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”.