Travis did a great job with the race report below, so see his for full details on the Men’s B race. Here is my side of the story.
Arrived at the Cal Fire training center in Bonny Doon not really knowing what to expect of the course. I saddled up and hopped onto the course for a couple pre-laps. It had lots of switchbacks in real fluffy loose dirt that created a cloud behind you as you rode. The next thing I knew, I was on a piece of singletrack in the forest with no sign of course markers…did I just get lost? I kept going forward for a couple hundred feet of awesomeness before finding the next course marker. Rad. This is going to be fun.
Spirits were high at the starting line in the 3rd row next to Travis, Scott, and Nick. Homies Walter and Garrett were in the mix, as well as a bunch of other familiar faces from the basp and norcal races.
The whistle blew and I started to pedal. I got a good jump off the line and no joke, a ray of light came down from the heavens and opened up a hole to the front of the pack. I floored it and was able to grab the holeshot before the first gravel turn. I was able to hold onto it until the loose uphill right hand turn before you left the woods. I bobbled a bit and the usual race leaders went by me along with Travis. My legs weren’t feeling too hot at that point, tired from going a little too hard in the first lap.
I could see Travis ahead of me in the switchbacks and I mentally put a target on his back. The rest of the race was focused on riding the parts I felt good in well and not making mistakes in the challenging sections. I caught up to Travis’ wheel on the last lap and thought I could take him in final sprint. Boy was I wrong!
He saw me behind him and took off securing his well deserved 3rd place finish! Stoked. The Surf City crew throws really awesome and fun races. Glad we made it down there and I am looking forward to the next.
I took a couple weeks off cross racing to do the Rapha Gentleman’s Race, and while I got a couple good long road rides in, I was missing some intensity, and feeling rusty with the dirt handling skills. Luckily the course wasn’t super technical. It was kind of flat with a lot of turns like the Sacramento race I did, but instead of grass, is was deep, fluffy, powdery dirt, getting deeper every lap. There was one fluffy run-up, but with some pre-race experimenting, I found the line, and was able to ride it every lap. The dust clouds were coating everything at the tent.
I lined up front row, on the side I wanted, hoping to get a good start, and then they decided to do call-ups, and having only done one Surf City, I didn’t get one, and had to start 3rd row, less than ideal for the sketchy gravel corner we would go sprinting into. I played it safe during the start, and found myself back a lot farther than I wanted to be, and with all the loose dust corners, I had to really work to move up, and saw the lead group of 5 or 6 building a nice gap on the rest of us. Brad was up in it though, so that was cool. I got stuck behind somebody on the singletrack section though the woods, where there was no room to pass, and finally got past everybody I was stuck behind once we came out of the woods, and focused on closing the now even bigger gap up to the lead group.
Luckily they were falling apart a little in front of me. I worked my way up to Brad, who was being blocked hard in a un-classy way by another racer. I passed Brad, and finally forced my way past “Mr. Speed-up-&-cut-you-off”. I caught another rider, and settled in to 3rd. Daryl was giving me gap times and the two leaders were smoking, getting a bigger gap every lap, so I settled into a pace to defend my 3rd. I only crashed once, in a thick dust corner, with the bike somehow landing backwards, and got back up and on it pretty quick.
Brad clawed his way up to me, and actually gave me a run for my money, and we came across the line in a sprint finish together, dude is on fire!
Andrew from Vive-Le-Tart won, and earned himself his final victory before upgrading to the A’s. I plan on trying the A’s myself this coming weekend, and look forward to some serious challenge!
Yet again my Pacenti rims with WTB tires were flawless and fast, and my Hunter frame to seems to yawn at me, asking “Is that all you’ve got? We can go faster.” My Paul MiniMotos are super light, stop better than most of the cross disc brakes I’ve tried, and are made in my hometown Chico, so of course they work great!
