In recent years, the mid-Puget Sound region has confirmed its status as a hotspot of US cyclocross, supporting not one but two race series that combine to assure racers their weekly fix of cx, with a couple of double-headers thrown in for good measure. This last Sunday, the MFG series drew to a close with its season finale at Woodland Park in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle, an actual honest-to-goodness in-city race that drew close to 900 participants throughout the day, along with throngs of spectating family, friends, and passersby.
The course designers took advantage of the size of the park and its varied terrain to lay out a fun course that offered a mix of pain and flow, as racers sped through open meadows on gravel tracks and grassy arcs that lead to woodland paths winding beneath the autumnal foliage. This year’s innovation forced riders to dismount before a set of wooden steps which led to a decision fork: would it be better to keep running to the top of next embankment with its mid-slope log, or should they remount and attempt to hop the aforementioned log for the entertainment of the spectating throngs and their own potential advantage. Though the course lacked the wheel-trapping bogs of previous editions, handling skills found themselves tested by sweeping off-camber loops through the fallen leaves, and speed sections that snaked among the trees while crossing the dirt-tarmac boundary.
The urban location prompted a good turnout of Recyclers throughout the day, with the usual crew augmented by some who couldn’t pass up the opportunity for great racing with little travel, and some more who came to cheer. With Busto at the wheel, the trusty Recycled Cycles brought over the tents, the grill, and the Raleigh carbon demo bikes, while Rob picked up our weekly supply of all-natural organic grillables from Bill the Butcher, purveyor of fine meat products from locally-sourced grass-fed beef. The rain held off, as temperatures remained in the upper 40sF (8-10C), allowing the hardy to remain in shorts.
Rebecca got things off to an early morning start with the Cat 4 women, turning in a sparkling fourth place that put her on the third step of the podium in the series final classification.
In the next wave, regulars Rob and Rip, along with neophyte Ben, joined one hundred and sixteen other men in the open Cat 4 field to form an enormous lycra snake that eventually swallowed a bit of its own tail. A fun time was had by all, including the park-dwelling members of Sciurus carolinensis who all managed to dodge Rob’s wheels of squirrel-death. Eric had it a little easier among the veterans in the Cat 3 55+ field, finishing ninth on the day and claiming fifth place in the final overall standings, in a field dominated by the ever-young Cosmic Miller.
Things got busy in the third wave as five Recyclers joined the cat 1/2 women’s field. Joined by Julie, Jamie, Liz, and Ali, Beth led the Blue-and-Gold charge, finishing with a sixth place that solidified her claim on the third step for the series podium. Julie was happy to be in the mix, taking advantage of the climbs to scoot past some of her regular rivals for an eighth place on the day. Recent upgrade Jamie rode the last race with the 1/2 field to pick up some experience following the fast wheels; but she must be well on her way to pretty fast, as she already had a lock on the Cat 3 women’s series WIN. Allez Jamie! Liz and Ali had a fun day in the park, as did Andrew among the Cat 3 45+ men, while Kevin and Carl joined sixty-two fellow racers in the Cat 3 35+ field.
Noon was family hour, as Julie’s son Sam hammered away among the Juniors boys, while Jamie’s husband Mark got some more exposure to the cyclocross bug with the novice men. Meanwhile, there was grass-fed meat on the barbie, as the Raleigh demo bikes were on the grass. In cooperation with Raleigh Bikes and MFG, we’ve been able to make a set of carbon cross velocipedes available in a variety of sizes for testing purposes under real live cyclocross conditions.
The afternoon saw the start of the open Cat 3 men, with the dual Nick attack of Nicks A and B, joined by Jeff, Erik, and Liam and fifty other cyclocrossers for forty-five minutes of pain and entertainment. Though he felt as if he had a somewhat [unsatisfactory] day, Nick B still managed to rack up enough points to hold onto a fourth place in the final series standings. Following a minute behind the Cat 3 men came a horde of ninety-five single-speed men. David felt he had his best race of the series, putting the hurt to his nemeses. He was joined by Rob for his second race of the day, the new-born aficionado of single-speed still managing to avoid rodenticide on his second go-round. And Busto tore himself away from academic pursuits to put in a rare appearance on his old stomping grounds, going 1 for 3 on bunnyhops but managing 3 for 3 on post-race frankfurter ingestion.
In the day’s elite headliner , the remaining Recyclers gathered at the runup to cheer on Alex as he expended himself with a valiant effort in a pro/1/2 field stacked with out-of-town talent from as far away as Bellingham, Bend, and Vancouver, eh.
Thus concludes the MFG series for 2011; thanks to Terry, Zac, Rich, and the rest of the MFG crew for an outstanding series. Complimenti and felicitaties to Jamie on her win! But cyclocross isn’t done yet for the year, as we still have two scx series events and the state champeenships. Recyclers will be doing it all over again next week down in the South Sound at Spanaway’s Sprinker Park. As ever, we extend our gratitude to our long-time title sponsor Recycled Cycles and bicycle partner Raleigh Bikes for making this all possible; Schwalbe Tires helps us keep the rubber side down, and Bill the Butcher keeps us in post-race protein, with glycogen top-ups supplied by PowerBar energy gels.