Dalton, Judelson, and Shevock Conquer the Creeks
7 December 2014
Yesterday’s Kitten of Vallejo at Dan Foley Park saw a reconstruction from some of the very historic early days of cyclocross, or steeplechasing. The SuperPro 2014 NorCal Cyclocross Series is well renowned for extraordinary courses that add that extra challenge to bicycle racing. And the Kitten was in keeping with Murphy Mack’s reputation as the course both criss-crossed one creek multiple times and ran along another. As though high-stepping through shallow puddles was insufficient, plank barriers dammed the flowing water, courtesy of the recent rains, to create swollen, deep muddy pools.
This was all on top of “Wood Chip Hill”, a climb that made running a sensible option if only to avoid clogging up the bicycle with organic matter. Other sections of the course saw a short, steep run-up, a technical tortuosity section, that may have convinced many that Murphy Mack owns stock in barricade tape, and power-sapping grassy hill climbs.
The race for Elite Men turned into a straight-forward affair for Max Judelson (Rock Lobster/Voler/Steven’s Creek BMW/HRS) as he simply dominated from the first lap. Judelson was the first to reach the top of Wood Chip Hill and he just simply expanded his gap from there. The only flaw in his race-day was missing out on a cash prize for equalling his last lap time in an extra circuit. Judelson gave it a shot and his all but rolled a tire.
Janie Dalton (First Republic/Missing Link) also had a commanding win in her race for Elite Women. Behind her, team mate Emily Thurston slipped on the wet grass mid-way through the race to relinquish her position. Chris Lundy (ThirstyBear Cycling) pounced on the opportunity and bravely held off Thurston for second place. Lundy raced back in fifth place coming off the grassy hill on the first lap, making her podium-finish even more rewarding.
The most exciting top race of the day took place in Single Speed Men A, although it came down to some final lap drama. Ryan Rinn (Vive La Tarte/Huckleberry Bicycles) was another to reach the top of Wood Chip Hill first; he was ahead of strong competition in Ron Shevock (Folsom Bikes/Raley’s). Any early promise for tête à tête racing between the pair quickly vanished as Rinn built up a seemingly insurmountable gap.
“On the first lap at the first hill,” remarked Shevock, “Ryan took the lead and I was on his tire. He put a big gap on me. There was a low tree and he rode underneath it but I had to get off to run underneath. When he did that he must have gapped me by 15 seconds. Then he just kept rolling it and it [the gap] may have got close to a minute.
“With three-to-go I started seeing somebody in sight but he had a different colored bike so I wasn’t sure it was Rinn. As I got closer I said ‘That’s him and he’s doing pits.’ It seemed like he had slowed down and I began making ground.”
Coming into finish line area, Shevock was ahead of Rinn for the first time since the beginning lap. The two were close as they rounded the tape into the sand pit. Shevock’s line failed him as he faltered on his bike and Rinn leapt back to the front. A few turns and the triple plank barriers, and their treacherous water hazard, were all that remained between Rinn and victory but both racers made it over and through the creek.
“We seemed to make a lot of mistakes in the last half of the last lap,” continued Shevock. “I passed Rinn right at the top [of Wood Chip Hill] and seemed to get a couple of seconds. In the sand pit, I took my turn too wide and ran into the stake. Rinn got back around me and gunned it.”
After pitting earlier in the race onto a bike poorly set up for Rinn, another blow struck the orange-clad racer. Rinn’s bike shorts snagged his seat during the remount after the plank barriers. The bobble was enough for Shevock to call for and take the inside line into the next corner and that was the race. Shevock crossed the finish line clearly ecstatic over the victory but closed with a dose of reality. “It could have gone either way. It easily could have been me because I messed up fifteen remounts today. It was a timing thing.”