off from the RCR contingent, Tyler represented in the ever-growing Cat. 4 Men’s field, winding up with a mid-pack finish, but happy with the improvement in his sensations produced by his increased training load. His race done, he fired up the barbie for the first round of sliders from Bill the Butcher’s grass-fed organic beef.

Tyler, hurt those pedals!

Team members drifted in over the course of the day as the event progressed through its schedule. Ian, though not racing, spun over on his road bike and lent a valuable pair of hands in support during the day, schlepping wheels to the pit, helping to anchor the tent, ringing bells… Julie arrived with young Sam in tow for his cyclocross intiation with the 10-12 junior field. Alex showed the RCR colors in the noontime 1/2 race, while his lady friend performed yeoman’s service with the tent anchoring crew.

The 1:30pm race featured six different fields, with the largest rcr participation of the day: David showed off the blue-and-gold amongst the single-speed crowd, his kit accessorized by some awesome skin ink; at the start line for another season with the Cat 3 45+ men, Andrew spotted a few faces remaining from the old Master B days; Beth and Julie joined the Cat 1/2 women’s field, and Jamie took up the challenge with the Cat 3 Women. The black wall of cloud which had been threatening off-stage southeast finally arrived to hide the sun; the cold drops began to spatter jerseys, raising gooseflesh and shivers among an under-dressed crowd. But a lap into the race, the clouds passed, the sun was out, and though we were all wet, ’twas in a good way.
At the end of the first lap, Andrew barely managed to get out of Beth’s way as she muscled through the old men on her way to a convincing win in the women’s field, while Julie hung tough for a ninth-place finish. Sent off a mere thirty seconds after the start of an overstuffed masters field, the elite women had had to thread their way through the whitebeards before moving on to overtake the graybeards. Jamie overcame some tangles with the terrain to finish with an excellent showing in fifth place among the Cat 3 women, though ruing the mishaps that pushed a potential spot on the podium just out of reach.

The closing race of the day beneath the increasing sunshine featured the men’s open Category 3 field, with CarlA and NickB.

Carl gets ready to high step

Racing around the course amid a select cluster of riders, Nick improved on his showing of the previous week with a seventh spot on the results board.

Nick puts rubber's coefficient of friction to the dirt test

As all the fun and excitement was taking place out on the parcours, the post-race post-mortem and hoedown was going strong back at the tents, fuelled by some more grilled meat from Bill the Butcher, and whatever else folks happened to bring. Finally, it was time to stow everything back into the truck and leave planet cx for the trip back to Earth.

Next Sunday, October 2nd, come on out to North Bend as the fun resumes with the MFG race presented by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We’ll have the fleet of Raleigh demo bikes on hand for a test-drive under real racing conditions.

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