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

McGovern and Thomas Profit from Flat Tyres

20 September 2014
Archie Clayton Middle School

Sagebrush Cyclocross Series

Both Hollie McGovern (Real Wheels) and Justin Thomas (Audi) kept themselves in their races and in positions to take advantage of any misfortunes for the leaders. In the Elite Women’s and Men’s races, Erica Greif (Reno Wheelmen) and Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) held early and commanding leads only to see their races scuppered by flat tyres. Following the old adage to never give up, McGovern and Thomas were first to cross finish lines and win.

Erica Greif in a Strong Race Early

Erica Greif in a Strong Race Early

Change of Venue
Led by Race Director Erica Greif, organizers pulled off a quick venue change at the season opener of the Sagebrush Cyclocross Series. A plethora of goat heads at the original Peavine Creek Dam locale, anywhere from five to 20 per reconnaissance lap, effectively nixed the site for a cyclocross race. With good fortune and a good relationship with the Principle, an overnight move to a staple of the Sagebrush series, the Archie Clayton Middle School, occurred with a minimal of fuss for race-participants.

Together, Noah Silverman and Nick Schaffner laid out a course that would absolutely tax racers. A mostly grass surface, it had several tight turns, used as much of the elevation changes as available on the school grounds, and employed obligatory stretches of off-camber. Sagebrush has new plank barriers this season but Silverman also took advantage of some of the playground features for other barriers.

Schaffner filled out the front side of the course and, the night before, selected lines on grass with most of the off-camber. At that time, the grass was dry but this changed with heavy watering the next morning. The conditions made for difficult riding through thick and wet grass. Even though some areas dried out as the day drew on, sections near start finish remained soggy the entire day. Many racers clearly became worn down as races wore on and many finished with heads down and shoulders hunched.

Misfortune for One, Good Fortune for Another
The difficult soggy grass did not become the ultimate race deciders. For the Elite Men’s race, Ortenblad lined up against the locals Schaffner (Marc Pro-Strava) and Silverman (Bootleg Courier) as well as Chris McGovern (Real Wheels) and Curtis Smith (Sierra Nevada). Ortenblad’s talent saw the racer with a 6-second gap by the back side of the first lap. Bunny hopping the barriers with aplomb and speed would make for a difficult ask of the rest of the field.

Ortenblad taking the Plank Barriers in Stride

Ortenblad taking the Plank Barriers in Stride

The Cal Giant racer set the early pace and quickly built up a 26-second lead by the 7th lap. Behind Ortenblad, the chasing racer had changed from one rider to another. Early it was Justin Thomas (Audi) but a poorly executed attempt to bunny hop the plank barriers set back that challenge, at least temporarily. Schaffner would set about the task of reeling in Ortenblad but a throat ailment left Schaffner, toward the end, out of the race and heckling with a bull horn.

A mighty effort to keep Ortenblad from running away with the race came from McGovern. However, after the race he would admit to not performing at his best even on wet grass. The Real Wheels racer spent a couple of laps looking strong in second place but Ortenblad was holding a good pace and his lead.

Thomas Kept Himself in with a Chance to Win

Thomas Kept Himself in with a Chance to Win

As with the other races of the day, riders began to tire in the second half of the race. Ortenblad held a good lead. Thomas recovered from his mishap at the barriers and was now putting a steady but strong race in second place; secure in a podium finish, he clearly was not content to see Ortenblad ride away. And with good reason. At four to go, Ortenblad looked to be toiling and then came off the bike for a flat. Running the last short stretch before the pits and a bike change, the gap to second place was too small. It became a matter of time before Thomas caught and passed Ortenblad.

After taking over the lead, Thomas looked the racer with even more purpose and quickly began to build his gap until the race’s end. Ortenblad did take second place but was in good spirits afterwards knowing his race faltered through no fault of his own. McGovern rounded out the podium.

Thumbs Up for a Win

Thumbs Up for a Win

Needing a Replacement Bike
Earlier in the day, Erica Grief set about winning her race early and visibly put in a strong run. The diminutive rider was even keeping the early pace of some of the Category B Men on course at the same time. Hollie McGovern had a poor start to her race but held steady and stayed in. Late on, Greif suffered her flat on her single speed bike. A wheel change in the pits was too difficult so Greif resorted to running after for any other available bike. She was eventually able to rejoin the race but the damage was done and was too severe. McGovern took over the lead and went on to win.

McGovern Recovers from a Poor Start to Win the Race

McGovern Recovers from a Poor Start to Win the Race

Elite Men
1. Justin Thomas (Audi)
2. Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized)
3. Chris McGovern (Real Wheels)
4. Curtis Smith (Sierra Nevada)
5. Noah Silverman (Bootleg Courier)

Elite Women
1. Hollie McGovern (Real Wheels)
2. Erica Greif (Reno Wheelmen)
3. Paige Galeoto (Reno Wheelmen)
4. Jenny Frayer (Reno Wheelmen)
DNF – Kim Vandersyde

Photograph Gallery

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