Mad Anthony CX

Compiled by Tyler Trask and Harvey Elliott

MACX started off with a BANG this year – thanks in part to a Civil War era cannon provided by the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition. For those of you who don’t know, Mad Anthony is the BIGGEST cyclocross race in Michigan and the venue is pretty unique among races as the course takes you up, down, over, and through (read tunnel) a star-fort built in the 1840’s.

AAVC'er Mark McCulloch in the barriers.

AAVC'er Mark McCulloch in the barriers.

The fort is located on the south side of Detroit and also provides some great vistas of the downtown skyline. Combine this with a beautifully sunny fall day in mid-late October and you couldn’t hope for a better race. Cyclocross in Michigan is often cold, wet, and bleak. This particular race drew a stark contrast to the norm with high temp of 69F and a full pallet of fall colors. In fact, it almost seemed wrong. Were we really in Detroit, or had we all died and gone to Louisville? 

Cyclocross is growing, you hear about it on the national stage and you can see it here in southeast Michigan. Mad Anthony set a new record for attendance - with nearly 320 participants and their families arriving from all across southern Michigan and Ohio for the race. You also see it in sponsorship with major financial backing from Trinity Transportation – a provider of motor coaches, sedans, shuttles, and buses in southeast Michigan and Toledo Ohio – and a huge pile of swag from Trails Edge CycleryAlchemistVelocioBeat the TrainDetroit Endurance LaballonewordThe Sufferfest, and North Peak Brewing Company. Mad Anthony started in 2009 as the only sanctioned race in Detroit and five years later the event seems downright dignified.

The race has already grown 4x and there’s clearly room for more as the field blows apart in the first 500m... This race is tough and the up-and-down of the trenches make this one a personal battle for all racers.

This year’s course took the best elements from last year and added some new twists. They maintained the two “run-ups” inside the fort with two off-camber descents.They also saved that big drop off the gun emplacements on the 5th point of the star and thankfully extended the landing zone straight out to the inner wall.

THE DROP

THE DROP

This made the drop faster, but also safer by eliminating that 90-deg turn onto the service road below. Another addition/modification was the barrier on the North side of the fort. Previously you’d come off the service road in the trench and make a 135-deg turn onto a sidewalk followed by a sketchy off-center ramp leading to the outer wall. This was removed so you made the turn, gassed the climb, and raced to dismount/remount over a knee-high wall. This actually helped the flow through this area as the riders were able to remount on a slight downhill before snaking around the exterior embankments. It also provided a great spectacle for the hecklers and seemed to be a crowd favorite. In all, this year’s course traced out 1.8 miles of the fort yet managed to keep the action close for the spectators.

Ok, ok, on to the race report...

We had a great turnout from the AAVC and UM teams including a number of first time racers. In the Men’s Elite Race, Danny Soltan and Tyler Trask lined up front row for the hole shot.Tyler got off clean in the sprint, but Danny got caught up in traffic and was forced into the tape on the first power-climb. Things looked abysmal with Danny in the tape, but he quickly recovered and commenced kicking ass for the subsequent hour. Again, proving you can’t hold a good racer back, Danny worked his way through the ENTIRE field and ended up on the podium with a 4th place finish. Tyler also had a strong showing in his first Elite race and even though he looked pitiful for laps 5-9, he still managed to round out the top 10.

For the Masters, Tom Barrett had one of his best races of the year and took 5th in the highly competitive 35+ field. You can see him over there on the left smiling for Hans at Ten Mile Media.

Other notable team finishes are Harvey Elliott and Brian Kearns in the Men’s Cat 3 race. These two guys have been trading podium spots all season and this race was no different. Brian ripped off the line with as much voracity as the cannon and took the hole-shot.

Dalton Guggemos and Harvey were in pursuit, but even though Harvey set the course he never actually RODE IT before the race. It seems wearing two hats as racer and race director can have some downsides... Harvey got caught up with Ellie Sterne on the second “run-up” and fell behind.

A little frazzled after the mix-up and trying to make up time, he slid out on loose grass near the in-field barriers and backed off. Brian and Dalton were gone and Harvey was now working for 3rd.With a third slip-up coming into the tunnel, Harvey was done and backed off to finish 4th. Meanwhile, Brian was channeling his inner beast and simply rode away from Dalton on the short, punchy climbs. Brian took 1st with the rest of the field blown far and wide.

I’d also like to call out converted roadie and dirt-phobie Stephen Doll who raced a borrowed bike and finished a respectable 6th place in the Men’s Cat 4. It seems Mad Anthony really does have some appeal beyond the traditional CX guy… 

Among the women, we saw an influx of talent from south of the border. You might have thought WAS Labs brought a tour bus or something… Still, our own Andrea Merlotti continued to shine and finished 2nd in the Women’s Cat 3/4 race. That’s right, 2nd, even after she bobbled the same climb that got Danny – ON THE LAST LAP – and spent the next minute wallowing on the hillside. She recovered just in time to dash the hopes of Emily Kleinglass and secure her podium spot. Alright Andrea, if you can take a minute to sit and catch your breath during the race – AND STILL PODIUM – that means it’s time to upgrade!

The race was a great success in every way. Superb weather, spectacular turnout, and serious results for our team!! Thanks again to Harvey, Rebecca, and the entire Tailwinds crew for pulling this all together. Thanks to the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition and Beat the Train in Detroit.

And thanks to our sponsors who make it all possible.