All Posts By

Robert Milligan

Woodland Park GP Race Report

By | 2018, Cyclocross

MFG’s Race #6 season-closer provided the colorful experience that brings out the ‘cross spectators and provides what racers seek: a challenging and technical course. Truth-be-told, many racers really pursue the glory and attention that is delivered by crowds of heckling fans, cheering and belching while providing local hand-up 1 treats from sidelines.

This race was held at the region’s favorite venue in Seattle, Woodland Park, characterized by a course that traverses under huge maple trees and has a forest floor piled with giant fallen maple leaves. The sounds of blaring horns, cowbells and screaming fans resonated perfectly throughout this forest, adding to the flavor of the day. The race also marked MFG Cyclocross’s 10th anniversary; many racers thanked organizers Terry Buchanan and Zac Daab for providing 10 years of fun and transformation of their lives.

This was a hard-working course for riders; they didn’t enjoy any level straight stretches where they could relax, mostly ups-and-downs that wound through the forest. There was just one gravel loop. The primary steep and tall dirt hill runup was walled with boisterous crowds, some in costumes. The hill was
topped with the Hodala Team tent. Despite non-stop goading by beckoning crowds, only a handful could survive the dirt run-up and remain in the saddle. Some brave riders took Hodala’s course detour and made it safely through their tent to enjoy their own brand of hand-up treats (hmm, or pretended too).

This race was attended by over 1,000 racers, several dozen of whom were hoping to capture their season titles and secure trophies that will be awarded at the MFG party on November 26 th . And there were some surprises. Another spectacle of the day was the Le Mans-style mass start for the nearly 100
single-speed men racers. Totally sick, mayhem and fun. And the over 70 kiddies and 130 youth captured midday attention, from the push-bikers tumbling over each other at a little barricade to the super-fast high schoolers, our next generation of national champions.

The women’s elite race was won by two-time national cyclocross champion, Mindy McCutcheon (DNA Cycling-Cotton Sox). She finished ahead of Heidi Franz (Rally Cycling) by 14 seconds. Placing third by another 45 seconds was 2017 cyclocross national champion, Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic
Associates). By a respectable margin, Monica captured the season championship title. In second was Mallory Nowels (Ten Speed Hero) and third, Stephanie Taplin (Indigenous Wheel Co Factory Racing Team). Locals will be rooting for these northwest heroines again when they compete in the USAC CX Nationals, December 16th in Louisville, KY.

The men’s elites’ race was a tactical puzzle, with leaders trading places five times in ten laps. Spencer Paxson (Kona Bikes) won over Steve Fisher (McGovern Cycles/FSA CX) by 2.4 seconds, third Calder Wood (Top Club Cyclocross) by another 2.5 seconds. Pure seasoned-racer competition was witnessed by the spectators. The season championships goes to Ian Tubbs (Audi) , with Adrian Magun (Apex Racing) taking 2nd , and Garrett Sczechowski (Dyna Racing) securing 3rd . Congrats all! Today’s was a great race, the perfect cap to a great season!

This race was sponsored by the Sub Pop Records, promoters of Seattle’s Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc. It originally had the name, Subterranean Records (1986), and was first conceived as a college project.

1 Hand-ups: The handing of food, drink or money to racers during cyclocross races as racers pass by, usually funny off-beat and silly. Mostly tasteful. Often hosted by loud and costumed spectators.

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot

Photos by Robert Milligan

North 40 CX p/b The Athletic Race Report

By | 2018, Cyclocross

Spectators were held in suspense for the men’s one-hour elite race at MFG’s No. 5 in the NW. They saw a modern-day David and Goliath battle. We’ll get back to this in a moment…

There are four legs that make up a great cyclocross race: venue (and racecourse), weather (rain, cold, mud?), racers (of all types), and spectators (and food vendors!) This race was held on the property of the famed Harold LeMay auto museum. Starting in the 1960’s, Harold began buying old cars and trucks. Today, his family estate manages the largest private collection of automobiles and trucks in the world, much of it stored in buildings on this property. While this course layout didn’t pass any gleaming antiques (stored indoors), it did traverse between unusual ancient and rusting trucks.

