Another Brick in "The Wall"
The fourth installment of the 2009 Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series was welcomed by warm sunshine and blue skies, which was the complete opposite of the Halloween race which was cold and muddy. Another record crowd for MSG in race # 4, 173 entries and another first for MSG, was playing host to an SEC Collegiate Series Race! This being the first year of an SEC conference series turnout was light but competition was fierce. With local ETSU rider, Gregory Kaufman, winning the Collegiate C race.The much and anticipated Redline run up made it’s fourth appearance in the six years that Winged Deer Park has hosted our event. The run up also known as "The Wall" is one of the most feared features of any MSG course feature, at 25′ long, 45 degree angle just running up it a few times beats you down, and riding it, nearly impossible! New features included the "Drop" and "Ring Around the Oak Tree". Aside from the three technical features of the course the rest of the course was wide, with sweeping turns that required now braking, just railing through. This should have provided much need recovery however the pace was so high "you had to stay on the gas the whole time"
To encourage riders to attempt to ride the run up, two subscriptions to Cyclocross Magazine, an MSG sponsor, were on the line. At the top of the run up crowds gathered under the Lynskey tent , maned by Lynskey rep Michael Viertal who also one the CX4 race, and behind the Cyclocross Magazine banner to ring bells and yell at riders attempting the challenge. Time after time, MSG DJ Carroll Pleasant, chided rider’s for failed attempts as the became "Just another brick in the Wall". Eventually two riders were able to best the Wall and snag the subscriptions,one on single speed! One of the event directors was later seen seeding the run up with dollar bills to tempt riders who failed to pedal to the summit to grab some cash before being caught by pursing riders.
By far the most exiting race of the day was the Masters 35+ race. Soon after the start, a heated battle erupted as a 3 man break left the 27 man Masters field. The run up became the key battle ground of the race as the fastest runner proved to gain the advantage. Soon the break unhinged a rider and it was a man on battle between Bert Hull of Multisport Direct and Jacob McGahey of Industry Nine . The run up being at the beginning of the paved start/finish stretch the battle was going to the wire! The final ascent of the run-up saw Bert Hull with a slight lead as he remounted, Jacobe McGahey launched a blistering attack from behind and rocketed toward the finish line 100m away. He went to soon and Hull was able to grap his wheel and come around him on the incline leading to the finish with enough time for a victory salute. Afterwards Hull said of his opponent " He was really strong out on the long stretches and sweeping turns, he really put it to me on the last lap but a hung on." Knowing he had a good sprint he just had to make it to the top of the run up where his ability to "Drag Race" gave him the victory. Another first for the Masters 35+ race was Hincapie Gary/Fisher pro rider, Chris Harkey finishing 3rd in his first ever cyclocross race.
The pro race saw a respectable sized field of local and regional pro men. From the gun the race pretty much exploded and the field was strung out. The pace was extremely hot and favored power guys who can push a big gear and get through the few technical sections without incident. The race was all in the front again, with Lees McCrae, rider, Eric Thompson (not riding collegiate) running away from the race and successfully riding the Wall on each of the 8 laps in the 60 minute race. The battle for second place was handily won by , MSG founder Eric "The Belgian" Wondergem. The MSG #4 course took inspiration from the Nommay World Cup course and was a complete surprise from the track that was used last season and a change from the tight technical courses preferred by the course designer. After the Pro race, Wondergem commented to the course designer "Why didn’t you tell me the course was perfect for me?"
One category that continues to grow at MSG are the Single Speeders. A motley crew of classes and categories, these guys make rolling over one big gear seem easy. Three years ago when we first added SS, there were only 6 riders on the line, 21 riders lined up for SS action Saturday. Next up MSG #5 Bristol, TN with the now legendary spiral dubbed "The Lynskey Helix" this year in honor of Lynskey Performance Design, handmade titanium Bicycles from Chattanooga, Tn.