Conshohocken, PA, USA: Lilypons Water Gardens in Buckeystown Maryland is renowned for its expertise in water gardening and the wide variety of water lilies it grows. It also a beautiful garden in its own right, and a place of peace and tranquility – except this past Sunday, October 1, when the BikeReg.com MABRAcross series came to town with 240 crazed dirt racers and ear-splitting rock music.
Carrying the momentum started by last week’s record-buster at the Charm City Cyclocross in Baltimore, the Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross already had a race-record entry by the time pre-registration closed three days before the race. And, many more racers elected to endure the inconvenience of registering at the race when they saw the weather report.
The race is a memorial for Ed Sander, who was the garden manager at Lilypons and an avid racer with the promoting National Capital Velo Club. He died in 2001 following a tragic training accident, and was buried with an NCVC jersey in his casket. The race is a cooperative effort between his former club, his former employer and many, many sponsors to remember him and raise money for a scholarship fund that was created for his son, Chris, who is now 12 years old.
After a tribute to Sander and a moment of silence, the day’s featured event for Pro/Elite Men took off through the normally peaceful gardens to the backdrop of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (long version, of course) – which, according to the album’s liner notes would have roughly translated to “In the Garden of Eden”, except for the mass quantity of beer that had been consumed prior to the actual writing of the song. What could be a more perfect soundtrack for a cyclocross race in a garden!
Suitably inspired, the Pro/Elite Men proceeded to deliver a dramatic knock-down, drag-out battle in three parts. In “round 1”, Weston Schempf (FORT Frames) took the holeshot and quickly attacked the field to establish a gap on the field. Only one rider attempted to bridge the gap, George “Skippy” Menard (Hunt Valley Bicycles/Marathon Roofing). Schempf established a large, but not insurmountable lead while Menard yo-yo’d in no-mans land. Behind them, Menard’s teammate, Sean Galegher was closing quickly and the duo of last year’s winner Andy Applegate (Sonic Cyclocross) and Nathan Deibert (Holmes Cycling/BodyLogicTherapy) established themselves as “best of the rest”.
“Round 2” of this heavyweight fight took place on the one portion of the track that was out of sight to the spectators. Applegate and Deibert caught Galegher just as Menard rolled a tire. Simultaneously, Schempf blew-up like an over-extended NASCAR engine. With all the pity of Attila the Hun, Applegate and Deibert attacked and the race was turned onto its head. The final round played out tactically as both Applegate and Deibert expected the finish to come down to a sprint. “I knew where I wanted to attack, and I knew I wanted to be in front,” said Applegate. The final corner around the Lilypons store and the finishing straight are both gravel, and the sprint had already started when they got there. Applegate lead-out, Deibert closed -- but in the end, a screaming Andy Applegate won the Ed Sander Memorial for the second year in a row.
- Sean Galegher finished in 3rd after riding the last half-lap on a flat tire
- 16 year-old Nick Bax (Hot Tubes) finished 4th in the Pro/Elite Race
- Diedre “Grasshopper” Winfield (Velo Bella/Kona) won her second consecutive BikeReg.com MABRAcross race in dominant fashion with a two-and-a-half minute lead over last year’s winner Cara McCauley of Cheerwine.
- Other race sponsors included Inova Health System, Maxxis Tires, Cannondale, Wild Goose Brewery, Sticky Fingers Bakery, Reynolds Composites, Jittery Joe’s Coffee, Wheel Base Bike Shop, Spokes Etc. Bike Shop, Cary C. Bland Massage Therapy, Rudy Project and Joel Martin Real Estate.