International field relishes day of muddy cyclocross in Lakewood

Charging up mud hill at Subaru Cup

International field digs the rain, course at Fort Steilacoom Park
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International field digs the rain, course at Fort Steilacoom Park

True cyclocross.

That’s how many of the pro racers who finished on the podium Saturday at Fort Steilacoom Park described the first day of racing at the Subaru Cyclo Cup.

Unrelenting rain created a soup of mud, sweat and suffering that delighted this peculiar breed of bicycle racers.

“I love it even though it is a dirty mess,” said Jonathan Page of New Hampshire as he tried to warm up after finishing third in the men’s pro race.

Cyclocross combines aspects of mountain and road biking and is staged on courses that typically consist of grass, asphalt, dirt and sand surfaces and include steep hills to run up and hurdles to clear. The racing season is in the fall and early winter, so rain and mud are commonplace.

And the muddier it gets, Page said, the more it favors experience.

The International Cycling Union event started at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with junior races and included 25 races (some held simultaneously) before concluding with the women’s pro race.

I love it even though it is a dirty mess

Jonathan Page, New Hampshire

A second day of racing starts Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with the pro women racing 2 p.m. and the pro men starting at 3 p.m.

Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic won the women’s race. Nash, who’s competed in the Winter Olympics for cross-country skiing and the Summer Olympics for mountain biking, is less than two months removed from winning the first World Cup race on U.S. soil.

“I don’t mind warmer,” she said, “but I like challenging courses, so today was good.”

Caroline Mani of France finished second, and Mical Dyck of Victoria, B.C., was third.

U.S. champion Logan Owen of Bremerton collected his first UCI win in the men’s race. The 20-year-old needed a little help from runner-up James Driscoll of Vermont and from Page to uncork the victory champagne.

“To do this (win) in front of the people I grew up racing cross against is really special,” said Owen, who took control about half way through the race and won by 28 seconds. “It was a really fun course.”

Zac Daab of Seattle-based Low Pressure Promotions and MFG Cyclocross said he was uncertain of the size of Saturday’s field, but he was pleased with the way the event was going.

“It was really good to see the quality field for the men,” said Daab, talking about the international field that included several national champions. “The course is pretty different this year. Last year was a sunny day and pretty flat and fast. … I think a lot of people were thinking maybe it wasn’t going to be that hard, but it is a pretty hard course today.”

Organizers planned to set a different course for Sunday’s race.