This race course had two tough hill climbs with soft dirt and round river rocks. The descents were separated by a forested slope with off-camber traverses and turns. Only a few could accomplish both climbs while mounted; most shouldered their bikes. One particularly valuable cyclocross skill on this course was ‘timing the pass’. As these descents were windy steep single tracks, one needed to ensure that a slower rider didn’t start the descent just ahead of you, else you’d be held back, confounding what would otherwise be a swift brake-tapping-only descent. Need to jump those riders before the descent.

The weather didn’t repeat last year’s early snowfall and a whited-out course. Though the early morning arrivals came through black clouds and heavy rain, just before the first start a magical sun peeked out and the clouds rolled back to the horizon. Another of Seattle’s reputation-defying days.

Some of the nearly 700 racers showed up aiming to elevate their rankings before the season closer, anxious to claim that season podium. Over 100 youth racers competed, including a cute little bunch of the next generation of racers – mounted on tiny push bikes. For the older teens, a high-stakes team battle formed. The seasoned and accomplished young racers from Cycle U‘s team lined on one side of the starting line. The other half was formed by a band of inner city kids from the Major Taylor Project (MTP) team, seemingly feeling intimidated, yet eager to start. The MTP works with Cascade Bicycle Club (largest club in the nation), to provide bikes and training to inner city kids who might not otherwise even be riding bikes. Really cool. On this day, over 30 MTP kids raced, an inspirational sight for all.

Back to the moment of the day, David vs. Goliath. The men’s elite race had many talented racers, but all eyes were on the reining champ Ian Tubbs (AUDI, age 47) and the upstart Adrian Magun (Apex Racing, age 14). Ian has an impressive elite racing background with many wins over eight years, including 4th place overall in this year’s brutal Dirty Kanza’s 200-mile gravel race. He’s got the muscle and wattage and is Adrian’s senior by 33 years. Adrian first climbed onto the podium at age 8 and has been ascending categories steadily every year. Adrian is a svelte figure, and quick as youth can be. This race was a duel waiting to happen. From the start of the elite race, these two launched to the front of the pack, trading places several times in five laps. Adrian’s stealthy frame would sneak past Ian on corners, and then Ian would power up his engine on the straights, drop a gear and pass Adrian. Many wondered if this would be Adrian’s first elite win. The spectators ran to lean over the fence by the finish line to watch Adrian cutting the final turn, shoulder-to-shoulder with Ian. Who would win? It was hard to tell who’d pull ahead, with both racers grimacing and wrestling their bikes with seeming abandon. And then, like a big-bore engine, amid the loud cheering and clanging bells, Ian opened valves wide and pulled ahead of Adrian, but only crossing the line by four-tenths of a second. Third place went to Brian Mccleerey (Ravenna Capital Management), another minute back. Great show, guys.

The women’s elite race was won handily by Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic Assoc). Just the day before, this 2017 national champion won the women’s elite race in Bend, Oregon, the USAC Cross Crusade. Before today’s race, she wondered how well she’d perform, but there was no question after the second lap as she pulled ahead, with a gap extending to a finish of 1.5 minutes ahead of Laura Jeddeloh (MD Endurance Coaching) in second place, and Stephanie Taplin (Indigenous Wheel Co.), another 1.5 minutes behind in third.

This race was sponsored by The Athletic, sharing their excellent socks with podium winners.

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot

Photos by Robert Milligan

Magnuson Park Cross p/b Nuun Race Report

By | 2018, Cyclocross

It was a cloudless 64-degree day with no wind and the terrain was dry. The wisest racers left their mud tires at home and mounted up file treads (“Oh darn, did I bring them?”). Eight hundred cyclocross competitors gathered at MFG’s race #4, held at Magnuson Park on the shores of Lake Washington near Seattle. This race course was mostly flat and fast, and featured one long but gentle gravel hill climb, with a grassy descent shortly before a bottom turn and the officials’ stage and finish line. Over the day, spectators watched the course grow even faster as elite talent rolled by, and then disappeared in a whoosh, bouncing across grass, dirt and gravel, and finally a paved section that passed the finish line,
where racers could unleash all their remaining energy into in all-out sprints.

