Comes Highly Recommended
17 November 2015
This past weekend’s 3-day Santa Rosa Cup CX closed out on Sunday at the Spring Lake Park venue. Reviews are glowing from all days, on social media, and from many of the racers themselves. After her win at the Friday Night race, the Rock Lobster rider Caroline Dezendorf lauded the Santa Rosa Cup as her favourite series, saying “I think they do a really good job and I love supporting Bike Monkey.” Saturday’s Master Men 45+ winner Robert “Buckwheat” Meighan praised the work done by Carlos Perez while Gavin Haley extolled the courses and organization. “I thought it was really well done,” said Haley. “Out of the races I’ve done [in NorCal], these have been the best put-together courses. Everything was really smooth and on time. I would definitely recommend it. It was really good to kink out some fitness problems and was also a really fun 3 days.”
The event had tremendous competition with the likes of Dezendorf, Kristin Drumm (CX Nation), Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels), Walton Brush (MashSF), Haley, Chelsea Weidinger (MashSF), Sage Alderbaran (CX Nation), Paul Haley (Rad Racing), and Joe Fabris (Plus 3) racing on all three of the days. Meighan was joined by many of his Cal Giant teammates in Eric Bustos, Brian Finnerty, and James Coates. Rachel Lloyd (Cal Giant/Specialized) ran out for Master Men on the Sunday, flatted, and then raced against the top category women. Teams well represented across the weekend included Aracata’s Adventure’s Edge, Ornot, Fresh Air-Hunter, Dfl, and Vive La Tarte. The Tarte Ryan Rinn raced gears instead of entering his usual single-speed races. Dfl’s Patrick Myall’s ride up the big Spring Lake hill proved the triumphant move in Sunday’s Men A 45+.
The event began with the Friday Night race at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and came complete with a right-angled flyover, smoke, laser beams, and a barrier of beer kegs to race around or jump over. Spectators celebrated the night away cheering on racers negotiating the smoke and barrels. The same fast course returned the next day in reverse with an added hill and run-ups/ride-ups. Although short, the venue provided a pedallers course with its long straights punctuated by mostly single turns.
Spring Lake Park
And to crown the series, a return to Spring Lake Regional Park followed the rains in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The long, rangey course tested the fitness of those racing on all 3 days as it did the bike handling skills of all riders. As it had in 2011, a winding technical section after the start line began the race before a transition across the dam into the longer section of rocky, tyre chewing single-track, more technical turns, and elevation changes up and down soft and muddy terrain.
The return to the finish line brought riders back to the dam, up a double-inclined run-up/ride-up, before another transition through the tricky rock garden. Going up the dam’s incline in the morning was a task of searching for the best line as the rains left the ground extremely slippery. With the wind and sun drying out the mud, the later races saw opportunities for racers to ride up the big hill to face the full brunt of any hecklers at the top. With blue sky appearing just before the first race of the day, terrain, conditions, and weather added to a terrific weekend.
Dezendorf’s start to the 2015-16 season, a big splash, saw a marvelous effort against Rachel Lloyd at The Lobster Cup. On this day, however, after racing on two consecutive days, keeping up with the Cal Giant racer was more challenging on already tested legs and the long, difficult course. Nevertheless, with her season going well, Dezendorf was in good stead for the overall series win after two victories for Women A. Lloyd wasted little time putting behind the flat tyre suffered in the Masters race, getting away to an early lead and dominating the affair. Riding up to the top of the dam was an impressively smooth feat to witness.
Dezendorf’s competition on the day came from Kristin Drumm and Chelsea Weidinger; both appeared on a podium in one of the two previous days and a mechanical could have seen one of them wrest the Cup. Drumm and Weidinger kept themselves in the race but so did Dezendorf as she secured second place for the series title. Weidinger took third on the day ahead of Drumm. Heather Pugh’s (Fresh Air-Hunter) appearance on the day earned her a fifth place result. Michelle Morrill (Team Roaring Mouse) and Erin Stone (Vive La Tarte) respectively placed sixth and seventh after they too appeared in all three races of the weekend.
