Cameron and I caught a ride with Andrew from the Vive La Tarte/Cykel team in their cream and orange team Vanagon. I guess it felt a bit more authentic heading to a cross race through some farmland in a noisy, slow, and cold VW van. Rumor was that we’d be racing at a nudist resort, so I was curious to see what lie ahead.
Sure enough, when we pulled in, it was a pretty nice venue with real bathrooms, showers, and a little lake, in the middle of nowhere outside Sacramento. There were only a couple of naked guys hanging around, one of whom was paddling around on a little raft in the lake. A quick pre-ride of the course confirmed it to be “boring” by comparison to Surf City or NCCX standards, but nevertheless fun because it was such a flat grass crit where you had to pedal the entire time (no technical spots or downhills to recover during), very grippy grass corners, a sweet little off-camber section, and a mini hay-maze. It was nice and sunny enough to wear just shorts and a jersey. The Sacramento Gheto Cross crew set up quite a party tent zone on the backstretch of the course, with AstroTurf, a DJ, two bullhorns, a chicken lady, Santa, and LOTS of beer. The A’s race was cooking! I hung on to the main group through the first lap, thinking “Cameron’s right there!”. I may have been hallucinating, but I swore I saw Cody Kaiser bunnyhop the preeeetty tall barriers. As the laps progressed, things got strung out, and I found myself dangling behind the second little group, then in a bit of a no-man’s land battling it out with some guy named Sam. I knew his name was Sam because every time we rode by people, they would yell, “Go Sam!”. I was thinking “I’m coming for you Sam!”, “You’re fading Sam!” and other silly stuff. I passed him and got a good gap, but he came back, passed me back, and finally got a bit of a gap on me. Waaaiit for meeee Saaaam!
One of the obstacles was Santa riding the course slow and downing beers. He got in my way both times I lapped him. At one point I stuffed him in a corner and heard him mumble something about “…..coal in your stocking…”. The Gheto Cross tent was raging and it was pretty intense going by every lap with a bunch of people screaming and 3 people shoving beers in your face at once. Pretty fun atmosphere!
Ryan Rinn came up and joined me from the single speed race that started behind us, and it was fun riding with him for a little while for once. He was in 2nd place in his race, and the gap to 3rd looked huge, so when I attacked him, he let me go and started taking beer handups. I finished 16th, and it would be awhile before the naked race, so we decided to bounce. We stopped at Phil Mooney’s secret taco spot in Davis, and the long (slow) drive home yet again turned a one hour race into an all day affair.
The Sacramento races may be flat and grassy, but they have a really good vibe, are seamlessly organized, with timing chips and prompt results, and a progressively more entertaining party scene. I definitely look forward to hitting a few again next year. Next up: Central Coast, Toro Park….. -Travis
Fun day out with Leah, Brad, and Jon in Cunningham Park in SJ. I was excited to test my bike skills on a very varied course. I pre-rode most of the course, opting out of putting my bike through the foot thick mud. The mud came as a surprise since we are recording the driest calendar year since 1849. Anyway, rode the long deep sand sections and the steep descent to get a feel for the rhythm of the course. I didn’t find that rhythm on the first two laps, making some poor decisions to stay on the bike too long in the sand. I thought that all my running practice was going to be wasted this year but in this race it helped me pull back half a dozen riders. Murphy had us racing for 55 minutes. That helped too. In the end great racing on a well designed course. Now if only the progressive city of SF would lighten up and support bike racing. RIP GGP.