This venue has its own distinctive look-and-feel, with a closed-off roadway running straight through all the teams’ and vendors’ tents. This layout breeds, almost enforces, social interaction, which is, after all, the main reason many racers come to cyclocross, isn’t that true? Threading through this little tent city made one feel like they were getting lost in a street bazaar. It really was a perfect circus where riders and visitors could walk along and touch or drool over a lineup of cool bikes, hung on racks. The calamity of people and bikes occasionally squeezed the roadway into a narrow alley. Racers could also sheepishly peek into team tents where recruiters were openly canvassing for new talent, and then pretend to ignore vendors showing off some of their latest bike tech products. And finally, all could smell and
consume from the various aromatics of peddled food items (not pedaled), for sale from the food trucks.

As mentioned, nearly 800 racers turned out, including 119 youth, large fields of women, and a brave group of 33 beginner women and 49 beginner men. Top finishers of the elite men were Spencer Paxson (Kona Bicycles), with Steve Fisher (Mcgovern Cycles / FSA CX) 42 seconds behind, and Derek Parsons (Cliff Bar) another 38 seconds behind. Fourth place was an exciting high-speed sprint finish tie between Garrett Sczechowski (Dyna Racing) and 14-year-old Adrian Magun (Apex Racing).

The women’s elite was won by Mindy McCutcheon (DNA Cotton Sox), who led by 19 seconds after the first lap, holding that gap evenly until the last lap, beating second-place Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic Assoc) by 18 seconds. Trailing Monica’s wheel almost the entire race until the last lap was Stephanie Taplin (Indigenous Wheel Co.), who finished 36 seconds behind for third.

This race was sponsored by NUUN, who shared their cool hats with podium winners. Most competitors loved this race day, especially when that familiar digital lap counter at the finish line flashed its big letters, “YOU’RE ALL DONE!”

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot

Leavenworth Cyclocross Trophae p/b MIIR Race Report

By | 2018

Leavenworth was the venue for two days of cyclocross racing on September 22-23, starting with a NW CX Cup, a USAC-sanctioned race, and the next day MFG’s second race of the season. This venue was distinguished by some interesting features. First, it ranks as the most distant MFG race, a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle. Racers braving this were rewarded by an authentic Bavarian village, known for well-stocked beer pubs and authentic brauts, everything a cyclocross racer would enjoy. And many crashed there, overnight that is.

But perhaps the most interesting feature of the Leavenworth venue was its boast worthy race elevation gain. This isn’t referring to its meager 1200’ altitude (unlike Boulder’s mile high), but its cumulative vertical feet a rider recorded during each race. Completing six laps would show 2,000’ of gain.

When arriving and setting up at the base of this hill (appropriately named, “Ski Hill”), peering up, one could spy riders climbing testing out the steep inclines, some able to stay in the saddle, others shouldering bikes, but all clearly digging deep. Slopes to the right must have been a beginner skill hill, where a rope tow comes out when there’s snow. Back on the left, one could imagine a chairlift. Racers that day lamented the challenge (or crowed their feats) and shared various techniques for staying in the saddle during the climbs and not dismounting.

The women’s elite race featured several of our top NW racers, including cyclocross national champion Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic Associates), taking a commanding lead early and capturing first place by three minutes over Stephanie Taplin (Indigenous Wheel Co.). Third place was Laura Jeddeloh (MD Endurance Coaching).

The men’s elite races were closer, but slowly stretched out as the hills ate away chasers and pacers, leaders demonstrating sheer hill-climbing quadricep strength. Kevin Bradford-Parish (Set Coaching/FSA) topped the podium with nearly a two-minute lead over Derek Parsons (Cliff Bar), and followed in third by Ian Tubbs (Audi), just ten seconds behind.

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot

Lake Sammamish GP p/b Planet Box Race Report

By | 2018

How would you like to ride your bike through nearly a mile of soft sand as fast as you can? Are we talking about cyclocross racing? Yes, and it happened at Lake Sammamish State Park (east of Seattle) on September 8 and 9, at MFG’s trademark Northwest cyclocross racing season-opener. The mega sand was the headliner for this venue and clearly what everyone was talking about. “Did you ride it or run it?”, was the refrain.

