The fit race 'cross and 'cross gets 'em filthy!

‘Tis the Off-Season

Now that that race at Sea Otter is well in the past, the 2013-14 season for cyclocross is by and large complete…or is it rather the next has just begun? In any case, Fit and Filthy begins its look to the next season and readers are invited to return to this site for coverage of cyclocross news and information from across Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Beforehand, though, here are a few reflections on last season’s racing, including photographs.

Tao Bernardi (Cal Giant) Drops through the Wooded Section at Folsom Cyclebration

Tao Bernardi (Cal Giant) Drops through the Wooded Section at Folsom Cyclebration

The season’s racing began sunny and hot in early September, with temperatures in the nineties at the Folsom Cyclebration Cyclocross. ‘Cross meets spanned from Santa Cruz to Windsor to Reno to Fresno. The California dusty summer after the summer extended well into October and racers toiled away in good form. Murphy Mack and his crew put together a brand new series, aptly named NorCal Cyclocross. The Homegrown Series temporarily imploded, under an ugly open “discussion” on social media that just lacked good form. And the SacCXers again closed out their season with a naked cyclocross race…for the third year running. Very little better than ‘crossers letting it all hang out!

The Sacramento Cyclocross Series opened its season at Lagoon Valley Park. With the big run-up from 2012 excluded, the course looked to become a tame warm-up for the year to follow. Even the NOAA weather-forecaster’s prediction, of 10% chance for light rain, was uninspiring. Yet, proving once and again that forecasters are unable to predict yesterday’s weather next week, on race day the skies just opened up…by the buckets!

The outcome became cyclocross racing true to a more traditional bent – filthiness for the fit.

Eric Bustos (Cal Giant) Proudly Sporting a 'Cross Face

Eric Bustos (Cal Giant) Proudly Sporting a ‘Cross Face

Cass Laizure (Missing Link) Plows the Lagoon Valley Course

Cass Laizure (Missing Link) Plows the Lagoon Valley Course

Sagebrush Cyclocross is small series, racing out of Reno, with a dedicated group of organisers and competitors. Race Director Erica Greif put together a tidy set of races with help from Nick Schaffner, Noah Silverman, and many, many others. The Truckee race, with portions of the course running through pump and BMX tracks, became a terrific introduction to cyclocross for youngsters drawn by the Truckee Bike Park.

Many of the Sagebrush venues are right in the backyard of Katerina Nash…and the Luna racer graced the Clayton Middle School race. Nash acknowledged the appearance was a tune-up but her athletic prowess on display was simply a delight.

Katerina Nash (Luna) Gracing the Field at Sagebrush

Katerina Nash (Luna) Gracing the Field at Sagebrush

Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law) on the BMX Track at Truckee

Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law) on the BMX Track at Truckee

The September-heavy CCCX series put 2013-14 into full-swing with an opening double-header weekend. Both Elite fields heavily featured the Red Berries from Cal Giant, including top-notch youngsters Tobin Ortenblad and Cody Kaiser. Meredith Miller and San Francisco-resident Elle Anderson battled well against each other and the field in exciting early-season racing. Both Anderson and Miller went onto successful seasons, placing second and third respectively at Nats. Anderson also won the USA Cycling Pro Cyclo-cross Caldendar and placed fifteenth at Worlds in Hoogerheide, the third of three USA women in the top twenty.

Cal Giants Miller and Anderson Battle at the CCCX Opening Weekend

Cal Giants Miller and Anderson Battle at the CCCX Opening Weekend

The inaugural NorCal Cyclocross Series, building on previous venues with the Kitten of Vallejo and Stafford Lake, brought in three additional locations. The Lion of Fairfax event ran at Foothill College in Los Altos whilst Cougar and SupCat respectively ran at Montgomery Hill and Lake Cunningham Parks in San Jose.

Along with the famed Belgium Wall, NorCal CX races were replete with demanding barriers. Right from the get-go at San Jose Cougar, the plank barrier at the bottom of one of the highest climbs, throughout Northern California/Nevada cyclocross races, set the tone for the series. Later races saw moving hay-bales, jump ramps, and much sand. Murphy Mack’s philosophy of producing challenging races was evident throughout the year. Mack and his crew maintained their Single Speed’s Worlds caliber by producing courses that elicited many a groan but definitely brought out that satisfaction that follows an almighty effort.

Colour Coordinated Race Kit and Cougar Plank Barriers - Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law)

Colour Coordinated Race Kit and Cougar Plank Barriers – Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law)

Kristen Drumm (Left) and Katie Jay Melena (Rock Lobster) at the Belgium Farm Wall

Kristen Drumm (Left) and Katie Jay Melena (Rock Lobster) at the Belgium Farm Wall

Loss of the Golden Gate Park venue the previous season was felt throughout the local cyclocross community and many remain besides themselves over the missing staple for Northern California ‘cross. Substituting three visits to Candlestick Point instead has many detractors but the BASP series remains a big draw.

This year the 49ers move to a new stadium but Candlestick Park may survive until even later in 2014…courtesy of a concert featuring Paul McCartney and tag-football with Joe Montana and Dan Marino. Is it true McCartney was in another group before the Wings? Eventually the stadium comes down and a brand new backdrop will appear at the venue.

BASP did toy with hosting a 2014 UCI race, coinciding with Cross Vegas 2014, but Tom Simpson reports “it’s a ‘No Go’ from USAC’s standpoint. We can’t get inscribed on the UCI calendar for 2014 without participating in the previous year’s [CXNC] calendar of events. Even with our past record of 8 UCI events it creates a major protocol hassle for them to allow us onto the calendar. Big disappointment – even Peter van den Abeele was enthusiastic but Brook Watts was unable to get any traction with Colorado Springs.”

The Last Time for this BASP Backdrop to Paule Bates (Roaring Mouse) going over the Barriers?

The Last Time for this BASP Backdrop to Paule Bates (Roaring Mouse) going over the Barriers?

The region has eight active series for cyclocross. Racers had their pick of 41 events over 17 weekends. Even so, there was still room for El Dorado Hills, one of the few local one-off events. The El Dorado course, running in its second year, straddles around an old golf-course with terrain from green grass to red dirt…the green stuff is a little bit in the minority throughout regional ‘cross courses, courtesy of the brown and dusty continuing summer.

Bike Monkey’s Santa Rosa Cup is a self-proclaimed “much vaunted prize” but the series boasts generous and equal prize monies for both genders. Many a racer admits to racing for The Cup in support of this stance. According to the Bike Monkey web site, “as for guys vs. gals, the payouts are all the same, dudes and ladies. Why anyone would do this differently baffles us, but whatever. We’re committed to making plain sense, we guess.”

Reese "Rotten" Gary (Team Revolutions) Suitcases his Bike for an El Dorado Hills' Plank Barrier

Reese “Rotten” Gary (Team Revolutions) Suitcases his Bike for an El Dorado Hills’ Plank Barrier

Michelle Nightingale in amongst the Santa Rosa Cup Course Tape

Michelle Nightingale in amongst the Santa Rosa Cup Course Tape

A list of series winners appears here. Well done and thank you to all competitors, organisers, and volunteers for a terrific 2013-14 ‘cross season.

 
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