“Rachel’s fast,” quipped Dezendorf, “and any time she shows up you know its going to be a challenging race. My goal was to stay up with her and I just couldn’t even do that. My legs were not having it. Rachel’s a friend and I was happy to race against her and its always great to have fast women in these races. It makes you push yourself a bit more.
“It was a good weekend. Definitely today was by far the best day of racing. It was nice to have a 3-day series and push for a good training weekend. This course today was awesome and I was definitely excited to have this be the last day. I think Bike Monkey does a great job; it was a well-run event, fun courses, and very enjoyable weekend.”
Brush Overcomes a Flat
The early portion of the Men’s A race saw the same protagonists up front. Amongst the leaders, Walton Brush raced to protect his lead for the Cup. Gareth Feldstein continued to impress the NorCal Nevada ‘cross scene as the engineer-by-day held his own at the sharp end. On this day, other early leaders included Ryan Rinn with gears, and Glenn Fant (NorCal Bikes). Cameron Falconer (Fresh Air-Hunter) and Kurt Wolfgang (Marin Bikes) also had their nose in the game.
Also amongst the early leaders, Gavin Haley (Giant Factory Team) had unfortunate luck on both the previous day’s racing despite either vying for the lead or in a downright top-notch position for the win. At Spring Lake, Haley looked to make amends and managed a late-race break. He was alone and out front. One of the main competitors in Walton Brush had by this point in the race suffered a flat and sat in jeopardy of missing out on the Cup. Feldstein continued to put in a hard day’s work though off the pace of Haley. Hanging back, another threat came in the form of Levi Leipheimer (NorCal Bikes).
Midway through the race, Leipheimer repeated his race from the day before, coming from well behind the leader to bridge up and set the pace. Hope still held for Haley as he managed a small gap ahead on the penultimate lap. But the hilly section at the back of the course proved decisive as Leipheimer put in his fastest lap of the race to take the win.
“I like to not blow up in the beginning,” described Leipheimer, “but also I don’t have the skills that they do at the start and over the barriers. I’m nervous to get in somebody’s way and screw them up. I like to get comfortable first and make my way around. Gavin [Haley] is one of the best in his age group in the country and it’s really cool to see him ride because he has so much skill. He’s a Santa Rosa boy and, I think, for me to come out here and push is good for him. I wasn’t pushing him in the technical parts but in the uphills.
“Bike Monkey always does a great job in their races and obviously I’m very close to those guys. I think they do a great job and the word should and will spread about the quality of these races.”
Reflecting on being so close to winning on all three of the races, Haley said “I didn’t really know what to expect. The course was the best today, for sure. Though I was really tired, because it’s 3 days, I think I had the most fun today even though I didn’t win. It was good to have a solid all around ride with no mechanical issues or bad luck.
“I went early on. That’s the only way I can really beat Levi [Leipheimer]. He can drop me on the last lap or I can go early. I was jumping the barriers to see if I could get a small gap there. I looked back because I didn’t want him to sit behind and sling shot past me. We were still together with one to go but he still got away from me. There’s a climb in the back and I made the mistake of letting him go into it in front of me. He had two more gears. I couldn’t follow him; I was tired and pretty done.”
Walton Brush overcame his flat tyre, moved up a couple of places to fifth late in the race to take the Cup. Fant missed out on the podium with a fourth-place finish. Feldstein’s grab of the last step of the podium also earned him second place overall in the series. Haley’s racing across the weekend impressed many as he finished second at Spring Lake and third for the Cup.
Daniel Barlach – Men C
John Harris – Men C 35+
Alyssa Reyna – Women C
Walton Brush – Men A
Caroline Dezendorf – Women A
Paul Haley – Men U15
Olivia Lawson – Women Junior
Joe Fabris – Men 55+
Sage Alderbaran – Men A 35+
Robert Meighan – Men A 45+
Marcus Catania – Men B 35+
Scott Reeves – Men B 45+
Shanna Sauer – Women 35+
Renee Shelton – Women 45+
Duncan Nason – Men B
Brian Staby – Singlespeed A
Edward Dorsey – Singlespeed B
Melsa Smith – Women B
Full results appear at the Santa Rosa Cup CX webpage