Bay Area based cyclocross squad representing Fresh Air Bicycles in San Francisco and Hunter Cycles from the mountains of Santa Cruz County.
Besides our title sponsors, we are fortunate enough to have the support of some fantastic folks: San Francisco based companies like De La Paz Coffee Roasters and Una Pizza Napoletana, in addition to Thunderbird Energetica & EpicBar, Vans, Pacenti, Sim-Works and Paul Components.
See you in the dirt.
Leah and I made the drive up to Truckee with our better halves in tow to check out the Sagebrush CX scene in the Reno/Tahoe area.
It was a refreshing 35 degrees at 7:30am on Sunday before the race, but warmed up to about 60 by the time we started at 10:30. This was my first race in the new kit and my first time ever wearing a skinsuit. I gotta say it, skinsuits rule! So comfortable and you feel super fly. I’m going to call it now, in 50 years we’re going to be wearing them as our daily attire. I digress…
The course went through the BMX track! In warm ups, Leah and I cruised it a couple times and I channeled the skills I learned at the Bonny Dune Pump Track course at the Hunter Compound. There were banked turns, pump bumps, and real deal table tops! It was awesome. I made a mental note to try to not get too rad during the race, because we all know how that would turn out. There was one climb in the dirt, some long grass sections, sketch single track descent with a 180 hairpin turn at the bottom, and a long stair run up on the course too.
Since this was a USAC race, I raced at my current Cat 4 Level in hopes of getting some points to move up. I was in the right place at the right time and somehow ended up on the front row of the start grid and figured I should take advantage of that. At the sound of the whistle I went for it and took the hole shot around the first corner and into the BMX area. I knew that would be important since there were a couple points early on in the course where it would bottleneck. I held the lead through the track and into the first climb where I opened up to try to put a gap on the field.
At this point, I realize I’m in the lead and started to get a little nervous. I washed out in a loose turn and while I picked myself up, I took a deep breath and said, “stay cool dude, you got this!” I got back on and was able to hold the lead down the next section. The rest of the race went really smoothly, I had a blast riding the BMX section each time (see video below), and felt pretty strong even in the altitude. I finished first and now only need 2 more points to move to cat 3. I want to try to do some of the bigger races later this year and next year, so having a higher ranking will be help me do that.
Shout out to Leah for finishing 5th in a really strong Women’s field! She rode the BMX track like a champ and used her shredder skills on the descents to fight off her competitors.
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…..