Enter Fresno County CX on the San Joaquin
28 September 2014
The inaugural season for Fresno County Cyclocross (FCCX) kicked off yesterday on the San Joaquin River at Lost Lake Recreation Area. Race promotor Justin Morgan set up one of those challenging courses that racers hold a begrudging satisfaction in even finishing. Yet, by Morgan’s own admission, too little promotion had the result of a poor turnout. Even with USAC points on the line, fields were small, though Morgan remains optimistic for the remainder of the FCCX season. But, those that did race were able to enjoy (suffer) a course that was cerebral, technical, and gratifying.
The picturesque park below the Friant Dam and the warm, breezy weather set the stage for FCCX’s first race of their four-event series. The course had two different complexions strung back-to-back. On mostly fire road and pavement, riders needed power and speed to tackle the uphills and fast corners. The interruption of a sand pit, the length of a volleyball court, was the only slow portion of this portion of the course.
The second portion was highly technical. Soft terrain, off-camber, and twisting turns were topped by near 180° turns into off-camber climbs. Racers had to carefully consider the best tactic of running or riding through these challenges. Warm-ups witnessed riders repeating sections several times to find the best line. For the race, riders were off the bike as many as eight or nine times each lap.
The last race of the day had the Open Men’s and Women’s A fields on course simultaneously. Felicia Gomez (ICE p/b Pinnacle Training Systems) took the early lead at the first uphill with her team mate Sumer Avila and Ruste Sasser (ibis/Buy-cell.com) in close quarters. Gomez appeared in control and would gradually lengthen the gap to Avila, running in second.
The race never looked so close as the moment Sasser passed Avila and took over second place. With the race pace tiring, Sasser put herself in a position to close the gap to Gomez through technical sections. Gomez responded to the challenge through the fast sections, taking full control and the top step of the podium. Sasser finished in second with Avila completing her race in third.
For the Open Men’s race, Jason Nearn (Academy Racing) and Jon Stewart (Dayka-Hackett) were first up the early-lap climb and battled each other for the first two laps. Sitting up at the back, Jim Pappe (Spy Giant Ride p/b MRI) was realizing he was at a disadvantage of failing to survey the complete course ahead of the race. Once through the two early laps, however, Pappe picked up the pace in search of the race lead.
Pappe took over second from Stewart and for a while raced about 10 seconds in arrears of the leading Nearn. For a few more laps, the gap stabilized lending promise to Nearn’s race. At 26 minutes in, Pappe closed in on Nearn at one of the sandy tight turns. Coming out of the turn, Nearn was unable to respond and Pappe was quickly in front. The new leader was unable to pull away at first but maintained his pace to take command of the race. The jovial Spy Giant racer crossed the finish line for the win with a big satisfying grin on his face. Nearn took second place with Stewart closing out the podium.
1. Felicia Gomez (ICE p/b Pinnacle Training Systems)
2. Ruste Sasser (ibis/Buy-cell.com)
3. Sumer Avila (ICE p/b Pinnacle Training Systems)
1. Jim Pappe (Spy Giant Ride p/b MRI)
2. Jason Nearn (Academy Racing)
3. Jon Stewart (Dayka-Hackett)
4. Jamison Norby (Off The Front)
5. Eric Henson (Integrity Racing p/b Integrity Roofing)
More photos from the racing from Cranking Glass.