Everyone should go check out a Cross Crusade. It’s unlike any cross race I’ve ever done - for one thing, men and women elites race together (along with 35+As) for a whole hour. For another, it’s huge - CC races are the biggest cross events anywhere, as far as I know. Getting beginners to try the sport is a big deal to the promoters, so there are a lot of different categories to handle all the racers and to help people feel comfortable.
Oh yeah, and there is actually mud in Portland. I really am jealous of all the mud. Besides being super fun to ride, mud = no dust.
I got to the venue a bit later than planned, and didn’t have time for much warmup or course inspection. After riding a bit of the course I was pretty excited for the conditions - muddy but super tacky thanks to the sun making a rare appearance. Pretty much ideal for ripping around corners. I scoped out the heckling spots including a sort of hairball off camber descent and a run-up to a hard left to the finish line - genius. I’d already heard stories about how that feature has made for dramatic finishes in the past.
I got a crap start thanks to no call-up (by the time they were done with call-ups, there were only five of us left!) and many rows of ladies, but I started moving up pretty fast. The longer race was tough in many ways, but it somehow felt easier because I was really pacing myself differently. I know I’m not fit enough to go balls out for an hour, so I kept it at a level I knew I could handle. The course was really straightforward with a lot of gravel road flats into the wind (roadie tactics were the deal), two sort of heinous run-ups, a noteworthy absence of barriers and a couple of fun single track sections. My tubulars hooked up great and I didn’t have to dab once, pretty awesome.
7 laps later, I ran the run-up for the last time to finish 14th out of 30 ladies with a huge smile on my face. Of course, my first thought was…it sure would be fun to do a few of these and get a call-up next time! Maybe next year…
Thank you Daryl for the borrowed bike box and Steven for the heated van and VIP bike treatment!
This was my first double header weekend and I think I was equal parts nervous and excited about it going into it Saturday morning.
Sierra Point at night is the most fun race all year because you’re under the lights and there are 10x more people there cheering/heckling. The course was really fast and dusty with a small mud patch and another small sand patch. Nick described the course best (see below!).
I got a 2nd row call up in the B’s based on the last BASP race result and it made all the difference. It was pretty intimidating to look back at the 80+ person field behind me…Got a good jump off the line and tried to hang with the lead group as best I could.
The first half of the race was spent chasing the chase group. I was able to make contact and slowly move past riders 1 at a time. The Hunter bike was doing it’s job, huntin dudes down! (bad joke?) Back to it, I ended up being about 20-30 seconds behind a rider in a polkadot’ish jersy and spent the last 2 laps trying to catch him but no dice. I crossed the line in 6th and couldn’t be more stoked, my best BASP result!
Waking up on Sunday was a little rough and I was not sure if I would be able to race, let alone ride my bike with how sore my legs felt. Packed up the car and cruised out to the Kitten of Vallejo.
The course was completely different from the night before - grass climbs, off camber turns, big sand pit, run ups, baseball diamond loop, and even a jump! I rode a couple pre-laps, felt good, and set out to have fun out there with my teammates Tom and NIck.
I had a front row call up in the B’s and figured I might as well go for it! Got a good jump on the uphill start into the grass soul sucking climb in the holeshot. Somehow I’m smiling in the picture above, but trust me, I was hurting pushing it up that hill!
This was the first time that I have ever led a race and as nervous as that thought made me before, it was completely awesome. I wasn’t working on chasing anyone, just riding my own race. I made it through the majority of the first lap in the lead before a rider passed me, but I got him back on the grass switchbacks. Led the start of the second lap and decided to hit the jump as hard as I could (yolo!). My left foot unclipped when I landed and the chase group went by me. Oh well, it was worth it!
Photo by Caroline
I focused on trying to not make any mistakes, to ride smoothly (thanks Cam!), and keep the power going. The course was super fun, which made the laps go by quickly, and I was able to pass a couple of the riders who had gone by me earlier. I moved up to third place for the last lap and a half, but couldn’t catch #2 and Andrew from Viva La Tarte who won the race.
