CrossFit Games

‘Moments from Madison,’ Part Three: Time to Bike

November 29, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Ava Kitzi
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Madison, with its ample open space and hard-working Midwestern sensibilities, was an ideal place for some well-crafted, only-at-the-Games bike-riding events. In this third installment of ‘Moments from Madison,’ we look back on the non-stationary bike events from Games past. 

Remind me: The CrossFit Games team programmed four bike events across the six years the Games were held in Madison. The first time athletes rode a moving bicycle since the Pendleton event in 2012 started with a 10-speed Trek mountain bike in the Cyclocross in 2017, moving on to professional road bikes for the Crit in 2018. The Games then took a three-year hiatus from bicycle events (the 2020 Games had a bike event, but not in Madison). The bike returned in 2022 with the Bike to Work event which incorporated high-volume gymnastics into a 10-mile bike course. Finally, the last bike event in Madison was Ride in 2023, a 40-minute, all-out grind through an off-road course.

  • The bike events on the women’s side were consistently won by athletes well-known for their long game. Kristin Holte took the top spot in the first two years, and younger newcomers showed their capacity in the past two years, as Haley Adams and Emma Lawson won out in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
  • Trek Bikes is headquartered in Wisconsin, and the area’s history with previous major cyclocross events was among the reasons CrossFit decided to incorporate the bike at the Games, according to a previous interview CrossFit spokesman Tim Chan had with Cyclocross Magazine.
  • Lawson got third place in Bike to Work at the 2022 Games and held onto a strong position throughout the Ride event this year, keeping the momentum, she finished in first place. 
  •  The new terrain (literally) in 2023’s Ride wasn’t a roadblock for the athletes, as much of CrossFit is all about adapting. Emma Cary, however, got into a mix-up with Seher Kaya and Matilde Garnes, which led to her sliding off course and off her bike. She took 40th place in the event thanks to the mishap. 

The men saw several notable moments in the bike events and were relatively unbothered when it came to hopping on a road or a mountain bike. 

  • Ricky Garard proved himself formidable on the two bike events he saw, winning both of them (although later disqualified from the 2017 Games). In Bike to Work, Garard and Jonne Joski were neck and neck to the finish, sprinting to the end of the field. Ultimately, Garard edged out Koski by just a few seconds. 
  • Pat Vellner likely will not be sad to see the bike events in his rearview mirror, as he accumulated a 24th-place average in the four bike events, despite an average overall placement of third across those four years. His worst bike finish — 35th in the Crit in 2018 — was instigated by the loss of his bike chain just two-plus minutes into the event.
  • The events also came with their share of confusion: In 2022, both Saxon Panchik and Lazar Đukić cut their workouts a lap short, prematurely becoming the first two to sprint to the finish. After some discussion, they were ultimately awarded 5th- and 10th-place finishes, respectively. 

The bottom line: CrossFit HQ has introduced a number of odd objects and new equipment over the years. But something as basic as a bicycle (that isn’t stationary) shook up the Games in a way that expanded CrossFit, yet again, into another sport and expected more out of athletes in the off-season.

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