The cyclocross season got off to a start Sunday at Last Chance Cyclocross in Helena with smooth rides for the victors in the top division, some technical difficulties for one of the pre-race favorites and the release of a book about the sport by second-place finisher and local educator Geoff Proctor.
Helena 16-year-old Landen Beckner, who seemed to be enjoying himself in the lead with Missoula’s Jesse Doll — the eventual champion — at the start of the second lap of the hour-long men’s Cat 1/2/3 race, fell victim to a mechanical malfunction and still managed to fight back for a fourth-place finish on a borrowed bike.
Proctor, a 53-year-old English teacher who authored the recently released book titled “Behind the Stare: The Pulse & Character of Professional European Cyclocross,” rode without much company and powered to a runner-up showing ahead of Missoula’s Shaun Radley.
On the women’s side, Bozeman’s Anna Dingman held on for a comfortable victory over Missoula’s Ingrid Lovitt.
“It’s always fun to get out for the first race of the year — there are a lot of nerves that come with it — but for the most part it was fun to come out and experience the camaraderie of Montana cyclocross,” said Doll, who shouted, “Sorry about that Lando,” as Beckner walked by after the race.
Proctor made a move to pressure Doll after Beckner’s left crank fell off, but couldn’t stay with the leader and settled into second place for the duration. Beckner lost a huge chunk of time on his competitors and figured his race was over after he realized there was no fixing his bike in time to continue.
But after a quick conversation with Cat 4 third-place finisher Aubrey Curtis of Helena, Beckner shouldered his bike and ran about a quarter of a mile to the pit, where he exchanged bikes and started working his way back up the standings.
“I thought I was done when my crank fell off, but then Aubrey came up to me and said, ‘You can use my bike,’” Beckner recounted. “The seat was a little low and slipped about halfway through the race, but I just kept trying. I just tried to have as much fun as I could and turned the bad luck around.”
The kind of heart Beckner demonstrated Sunday is what Proctor hopes readers take away from his book. The publication coincides with the release of “The Secret Race,” book by Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle that focuses on cycling’s drug problem.
“With all the negative press out there with the doping thing and Hamilton’s book, maybe my book can be a bit of an antidote,” said Proctor, who is the U.S. Junior/U23 cyclocross coach, directs EuroCrossCamp and serves on the UCI Cyclocross Commission. “The only enhancement I want to know about it what’s in here (pounding his right fist to his chest). That’s what the book climaxes with and it’s what this sport is all about.”
That’s certainly what it was all about Sunday at the fairgrounds on the course that sent riders over a varied terrain — grass, gravel, packed dirt and loose dirt — featured a couple barriers that required a quick dismount and jog, hairpin turns and a flyover (bridge).
“It was fun, a great course and a beautiful day for it,” said Doll, a 32-year-old who was forced to provide himself with motivation out front and alone. “Riding by yourself, you’re always second-guessing because you know there’s pressure behind you if you make a mistake, so you have to find a couple of areas where you feel like you can do really well and take advantage where you can.”
Said Proctor: “It feels good to get out there and race, but man, it’s hard racing these young guys. In cross, you can have fun anywhere and the course was great. A lot of work went into it, so the guys who put this together deserve a big thanks.”
The Montana cyclocross season continues Wednesday and Sept 26 with events in Missoula, and Butte hosts races on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30. Several more races fill the October race calendar, which is available at www.montanacycling.net.
To read a preview of Proctor’s book or to purchase it, visit behindthestare.deedspublishing.com.
“It was a long time coming for sure,” Proctor said of “Behind the Stare.” “It was a five-year thing and I am really happy about how it turned out. I have huge appreciation for the school district for giving me the sabbatical to start in 2007 and then to see it all the way through to its fruition.”
In other races Sunday, Helena’s Mark Brooke won Masters A (1 hour), Bozeman’s Guy Mackenzie won Cat 4 (45 minutes), Big Sky’s Tom Owen won Masters B (45 minutes), Helena’s Henry Coppolillo won Juniors (45 minutes) and Bozeman’s Ivy Pedersen won women’s Cat 4 (45 minutes).
LAST CHANCE CYCLOCROSS
Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds
Cat 1/2/3 (1 hour)
1, Jesse Doll, Missoula; 2, Geoff Proctor, Helena; 3, Shaun Radley, Missoula; 4, Landen Beckner, Helena; 5, Ben Horan, Missoula; 6, Ian Foster, Missoula.
Masters A (1 hour)
1, Mark Brooke, Helena; 2, Jeff Seaton, Missoula; 3, John Fiore, Missoula; 4, Frank Gonzalez, Helena; 5, Eric Horn, Bozeman.
Cat 4 (45 minutes)
1, Guy Mackenzie, Bozeman; 2, Jesse Carnes, Missoula; 3, Aubrey Curtis, Helena; 4, Matt Thompson, Bozeman; 5, Ed Warner, Helena; 6, Russ Gates, Helena; 7, Scott Uron, Bozeman; 8, Brad Engelbrecht, Helena; 9, Jesus Salazar, Helena; 10, Jeff Knight, Missoula; 11, Mark Metzer, Missoula; 12, Mike Furlong, Helena; 13, Aidan Reed, Helena; 14, Cory Hardy, Ennis; 15, Bridger Fiore, Missoula; 16, Nicholas Zolman, Helena; 17, Andy Adarrek, Helena; 18, Silas Ray, Helena; DNF, Andrew Frank, Helena.
Masters B (45 minutes)
1, Tom Owen, Big Sky; 2, Rick Finley, Helena; 3, John Coulthard, Butte; 4, Peter Krebs, Belgrade; 5, Drew Schoenic, Deer Lodge; 6, Steve Field, Helena; 7, Bryon DeFord, Helena; DNF, Blair Fischer, Missoula.
Juniors (45 minutes)
1, Henry Coppolillo, Bozeman.
Cat 1/2/3 (1 hour)
1, Anna Dingman, Bozeman; 2, Ingrid Lovitt, Missoula; 3, Anolla Watschke, Missoula; 4, Wendy Brooke, Helena.
Cat 4 (45 minutes)
1, Ivy Pedersen, Bozeman; 2, Jacquie Spoon, Bozeman; 3, Jen Griggs, Helena; 4, Melinda Barnes, Helena; 5, Lisa Bush, Helena; 6, Claudia Rickel, Helena.