This was my first podium ever and I’m really happy about how the race went. Huge thanks to Travis and Rick, the team, all of our sponsors, race organizers, and all the riders. Cross is really fun!
Double Race Weekend: Sierra Point & Kitten of Vallejo
It’s been a long time since I’ve raced twice in one weekend, but it’s hard to pass up the opportunity when both races are relatively close to home.
The Sierra Point night race is not only one of the funnest races of the year, it’s also only a twenty-minute drive from San Francisco. The course is wide, mostly flat, bone dry, and not much of a technical challenge. However, there are a couple things that can make it tricky:
- It’s night (duh) and very dusty (duh), which makes the course details difficult to see. Not the end of the world, but it is much better to get a pre-ride in while it is still light out so you can feel out the good lines before darkness covers them up. But even if you do pre-ride the course…
- …small mistakes can add up to lots of lost time. Overshooting turns, getting caught on a dirty line, and bad gear selection can easily cost you a few placings by the end if they happen often enough. Death by a thousand cuts.
This was the first race of the year where I was got a good starting position and was actually able to capitalize on it. The first couple rows on the grid were reserved for call-ups, with the rest filled according to when you registered, and I ended up in the third row (I always pre-reg weeks in advance because I am paranoid.) This put me ahead of most of the traffic before the race even started, and I was able to cling on to the front(ish) group on the first few laps before things strung out and it became a drag race to the finish. The course was fun, the crowd was great, and all four teammates in the race were riding strong.
The Kitten of Vallejo was the following afternoon. This course was completely different from Sierra Point, with lots of elevation, power-sucking grass, and some particularly evil off-camber switchbacks that went up the side of a sandy hill. The field was small but motivated, and it took a few laps before my legs showed up again after the previous night’s thrashing. Murphy was also kind enough to tack on a few extra laps for us since we were the last race of the day. The Bs don’t usually get this kind of treat at other races, and I appreciate the opportunity to squeeze out a little more racing for my money. I’m definitely looking forward to what the SuperPro crew has in store for their series finale.
Not much to report actually, at least for me! I was in the wrong place at the right time during staging and ended up near the back of the grid, and then REALLY in the wrong place at the wrong time on the first lap when a rider tipped over in front of a group of us on the ride-up to the stairs. The few seconds we lost getting around the spontaneous roadblock was all the front half of the field needed to scoot up the hill and open a gap that few were able to bridge. I spent the rest of the race trying to find a my own groove and counting off laps.
The one thing that did go well was my core strength. Stafford Lake has always been hell on my back and midsection not only during the race but also for a day or two afterwards, thanks to all the gopher holes and rutted hardpack. I’ve been doing core exercises lately to prepare for the season, and Stafford proved that they worked! I felt more smoother over the rough stuff and was able to put power down in the last half noticeably better than in previous years.
It was great hanging out with Heather, Tom, Jon and Brad. The team vibe is always awesome, even when your race doesn’t go well. Stafford Lake also has great facilities, the park staff are nice, the community seems genuinely supportive of the racing scene, and it’s just a damn beautiful place to race at. I hope it stays active as a race venue for many years to come.
Day well spent in Novato with Heather, Brad, Nick, Daryl, and Jon. The course was very essentially the same as last years except the pool of filth was swapped for a section of maze inspired hay bales. If I explained it any further it would sound ridiculous, which it was, but the crowd loved it. It invited possible carnage and showmanship. The crowd roared. Needless to say it was dusty and bumpy. I had a great start thanks to a second row call up and a few days practicing exactly how to polish my start with pedal positioning and gear selection. I made it to the stairs well before the main group and missed out on the pile up from funneling riders into the stairs. Then it was a matter of not blowing up on the incredibly long gravel road and flat grassy sections. I ran 26PSI front and 27PSI rear in tubular Fangos. Bottomed out one or twice on a dip in the gravel road but the course was rock and curb free. The traction at that pressure was amazing. I could hear and see riders going down left and right but the combo of those tires and the Paul Mini Moto brakes was perfect. This is the first race this year where the dust was an issue with the drivetrain. It sucked up every bit of Rock and Roll lube and shifting was a little cranky on the last lap. Overall great race on a very fast course. Next week BASP night race on Saturday and Vallejo NorcalCX race on Sunday. Should be interesting.
