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By LeRoi Smith
Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Hagens-Berman) and Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles) emerged triumphant on Sunday as the Seattle Cyclocross series visited a gooey course at the Bremerton fairgrounds.
With several inches of rain in the week leading up to the race and many local rivers on flood watches, the course was already wet. Sunday began with showers that diminished as the day wore on, and as temperatures reached the low 50s the conditions created a course to test nearly every ’cross skill in the book.
The start was unconventional — a gentle descent on gravel, transitioning onto a field and around a question-mark curve into the first of two sets of double barriers. After negotiating the planks, the racers contended with the first leg-draining boggy lawn.
Several greasy U-turns later, the course wound through the barns that are the signature feature of the fairgrounds course. Flying through the second barn, racers approached the second set of barriers with a full head of steam. A remount and tricky grass-to-pavement transition marked the end of the barnyard section and the beginning of a mountain biker’s delight.
A short section of fresh-cut wide single track rolled to a sweeping right hand plunge onto buttery smooth trail. The heavy forest cover kept this stretch tacky but not slick, and riders used the great traction to fly through the twists, turns, ups, and downs before finally returning to the fairgrounds proper at a hill that some rode while others ran.
Descending past the double-sided pits, the racers flew headlong into a quarter mile of soggy, boggy grass. The power-draining abyss ended in a short but deceptively difficult hill that completed the lap.
In the elite men’s race, McDonald and Steve Fischer (Rad Racing) pushed the pace early, moving off the front of a group missing some of the usual suspects, but containing Morgan Schmidt (Bissell).
McDonald dropped Fischer early in the race, preferring to go it alone. Fischer drifted back to meet a bridging Giancarlo Dalle-Angelini (Redline Bicycles) and the two began chasing.
Unfortunately for them, McDonald had closed the door behind him and would extend his gap all the way to the finish line. Dalle-Angelini finally dislodged Fischer to take second while Fischer held off the hard-charging Nathan Bannerman (Bicycle Centers-Collision 1) for third.
With previous race winners Ann Knapp (Kona) and Kristi Berg (Redline Bicycles) absent, the elite women’s field appeared to be a showdown between Jadine Riley (Team Group Health) and Ingrid Spies (Recycled Cycles).
However, someone forgot to tell both Lyndon-Griffith, who pushed past Spies and Riley, who suffered a mechanical. In the end, Lyndon-Griffith rose to the top of the heap, Spies worked into the second spot, and Riley rounded out the podium.
For complete results, see www.seattlecyclocross.com.