Judelson Survives as Young Thrives
1 November 2015
It’s a rarity for one to go to a regional ‘cross meet without a positive outcome but some events can raise the bar higher. NorCal Nevada’s SacCX, at Lakeside Church yesterday, produced an excellent day of ‘cross racing as Jen and Clint Claassen continue to grow a marvelous series in the central valley. A Beer Garden serving terrific stout, food truck serving good food, and Gheto music from Woy and Hargrove, beginning, no less, with reggae Dark Side of the Moon, were simply outstanding. Yet these were still a precursor to the great racing throughout the day.
A small but exciting field lined up for Women A with Julie Young (Roseville Cyclery) deviating from her previous race strategies to storm away from the field. Behind Young, Holly McGovern (Real Wheels) and Colleen Wanty (Dolore Grotta/Big Swingin’ Bicycles) took the decision for second place to the final lap.
The race for Men A was one of those much sought-after fields with competitors from across the region. Spectators could drool over the line-up of Real Wheels team mates Curtis Smith, Scott Hooper, and Gareth Feldstein alongside Rock Lobster riders Kailin Waterman and Max Judelson. Add Mike Larson (Velo Reno) and AJ Snovel (HiFi CX) and one has themselves a race and a half.
Almost Throwing Away the Win
The course at Lakeside Church featured plenty of grass with an uphill and fast downhill paved section. A large portion of racing occurred over a gravel and packed dirt “parking lot” area with a loose top surface that even included deep, scoria-like sand. It was a sketchy portion of the course that forced racers to pay attention riding through the twists and turns.
A single plank barrier sat on grass close to the finish. A pair of planks, on packed dirt in the middle of a deceivingly fast downhill stretch, required racers to watch their speed else they fall foul of the barriers. Course designers also took advantage of garden walls to force riders off their bikes for a run-up. Though these were better met by dismounting from the drive side.
The Men’s A field was close during the first lap but key racers were already vying for position. Feldstein and Judelson were the first to reach the garden-wall run-up followed very closely by Larson. The same three riders led through the same section on the next lap with Mason Bond (Real Wheels) and Hooper taking up fourth and fifth places.
Gradually, Feldstein and Judelson would pull away up front followed a few seconds back by Bond. Hooper, Larson, and and Zach Heath (HiFi/Squid Cycling) fell back into a heady battle for fourth place. Feldstein and Judelson traded the lead as they maintained a 3 second gap over Bond. The battle for fourth would occur a further minute back.
Judelson was pushing hard on the loose dirt surface dicing with disaster coming out of some of the turns. Then, quite late in the race, he completely spilled after attempting to bunny hop the dual plank barriers. With his front wheel sliding out, the Rock Lobster racer hit the ground. He had just seconds to recover before Feldstein cleared the same barriers carrying his bike.
“I was pretty confident I was going to make it back together,” said Judelson. “These uphill straights into the wind, no matter how big a gap I had at the barrier, [Feldstein] was closing every lap. I was confident as long as I could stick it to the single barrier. I was drifting on the loose stuff but I felt pretty good because there was no faster way about it. On the straights I could have been pedaling harder.”
Judelson did indeed hold his position and by the next lap he and Feldstein were again vying for the lead. It came down to the final lap with both on each others wheel on the final grass section. The spoils went to Judelson with a margin of 2 seconds.
“I am pretty happy about [my season]. I didn’t do as well as I’d hope on the east coast but locally I’m feeling really good. I’m just learning a lot about racing cyclocross, tire pressure, when I should get to the race. Today I had a flat in warm ups and didn’t get here that early to ride the whole course. Over the winter I rode a lot more than I had on the east coast.”
Bond held onto the final step of the podium. Larson came out ahead in the battle for fourth fending off Heath in fifth and Hooper in sixth.
“Why not try something different?”
Earlier in the day, the race for Women A started off with Chelsea Weidinger (MashSF) grabbing the hole shot ahead of Colleen Wanty. Both Weidinger and Wanty remained up front toward the end of the first lap with Julie Young right on Wanty’s wheel. Holly McGovern raced in fourth place.
In many of her previous races, Young has held back until later in the race before attacking. This time, the Roseville Cyclery racer struck early and already managed a 20 second lead on the second lap ahead of McGovern. Weidinger and Wanty were still on each others wheel in third and fourth.
“I just take it race by race and see the complexion of the race. I thought why not try something different this time. It seemed like the pace of the race lent itself to that so I took the initiative. My greatest motivation was to get through the gravel part first just to see my own line.
“I loved the [course]. This really suited me because it wasn’t overly challenging. Certainly there are lots of twists and turns but for me being a roadie there were sections I could pedal. They do a great job.”
As Young continued to dominate the race, Weidinger fell off the pace late and the battle for second place eventually fell to Wanty and McGovern. McGovern took the prize on the final lap finishing ahead of Wanty by 3 seconds.
“Holly was stronger and I was really hanging on to be honest,” admitted Wanty. “I was using the draft and conserve theory. I haven’t raced in a couple of weeks because I’ve been a little sick. I just didn’t feel like I could go out there. Holly was really strong and I just tried to match her where I could.
“I really liked the course. I personally like courses with big climbs and big descents because I come from the mountain biking side. This road descent was a blast. You come down then you go into the grass turn and can hit it with a little speed.”
Young continues her terrific introduction to cyclocross taking her third win in three at SacCX. These add to other wins at Sagebrush CX and other categories this season. Planning to race at this weekend’s second SacCX race, Young believes her stage race background will help her out with recovery.