I’m always really excited to support the Bike Monkey crew - their races are so well run, and considering the small size of the fields, they pay out really generously. I had an okay race, nothing spectacular, but managed 4th place after working my way up from a terrible start. I had a great time racing with my pal Caroline, who killed it and got 3rd. It was super hot in Santa Rosa, and I struggled with the heat a bit, as well as not having the best motor to get me through all the pedaling that course demands. There are a lot of corners, but with little passing room you have to be ready to throw the hammer down!
Sunday was Candlestick #2, and I almost didn’t take the line. I’d forgotten to register ahead of time and I woke up in a major brain fog, likely from the heat the day before. I still made my way to the park, figuring I might as well see what happens. Those days are pretty instructive - will my body feel as awful as my brain? Turns out, my body felt decent, but my brain definitely was a hinderance. Despite typically being a good starter, and lining up on the front row thanks to a call-up, I found myself geared too high, missing my pedal and starting at the back. Heather mistakenly lined up behind me and was similarly screwed, sorry Heather! Damnit, my plan to try to avoid the mess on the early corners was shot to hell! I struggled to pick some people off, but passing places were scarce with all of the gravelly corners. Pick the wrong place to pass, and you’d find yourself several seconds back as you slid all over the place. So, I tried to be patient, but it was really frustrating. I was getting caught up behind riders who were taking corners slower than I would like, but I couldn’t quite summon up the juice to pass on the straightaways, probably due to tired legs from racing the day before. Then, as frustration set in, I started making stupid mistakes that cost me a few places. I’d pass a few people, blow it on something (I think Derek calls it “running out of talent”) and lose those spots all over again. I started reeling in people I’d lost thanks to my mistakes, but I ran out of room at the end of the race and had to settle for 9th. I know I can do better, and look forward to getting another shot in a few weeks. I actually really like racing at Candlestick. When I’m not busy shooting myself in the foot, I can do something with that course, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to improve on yesterday. First step is remembering how to get a decent start…
Thanks team for the cheers and awesome vibes! See you in two weeks…
I really wanted to see how well I stacked up in the Elite B’s field without a flat tire being part of the equation. I had been riding pretty kamikaze previous to my flats, and now found myself a little shellshocked, riding more carefully, and…….slower. WTB was kind enough to send me a pair of their new tubeless compatible Cross Wolf tires to try out, and when they mounted super tight on the rim, my confidence started to grow. A quick session in the park the day before the race at really low pressures confirmed a good seal, and I felt ready to shreddy.
The weather was perfectly sunny, not too warm or cold. We had a nice big squad at the tent, and the vibe was right. A couple pre-ride laps behind Cameron and Rick opened my eyes to some good lines, and our team lined up 6 deep in the B’s field! Lining up right where I wanted to ended up being less than ideal, as a surge and merge left me stuck behind a big group on the first long section of the start, and I had to get crafty to find an open spot to move up before the dirt, putting me around 8th place. I picked off a few guys, and found myself in a long drawn out battle between 4th and 5th.
The bike was riding good, and the tires were really hooking up nice, but there’s some fast guys in the B’s and I got picked off near the finish, landing me a 6th place. YAY NO FLATS! I had a really fun race, and have to say the ride-up/drop-in/baymud/flyover stuff was pretty good times. Big thanks to Bryce at WTB, everybody on our team for all the help, and you guys out on the course yelling encouragement!