14 December 2014
Emily Kachorek (Squid Bikes) and Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) are victors at the NorCalNevada District Cyclocross Championships. Under proverbial “tractor-pull” muddy conditions, the racing for Elite Women and Elite Men came down to the final lap before deciding the outcomes. Ron Shevock (Folsom Bikes) made it a triumvirate of local winners, of sorts, by taking the Single Speed Men race to close out an excellent event and excellent racing.
SacCX, LangeTwins Winery, and the Claassens to the Fore
Todays event is a terrific reflection for the caliber of cyclocross as a whole throughout the NorCalNevada region. And Jen and Clint Claassen have made a significant impact on the Sacramento Cyclocross Series. Along with the LangeTwins Winery, Kinetic Cycles, course designers Clint Claassen and Cody Kaiser, and the recent weather, the cyclocross community experienced a well-organized event, ‘cross at a winery with a near-festival atmosphere, and a truly difficult course to race. Spectators galore scurried from one portion of the course to another to capture the racing. In between races, Paul’s Rustic Oven, Addy’s Paella, Java J’z Mobile Cafe, and wine tasting slaked everybody’s hunger and thirst.
And the community came out to watch, play, and race. Both the Elite Men’s and Elite Women’s fields were very competitive. Despite the power-sapping and changeable conditions of soft mud, most racers at least gave it that begrudging nod of approval whilst many others reveled in the challenge.
The course had shallow embankments for elevation changes plus a small descent down toward and back up from a swollen stream at the back. An off-camber section adjacent to the winery’s “pond” had many pondering and pondering again for the best line, though the days racing made it tackier later. Only the short stretch coming down the fly-over gave any opportunity for rest over the distance of a lap. With the need to expend an enormous amount of energy riding through the mud, the decision to ride or run early and late made differences across many of the day’s races. The earlier Masters A racers demonstrated notable disparities in speed covering even flat muddy ground.
“Oh man, this is going to be rough”
Caro Gomez-Villafañe (Vanderkitten CX) was off to a great start early in the Elite Women’s race, reaching the small descent to the stream well ahead of Kachorek. The Squid Bikes racer had the hole-shot to the first corner but was third after the off-camber mud already 15 seconds behind Gomez-Villafañe. The lead was 21 seconds on the second lap at the descent by the stream but now Kachorek had recovered second place.
By the time they reached the stream section, Ellen Sherrill (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS) and Caroline Dezendorf (Marin Bikes) tussled over third just 25 seconds behind Kachorek. These two racers would trade third place back and forth, struggling to stay upright, choosing different lines, and running different sections to each other. Dezendorf took this race for the third step of the podium to the last lap and beat Sherrill to the line by 1 second.
For a while, Gomez-Villafañe looked in control but the race’s complexion changed at the third lap. Kachorek caught and passed the Vanderkitten racer as they raced up and away from the stream. Kachorek remained in the driver’s seat just ahead of Gomez-Villafañe, seemingly coming down to a last-corner decision. Passing a lapped rider, Kachorek managed a small gap and then built it into 16-second winning margin.
Describing her race, Kachorek said “Caro [Gomez-Villafañe] took off. She’s a lot faster this year and we’ve had a lot of good battles. At CXLA it was a just a battle of wills between the two of us on both days. I knew she was going to be really tough competition again today.
“It was a tractor-pull out there and Wattage heavy. I think that favors me a little bit but it was going to be a matter of whether the technical sections would keep her ahead of me. I’m not a great runner so when she took off running ahead of me I thought ‘oh man, this is going to be rough’.
“I also knew I couldn’t blow my lot on the first lap. It’s just hard to get around this course. I kept racing and then slowly reeled her in. The course conditions changed a lot, becoming more tackier, and I noticed she was running stuff I could ride. I figured how to ride that off-camber section and, once I reeled her in, I passed her to take my own lines.
“The lapped traffic played into [matters]. We both passed someone at the technical sections. I got a bike length on [Gomez-Villafañe] and put a little bit of a dig after that.”
Sarah Maile (Ventana Mountain Bikes) was always close to the front of the race and parlayed a fifth place finish. Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) admitted running over the mud was difficult for her coming off an injured hip but managed a sixth-place finish after passing Erica Greif (Reno Wheelmen) early in the race. Greif landed seventh place.
The competitive field for Elite Man had Sean Estes (Muscle Milk/Specialized), Kirt Fitzpatrick (Ornot), and Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) line up at the start with Cody Kaiser. Ortenblad and Kaiser were first getting through the off-camber mud on lap one. Following a short distance back were Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS team mates Scott Chapin and Max Judelson. As the course wound inside the stream, Ortenblad and Kaiser were beginning to show the type of performance that sees them race amongst some of the world’s best in Europe.
Judelson, however, went on a mission and slowly began to reel in the leaders, leaving his team mate behind. At one point in the race, 4 seconds covered Ortenblad, Kaiser, and Judelson. On top of catching them, Judelson impressed even more by keeping pace with the lead for a couple more laps. However, with the remaining laps running out, a slow leak scuppered Judelson’s race and he dropped back to fourth, behind Chapin, during a stop at the pits for repair. Chapin’s pace improved though he would never reach the leaders.
