The signature run-up of the Champion System MAC Series is back, and it only seems bigger than last year. The Amphitheater of Pain at Beacon Cyclocross has been a staple of the Champion System MAC Series for nearly a decade, and it will again be the centerpiece of the first day of a UCI and Champion System MAC double-header in New Jersey.
In what has become a tradition, Champion System MAC’s New Jersey weekend again takes place on Halloween weekend with two courses that many racers rate as their favorites. Both events feature UCI-sanctioned races for Elite Men and Women as well as a full compliment of amateur classes.
The weekend starts with the Beacon Cyclocross in southern New Jersey. Held in the woods and beach beside Bridgeton’s Sunset Lake, Beacon is an addictive high-speed video game dash through the woods, punctuated by a sketchy downhill, a beach run that’s right at the UCI limit of 80 meters, and the famous “Amphitheater of Pain”. From atop the Amphitheater, and overlooking the downhill and beach run, race announcer John Johnson will, for the amusement of spectators sitting in the center of this clover leaf design course, hurl heckles upon the heads of helpless racers who dare to lead, crash, wear Halloween costumes or otherwise draw his attention.
The following day, Champion System MAC racers trade sand for the rich grass and, if it’s raining, thick mud of the HPCX at the lakeside Thompson Park in the central New Jersey town of Jamesburg. A dual production between the Highland Park Hermes and Rutgers University Cycling Club’s, HPCX also counts toward the ECCC collegiate cyclocross series. The rolling terrain at Thompson Park provides no stand-out obstacles. It’s not excessively steep, nor is it particularly fast. What HPCX provides is a well-balanced and diverse course that favors all-around cyclocross riders more than sprint or climbing specialists.
Dark Side Reaching for Champion System MAC Points Domination. The Champion System MAC Series has released its updated points standings heading into this weekend’s UCI double header in New Jersey. The UCI’s current world points leader, Laura Van Gilder, and her black-suited C3-Athletes Serving Athletes Teammates claim “you don’t know the power of the dark side” as the official team slogan, and they have used the force of their dark side to put a stranglehold on a number of classes. Van Gilder has dominated the Champion System MAC this year, winning every UCI event. By applying her one allowable drop race to the non-UCI she skipped race in Bryn Athyn, Van Gilder has a perfect score of 600 points against only 385 points for her teammate Arley Kemmerer in second. Despite missing two races, Dee Dee Winfield is in position to give C3-Athletes Serving Athletes a year-end sweep as she is only 19 points behind current third place rider Erin Silliman of Fruit66/Artemis.
With Diane Grim leading the Women’s 45+ and Jimmy Maurer dominating the regular U19’s, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes have the mathematical possibility of clinching their third consecutive Champion System MAC Team Championship in New Jersey this weekend.
Standing in the way of the big team are the CYFAC-Champion System and Van Dessel Factory teams. With Swiss riders Valentin Scherz, the defending MAC champion, and Anthony Grand currently sweeping the top two spots of both the Elite Men and U23 standings, CYFAC-Champion System is getting very high efficiency from its small team. Meanwhile, Jeff Bahnson continues to be the star of the Van Dessel Factory Team as he leads the Elite U19 division.
As expected, the tightest battles continue to be in Champion System MAC’s very large and very deep Elite Masters classes. Stephen Kincaid (Philadelphia Cyclismo), Mike Yozell (PA Valleys.com) and Ralf Warmuth of the Highland Park Hermes lead the overall Elite Masters 35+ points standings with fewer than 100 points separating the three. In the Elite 45+ subdivision, Ralph Warmouth, who rides for the Highland Park Hermes, one of the principal sponsor’s of Sunday’s HPCX, leads Greg “Fergie” Ferguson, who rides for Team Beacon, the sponsor of Saturday’s Beacon Cyclocross. Jeff Appletons (GoCycling-D&Q/MK Racing), rounds out the top 3 in the Elite 45+.