Wet and Tough at Lembi Park
2 November 2015
The first of the NorCal Nevada season with rain during the races played out this past Sunday in Folsom. The Sacramento Cyclocross Series moved along Riley Street to the other side of Blue Ravine for the second event of the weekend. The Lakeside Church venue was hot and dusty but Lembi Park proved to be another climate altogether. In proof again that the forecaster is unable to predict yesterday’s weather next week, the threatening skies became rainfall some four to 6 hours before the prognostications.
As always at Lembi Park, the course went through the volleyball sand pit with its ever changing race lines. Once the rain did come down, the already difficult traction along other portions of the course became even more challenging. Off-cambers on green and dry grass and packed dirt featured heavily along the 1.7-mile circuit. The downhill off-camber sections threw down the gauntlet in front of racers as did one steep run-up and a second run-up populated with four plank barriers, though somewhat less steep. With sharp turns into and out of the off-cambers, technical skills and good bike handling were the order of the day.
Young Wins with Glee
Julie Young (Roseville Cyclery) kept up her perfect performance for Women A at SacCX in adding a win at Lembi Park. She wore an immense smile afterwards as her field were first to run the entire race under wet conditions. Young is relatively new to cyclocross and she reveled in her performance, learning, the ‘cross conditions, and being part of the ‘cross community. The former road racer is simply thrilled with everything that goes into cyclocross in particular the effort of the event promoters and organizers.
Holly McGovern (Real Wheels) was hard into the lead on the first lap and she led Sonya Looney (FreakShow DeFeet/Powered by COOLMAX® Ecomade) in a fast-paced charge ahead of Young. McGovern and Looney were a determined pair with the previous day’s winner hot on their heels. There was promise of an exciting battle among several riders, as JT Teerlink (Dirt Birds) and the Roaring Mouse duo of Sarah Powers and Emily Sportsman pursued hard early, but eventually it was the Roseville Cyclery racer racing away for the spoils.
Late in the race, Sportsman took over second place as she completed an outstandingly consistent set of lap times in the difficult and variable conditions. Racers wore out the grass and tree roots exposed at some locations would tear up under multiple bicycle wheels, altering the complexion of many corners. McGovern made it to the third step of the podium ahead of Looney in fourth and Powers in fifth.
The race for Men A also started furiously as Scott Hooper (Real Wheels) put in a massive effort for the early lead. Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen) also raced hard and he joined Hooper for the first lap lead ahead of Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels) in third. As the previous day’s winner, all eyes looked for a move from Feldstein to take over the lead and he eventually did take a share of time up front after moving ahead of Hooper.
Thomas followed past Hooper and was equal to Feldstein with the pair exchanging positions as the leader. Hooper’s early effort took a toll and he would eventually drop out of contention for the win. Mike Larson (Velo Reno) was next to threaten but he would only repeat his previous day’s result of fourth place. After a slow first lap, Mason Bond (Real Wheels) would make up ground and take sixth place as he thrilled spectators bunny hopping all four barriers on an uphill slope. Bond was led by fifth place finisher Duncan Nason whose racing age of 16 impressed the crowd and Gheto CX’s chief heckler.
Starting the race still fitting into the last arm of his skinsuit, and following an unfortunate first-lap crash, Jonathan Baker (Chico Masters) was well over 30 seconds off the first lap pace and nowhere in contention for the early lead. After stringing together seven of the fastest ten laps of the race, Baker demonstrated the bike handling skills on this tough course that earned two Master 35+ National Championships in Bend Oregon.
At three laps into the race, Baker was nearly 40 seconds behind the leader Scott Hooper and sitting in eighth place. From there he would master the course and his competitors eventually taking over the lead from then leader Justin Thomas. Putting in his two best lap times of the race, the Reno Wheelmen racer would stay close to Baker. But the pace always lagged and Baker gradually pulled away for a winning margin of 29 seconds, turning round a deficit of 36 seconds.
“I made a last minute decision to take my undershirt off,” explained Baker. “I might have been given some incorrect information on how long we had to the start but I had the whole top to my skinsuit off. I pedaled no-hands at the back of the race for the first 300m and had to pass everybody.
“I was just better on the technical stuff. Once I saw the head of the race I got a gap quickly. There were several sections that I was riding considerably faster than the other guys so that made the difference. I’m surprised I did well because I’ve come off a little bit of a layoff. I’m trying to build up for a run at Cross Nats. This is my first race in 6 weeks. The muddiness played into my factor as I may have had an experience edge on some on these guys in some of the tougher conditions.”
The race was an impressive performance by Baker and a shot across the bow of sorts of his return. He plans to race a couple times a month in the region or wherever USAC points are available.
1. Julie Young (Roseville Cyclery)
2. Emily Sportsman (Team Roaring Mouse)
3. Hollie McGovern (Real Wheels)
4. Sonya Looney (FreakShow DeFeet/Powered by COOLMAX® Ecomade)
5. Sarah Powers (Team Roaring Mouse)
6. Audrey Biehle (Dirt Birds)
7. Anna Poehlmann (Dirt Birds)
8. Amanda Seigle (Jakroo Racing)
9. Jennifer Teerlink (Dirt Birds)
1. Jonathan Baker (Chico Masters)
2. Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen)
3. Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels)
4. Michael Larson (Velo Reno)
5. Duncan Nason
6. Mason Bond (Real Wheels)
7. Scott Hooper (Real Wheels)
8. AJ Snovel (Hifi CX)
9. Nick Schaffner (Herbalife p/b Marc Pro-Strava)
10. Tim Bolton (KLIMIT Coaching)
11. Jeffrey Salvitti (Caffienated Cyclist)
12. James Williams (Adventure’s Edge)
13. James Stonich (Mikes Bikes)
14. Antonio Miranda (SGW)
15. Nicholas Terzakis (BEERxSQUID)
16. Phillip Violett (Auburn Ski Club/SQUID)
17. Bailey Eckles (Team SoCalCross)
18. Chris Namba (BEERxSQUID)
19. Robert Terra (Bikes and Bites)