Lobster Bake at Sierra Point – Updated
8 November 2015
Yesterday, under dry and dusty conditions, BASP began its 2015 season with the Sierra Point Night Race. As the last time for this race under the management of Tom and Alex Simpson it almost failed to get underway. With thousands of dollars invested in lights, portable toilets, and fencing, a late request to alter the insurance for the race almost scuppered the entire event. Surely down to their prowess as event promoters, the problem was resolved late on Friday afternoon; spectators and racers got to have their fill of the Sierra Point Night Race.
With the Tabletop eliminated from use, due to abuse by mechanized-wheeled fun-seekers, the course had a very different complexion than seen in previous years. Back were the Summit Suffer Bridge and and TRP Brake Zone plank barriers but there was only one very difficult change in elevation and very few opportunities along the circuit for the flamboyant side of cyclocross. The plank barriers, placed as they were in loose, gritty sand, had very few people bunny-hopping. Even Ben Gomez-Villafañe (Muscle Milk/Specialized), always one to take on the planks at full tilt, carried the bike during his race.
Nevertheless, there was plenty of good racing to accompany that vibe only a night ‘cross race brings out. After all was said and done, Paul Sadoff’s Rock Lobster Cyclocross Team took honours for the top category Men and Women in two characteristically different races. Max Judelson won in a sprint finish over Walton Brush (MashSF) to follow up Caroline Dezendorf pulling away for her second win in as many years at this race. In other race coverage, David Condon (Elevation Bike) overcame a first lap break by Josh Tabije (Caletti Cycles) for a strong win racing in Master Men B 35+.
Dezendorf Makes it Two-in-a-Row
Dezendorf has suffered in the past waiting for an opportunity to stake a claim to her races. But this season, this race broke away from her earlier tactics. The Rock Lobster racer was keen to reach the dirt after the straight-away at the start and her reward was missing the mêlée of a crowd negotiating the transition off the pavement.
Head down and pressing hard at the back of the course, Dezendorf was initially joined by Kristin Drumm (CX Nation), Karen Brems (Sun Power), and teammate Campbell Steers as the leaders. Brems likewise put her head down and eventually formed a two-racer break with Dezendorf. Behind this pair, a battle emerged between Drumm, Steers, Christina Peck (Moth Attack CX), Caitlin Bernstein, Jessica Culnane (Vive La Tarte), and Tanya Grossman (LGBRC). Steers consolidated a hold on third as Drumm dropped back. Bernstein and Peck settled fourth place at the finish line with Bernstein besting their tête-à-tête. Culnane took sixth place by 3 seconds ahead of Drumm.
The tussle for the win between Brems and Dezendorf looked to become a repeat of last year’s race that came down to a sprint finish. This time, however, Brems’ race would suffer from a bobble and she covered one side of her kit with the dusty topsoil. Dezendorf took advantage and rode away for the win, always looking strong in maintaining the gap to Brems, and backing up last year’s victory.
“I didn’t think [a gap] would come that early,” said Dezendorf. “Karen [Brems] made a bobble but right before I was thinking ‘maybe I should let Karen lead for a while so I didn’t have to do all the work.’ She made a little mistake and I capitalized on it, tried to open up a gap, and get away from her.
“I wanted to have a clean race last year. Karen and I battled all the way to the end and we both made a lot of mistakes. This year my goal was to have a clean race and stay out in front as early as I could. I think I accomplished that pretty well and made sure to not let up at all.”
Extending the Streak
Over fifty racers took to the field for Men A and the early pace was fast. Within a couple of laps, three racers emerged as the leaders as Scott Chapin (Santa Cruz Factory Racing) led Brush and Judelson around the course. Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels) was harrying a few seconds back in fourth place. Chapin was on track for a fourth win in as many years with evident determination in his demeanour but neither Judelson nor Brush allowed Chapin an early gap.
Feldstein too wanted a say in the race win and late on he eliminated the gap to third place and put himself in contention. However, two dropped chains on the same lap, just as he caught the leaders, foiled his efforts and he would settle for fourth. Chapin was next to fall away as we was unable to hold the pace of Judelson and Brush. These two took the race down to the wire with a couple of lead changes on the last lap. Judelson raised his arms in elation as he sprinted to the win back on the paved finishing stretch.
“I’ve never raced close with Walton [Brush],” described Judelson, “I saw him a couple times on the East coast and he was racing really fast. I know he’s a track rider, has some track background, and has some serious road chops. I know I have a pretty good sprint but I didn’t really know what was happening. I got it in a pretty good gear out of the corner and I just ramped it up.
“Walton made a really good pass [late]. I got a little crazy and almost took us both out but it worked out good and both of us were safe. I was psyched about this. Somebody told me Lobsters have won this race since 2008 and I thought the pressures on now. So I was happy. It’s always good to win and win a race for your team.”
These results are a testament to Paul Sadoff in putting racers on the podium for one of the bigger races on the NorCal Nevada calendar. Sadoff definitely has a knack for bringing great racers in the region onto the Rock Lobster cyclocross team.
Earlier in the day, in the race for Master Men B 35+, Josh Tabije (Caletti Cycles) stormed away for a first lap lead that broached 10 seconds. Pace gave Tabije the privilege of getting onto the dirt well in front of the entire field and he set about matching some of his other results this season. By the second lap, however, David Condon (Elevation Bike Company) turned a 10 second deficit into a 7 second advantage over Tabije. Despite slowing to take high-fives from hecklers and spectators, Condon grew his gap to a 17-second win.
“I started at the back and stayed all the way to the right of the group,” explained Condon, “because everybody tries to get the build up on the curb. I missed the mêlée because I went around to the right side and jumped the curb. I wasn’t that far back. Getting on to the asphalt I made up a good bit of time.
“One of the turns on the second lap [Tabije] went straight through the tape and off the course. It’s easy to pass him when he’s not on the course. I was in front of him for one point but he got in front of me but ran off course again. The gap was pretty much even all the way around. If he hadn’t gone off course it would have been great duking out with him.”
About 20 seconds behind Tabije, a scrap developed between James Bender (Evergreen), Niall Murphy, Ken Mejica (CA Technologies), and John Caletti (Caletti Racing). Midway through the race, Murphy held an advantage over Mejica though only 8 seconds covered the four racers. Both Mejica and Caletti would move ahead to take third and fourth, respectively. The gap between them at the finish was only 5 seconds. Murphy took the last place of the podium presentation as Bender finished in sixth.