The Ortenblad-Kaiser battle for the win continued as they raced solid laps one after the other. Each would take turns out front but Ortenblad seemed to have the biggest portion of time in the lead. They remained close taking the bell but it was Kaiser taking the win by 7 seconds.
“It was such a tractor pull,” commented Kaiser. “Mud everywhere. It didn’t matter whether you had seen the course once or not at all. It was so thick and slow. There were no inside lines out there.
“Tobin [Ortenblad] had me on the ropes. He’s got a lot more horse power than I do. I have a good motor but he has a bigger one. I ran an off-camber section that he tried to ride and I got a gap there. I laid down a bit more power and kept it going. He was definitely driving it and had me on the ropes for a few sections.”
Fitzpatrick worked his way up from outside the top-ten early in the race to a fifth-place finish. Estes had another solid race taking sixth while Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen) crossed the line in seventh.
Elite Single Speed Men
Starting a minute behind and racing alongside the Elite Men, the muddy conditions challenged the Single Speed racers. Ryan Rinn (Vive La Tarte CX) led early, catching several of the geared racers. His race was looking very solid until, as at the Kitten of Vallejo the previous weekend, he ran into mechanical difficulties. And again, as at the Kitten, Ron Shevock was on hand to take advantage. Thrilled at his victory afterwards, Shevock admitted he was glad the race finished when it did. Cesar Chavez (Ibis/Buy-cell.com) was closing in fast and buoyed by the sight of the race-leader. In the end, Shevock endured, Chavez grabbed second place, and Justin Paulson (Victory Velo Racing) took the last step of the podium.
The Verdict on Districts at SacCX
Both Cody Kaiser and Emily Kachorek have strong ties to the local cyclocross community and the Sacramento Cyclocross Series; both winners expressed great pride and gratification at the Championships.
Kachorek: “It’s fabulous. I’ve been impressed with the Sacramento series in general. I think that Clint and Jen [Claassen] have done an amazing job this year. The courses have been great. This race in particular has been awesome. Cody [Kaiser] has designed a UCI quality course. The set-up, the vendors, the food, the bike wash…everything. They have done a wonderful job. LangeTwins hosts a really classy cyclocross event.”
Kaiser: “It’s pretty rad for this to be Districts this year. Everybody behind the scenes worked very hard to make it happen and its visible, for sure. For years I’ve been trying to persuade the Santa Cruz and San Francisco guys to come up. This year we finally made it a race where they almost had to come and they were impressed. I think they’ll be coming to more SacCX races now.”
1. Emily Kachorek (Squid Bikes)
2. Caro Gomez-Villafañe (Vanderkitten CX)
3. Caroline Dezendorf (Marin Bikes)
4. Ellen Sherrill (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS)
5. Sarah Maile (Ventana Mountain Bikes)
6. Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law)
7. Erica Greif (Reno Wheelmen)
8. Trina Baumsteiger (Team Rambuski Law)
9. Amanda Schaper (Caletti Cycles)
10. Kelly Chang (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS)
11. Amanda Seigle (Jackroo Racing Team)
12. Michelle Monroe (Ibis/Buy-cell.com)
13. Audery Biehle (Aloha Mr. Hand-Up)
14. Jennifer Teerlink (Mountain Miss Fits)
15. Lindsay Wetzel Polin (Sprintin’ Kitten)
1. Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized)
2. Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized)
3. Scott Chapin (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS)
4. Max Judelson (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS)
5. Kirt Fitzpatrick (Ornot)
6. Sean Estes (Muscle Milk/Specialized)
7. Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen)
8. Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law)
9. Mason Bond (Felt Cycles)
10. Chris McGovern (Real Wheels Bike Shop)
11. Gareth Feldstein (Famous Horseman)
12. Sam Cerruti (Family Cycling Center/Ibis)
13. Rainier Schaefer (MashSF)
14. Andrew Nelson (Viva La Tarte/Huckleberry Bicycles)
15. Jules Goguely (Rhode Island School of Design)
16. Curtis Smith (Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada/Reliable)
17. Erik Nelson (Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada)
Single Speed A
1. Ron Shevock (Folsom Bikes)
2. Cesar Chavez (Ibis/Buy-cell.com)
3. Justin Paulson (Victory Velo Racing)
4. Peter Knudson (Squid)
5. Rich Maile (GFR)
6. Ryan Rinn (Vive La Tarte CX)
7. Dan Sovereign (The Bicycle Business)
8. Kell McKenzie (Broakland)
9. Clint Holtzen (Bike Dog)
10. Tim Canard (Ibis/Buy-cell.com)
11. Kurt Rummel (REVS/Twin Six)
12. Spencer Fields
13. Morgan Allen (Broakland)
Full results are available at TimeYourRace.com.