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 Robert Milligan