Derailleur hangers snapped. Disc brakes disintegrated. Still hundreds turned out in raingear and rubber boots and stepped out from their team tents to race, cheer and heckle at Zipp OVCX Series Race #3, Gun Club Cross, in Cincinnati this past weekend. According to Weather.com, between Saturday and race day Sunday, Cincinnati received a deluge of 3.62 inches of rain. With the race course wedged into a steep valley, the gun club was a pool of mud over most of the course. Like the week earlier, Ryan Knapp (Pony Shop) and Mackenzie Woodring (Foundry Cycles) retained their respective KOM and QOM titles (King and Queen Of Mud.)
In a sweet remembrance, the women’s elite race was preceded by a moment of silence for Amy Dombroski. As racers removed their helmets and bowed their heads, a Telenet-Fidea team jersey was displayed on top of the top of the flyover.
Of course it rained all night and all morning. Of course the rain stopped just before the men’s elite, turning the muddy milk to chocolate butter in places. According to Knapp, “Many of the sections I rode in warm-up only an hour before, were now long running sections.”
Knapp turned the screws from the shotgun start. Headed into the flyover and sand section past the start/finish, Sven Baumann (Wolverine/Trek) was under the spray of Knapp’s rear wheel. The course was about to claim its first victim. Finding the breaking point of the slick corners the hard way, Knapp got tangled with a wooden stake and course tape. Bauman got by, churned through the muck, and stretched a lead from three to ten seconds. Battling behind were Andy Messer (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld), John Francisco (Red Zone Cycling) and Spencer Petrov (Sophisticated Living/Bob’s Red Mill).
Knapp stayed focused through lap 4 and mitigated the gap. Within those 4 laps, a quarter of the field had abandoned with mechanicals or fatigue. With two to go, Knapp managed to close to Baumann, and then launched an attack of his own. The move put Bauman 20 seconds in arrears. Then Knapp flatted. Then it started pouring rain.
“So I came back into the pits for my other bike, but my crew was still washing it. They hadn’t had time to get it ready, nor were they expecting me to be off our pitting schedule. It certainly wasn’t their fault, because they did a flawless job, but just an unfortunate set of circumstances. Once they crawled out of the river with my bike, my gap had gone from 20 seconds to 20 meters with just under 1 lap remaining.” With Baumann nearing the pit, Knapp mounted up and kept the 20 meters to the line. Messer, Francisco, and Petrov rounded out the top 5.
Along with podium mates, Chloe Dygert (Midwest Devo) and Kim Thomas (New Holland Brewing), eventual winner Mackenzie Woodring also started from the back row. According to Woodring, “We all spent a fair amount of time on foot for the first 400m with back-ups and such.” Eventually they weaved their way to the front within a half lap.
Like her win the previous week in Indianapolis, Woodring found a way to turn pedal power into forward momentum and stretched her lead on Dygert and Thomas throughout the race.
Throughout most of the course the mud was 3-4 inches deep. Many racers described the sand as being the easiest part of the course. Woodring joked, “I was on foot 6-8 times per lap.” She also pitted every lap. It wasn’t all good luck for Woodring however. Within a few hundred meters to the finish, a fallen branch kicked up into her wheel and tore through her derailleur. She would cross the finish line on foot for the win.
Cooper Ambjorn (Team Hungry) and Gerry Schulze (BioWheels/Reece Campbell Racing), despite an untimely broken derailleur hanger and a long run to the pit, filled out the 4th and 5th spots on the day.
Complete results at usacycling.org
In its 10th anniversary season, the Zipp OVCX Series, including the MudFund Derby City Cup and Cincy3 UCI weekends and a date of Cross After Dark, will continue its focus on maximizing the growth of regional cyclocross through great courses, competitive fields, and good times.