This entirely flat race course was used for the double-header racing weekend promoted by MFG Cyclocross. Day one was the first NW CX Cup series race for USAC-sanctioned racing, for racers earning points. And day two was MFG Cyclocross’s first of their six-race series. And that sand thing? How much sand? NW CX Cup had three sand pits along the beach totaling over 600’ and separated by three quick grassy interludes and barricades. How many laps? Elite racers rode eight laps, 4,800’, or 9/10ths of a mile! Less than one-half was ridden, the rest run, and later in the day many were seen walking as they exited.

Top leaders of USAC-sanctioned NW CX Cup Men’s Open (elite) 1-2-3 finishers were Derek Parsons of Cliff Bar, David Howard of Tenspeed Hero, and Garrett Sczechowski of Dyna Racing. The Women’s Open (elite), 1-2-3 finishers were Monica Lloyd of Olympia Orthopaedic Assoc., Ivy Audrain of Speedvagen Factory Racing Team, and Karine Valliantsaunders of Liquid Velo. Turnout out NW CX Cup was 221 racers, 50’s and gray skies, but after the word spread about the cyclocross beach party, turnout for MFG Cyclocross was over 746 riders, who enjoyed racing on the beach under blue skies and 65 degrees.

MFG Cyclocross’s leaders in the Women’s Elite 1-2-3 were Mindy McCutcheon, Meredith Miller of RCCBDR, and Monica Lloyd of Olympia Orthopaedic Assoc. Men’s Elites 1-2-3 were Michael Van Den Ham of Garneau-Easton P/B Transitions Life Ca., Steve Fisher of McGovern Cycles/FSA CX, and Stephen Mull.

Next year, bring your bikini kit!

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot

Mooca Liets Veldrijden p/b Rapha Seattle Race Report

By | 2018

MFG’s #3 cyclocross race was held at Ft. Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, Washington on September 30th. This is a favorite venue for many locals and there’s always a large turnout. Riders this day enjoyed comfortable mild temps, overcast and only a few sprinkles. No mud. Even more racers were lured by a bigger reason: In anticipation of this being the venue for the 2019 USAC Cyclocross Nationals, many out-of-town racers showed up to check it out, journeying from California, Oregon, Montana and Utah.

Over the years, various configurations of race courses have been presented here, each offering their own flavor of either gut-busting hills, or adrenaline-filled descents, engineered to challenge all riders’ fitness and bike handling skills. Planning for the 2019 CX NATS, MFG tested multiple layouts during the race day, rapidly rerouting the course between races. Adjustments were made first on technical descents to ensure safety for less experienced riders, then afterwards in reverse to fulfill the thirst for serious technical challenges the elite riders desire, by opening up near-vertical dirt hill climbs and unwrapping steep and twisty drops back down to the valley floor.

It’s uncommon for a cyclocross venue to be reconfigured midday, even considering the 2019 prospects, but this switcheroo actually allowed the more than 600 racers to experience challenges more closely scaled to their skill levels. Nearly all course layouts receive a few complaints, but on this day none were heard, just plenty of praises emerging from dirty-faced smiles.

The elite races were well-attended, with fields of 23 men and 14 women. Elite masters men had 39 racers. Over seven laps, the top 12 elite men hung together within seven seconds for the first two laps, but by lap number five, Steve Fisher (McGovern Cycles / FSA CX) pulled away with a commanding lead, finishing first with a 40-second gap. In second place was Robert Cummings (Mettle Cycling), and third place at twelve seconds behind went to Ian Tubbs (Audi).

The women’s elite race first place was taken by Anna Megale (Team UpCycle). Close behind in second place by 1.7 seconds was Monica Lloyd (Olympia Orthopaedic Associates), and in third just under four minutes back was Gina Estep (Thrive). The next five racers were closely matched, all within about a minute of each other.

And did anyone know what the title of this race means? Steilacoom spelled backwards, plus “veldruden”, in Flemish means “field riding”.

Photos by Geoffrey Crofoot