Wearing their respective Caesar Crowns on the podium, Ryan Knapp (Pony Shop) and Mackenzie Woodring (Foundry Cycles) raced to wins at the Zipp OVCX race #4 at Caesar’s Ford Park.
The race course wound through the concert bowl, natural rock outcroppings, parking lot and access roads of an old theater complex. According to race promoter Julie Herrmann, before falling on hard times, for decades “the theater was used for the outdoor production of Blue Jacket.” Cheers filled it once again Sunday with OVCX #4 Caesar’s Ford CX in Xenia Ohio presented by Team Dayton Cycling, Kenda, Cascade Bike Trainers, Cats Tongue Towels, Sigma and Rudy Project.
After two field-thinning mud-infused weekends, pack racing was back at Caesar’s Ford. With Ohio’s last breath of summer, temperatures reached the low 80’s. Hard packed and bumpy, riders split into packs of 5-8. Wanting to bridge to the next group but without dragging a group up from behind, racers gauged their efforts carefully. Sprints were common. Aside from a shaded double track section headed into the theater bowl, the course was exposed and hot for the late races.
To promote women’s cycling in the Midwest, Team Dayton offered up a women’s payout equal to the men’s race, a $1500 purse paying 20 deep. In search of a big slice of payout pie, Chloé Dygert (Midwest Devo) drove hard from the start and took the front. “The race was HARD,” according to Woodring, “incredibly bumpy…definitely a power course with little rest. I started 2nd row.” Behind Dygert, Mackenzie Green (Borah) led a loose group with Katie Arnold (Sophisticated Living/Bob’s Red Mill), Samantha Brode (Cleveland Clinic) and Sierra Siebenlist (Matthews Bicycles). Within a half lap, Woodring chased through to Dygert’s wheel.
“The race was a blast. Mackenzie Woodring and I were pulling away from the pack,” said Dygert post race. Then things went sideways. Dygert tossed her chain at the barriers. Woodring added, “I wanted to wait so badly, but knew that Katie Arnold wasn’t far behind.” 400 meters later Dygert flatted. On a fast wide-open dry course, Woodring pressed on solo. Dygert tried valiantly to close. She maintained her lead over the 3rd place Arnold, but came up 23 seconds short of the win at the line.
Knapp may have won the first three Zipp OVCX Series races, but others had their own plans in the men’s elite race. To cheers and cowbells, Jason Monk (Team WHAYNE) struck out early, breaking a group of 7-8 riders off the front through most of the first lap. However, knowing Knapp was still behind the group, Sven Baumann (Wolverine Racing/Trek) was the first to attack. The move opened up a solo gap on the bunch. “I started out really hard. Since I knew Ryan Knapp was only in the 4th row,” said Baumann, “I wanted to make him work hard to get up to me.” On a straight section past many of the tents lined near the start/finish, Knapp set off in a solo chase.
Knapp made the bridge, sat on for a lap, then got greedy and attacked Baumann. Maybe it wasn’t the best part of the course. The increase in speed to maintain the move though the corners was too much. “I hooked my shifter on a course stake,” said Knapp after the race. When Knapp went down, Baumann went deep. You could see in his twisting shoulders and arched back, Baumann thought he had his chance at an OVCX win.
It wasn’t over. With three to go, “He came back again,” said Baumann of Knapp, “and then attacked me,” again. Baumann was out of matches and settled on minding the gap to a group contending for third containing Monk, Adam York (Wolverine Sports Club), Jeff Weinert (Wolverine Racing/ACFSTORES.net), Robert Kendall (Papa John’s), Fred Rose (Sophisticated Living/Bob’s Red Mill) and Ryan Gamm (Ohio Valley Velo). Monk took the sprint over York for the third spot on the podium.
Complete results at usacycling.org