SacCX Races through The Sacramento
6 December 2015
Miller Park sits just below the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers on a narrow spit of land between the Sacramento River and the Sacramento Marina. The elongated 1.5-mile course resembles some drawn Japanese calligraphy and meanders with two directions side-by-side along a few stretches. Only short elevation changes appear along the mostly grass terrain. For one challenging run-up, course designer Clint Claassen sent racers down to a muddy beach and back up the embankment. Later in the day, combined with the wake from the odd water craft or two, the water rose high enough that some racers put wheels or feet into the cold Sacramento.
The penultimate race-day for the 2015 Sacramento Cyclocross Series followed earnest rains in mid week with as much as 5mm per hour at times. This damped down the dust and left slippery leaf-covered grass on the course early in the day. The latter races had much more firm terrain and good traction for riders to better manage the many off-camber sections.
Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels) continued his successful introduction to NorCal Nevada ‘cross and took another series-leading win in Men A. Likewise, Julie Young (Roseville Cyclery) again stood on the top step of a SacCX-podium after fending off a tough challenge from Ellen Sherrill (Rock Lobster), increasing the number of wins for Young’s first full season. For Women 35+, Kim Vendersyde (Reno Wheelwomen) represented the Nevada side of the region after driving over the big hill to put in dominating race.
The field for Men A was small but competitive. AJ Snovel (HifiCX) and Robert Terra (Bikes and Bites) sat on the start line, with Terra itching well before the whistle went off to hop the triple plank barriers during the race. Cormac Dunn (Clif Bar) arrived for the race with Feldstein and he put in plenty of work to stay at the sharp end of the race.
On the whistle, Scott Hooper (Real Wheels) and Feldstein dragged it out for the hole shot. The oft-fast starting Hooper reached the transition from paved road to grass first as Feldstein felt comfortable enough to bide his time. By the time the leaders dove down to the beach, Feldstein chose his racing line as the race’s leader.
Dunn slotted into second place followed by Hooper and both held their positions to the end of the race. Kell McKenzie (Broakland/King Kog) held fourth early but Phillip Violett (Auburn Ski Club/SQUID) would ride from a couple of positions back to cross ahead of McKenzie. Violett put in the pass of the race after getting around Nicholas Terzakis (BEERxSQUID) at the beach by taking the wet line.
Feldstein had his way with the race and strung together a number of early fast laps to give him the luxury of avoiding race-wrecking mistakes. “I didn’t know what to expect,” remarked Feldstein. “There weren’t too many people here so I thought I was alright. Cormac [Dunn] and he gave me a little scare for a couple of laps. I’m a little more patient and OK with sitting in third or fourth wheel for a while. I went to the front right before the river because I knew I wanted to be in front there first in case I screwed it up.”
On his first season in NorCal Nevada, Feldstein said, “It’s frickin’ great! I love it. Sac series is awesome and I’m very happy. It’s unexpected for sure. Not bad for an engineer by day and bike racer by night.”
Tough Two-Way Battle
Earlier in the day, the race for Women A was an exciting affair with the outcome decided after the final corner. Along with Young and Sherrill, Felicia Gomez (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18) made a rare appearance in this season’s cyclocross. SacCX stalwart Holly McGovern (Real Wheels) also kept the leaders honest. Despite Young’s success in a first full-year of cyclocross racing, this race was by no means a foregone conclusion.
McGovern led a train of racers reaching the grass on the first lap. Young and Sherrill then raced to the fore taking command of the lead by the end of the first circuit. Gomez moved up to third and her second lap promised more competition for the podium’s top step while Gomez held her own ahead of Young. But the battling Sherrill and Young strung together fast laps to edge ahead of third place. McGovern held down fourth place as a battle brewed over fifth between Cheryl Claes (Bell Real Estate Cycling), Nia Ransom (Sports Basement), and Jennifer Teerlink (Dirt Birds).
Sherrill and Young raced on each others wheel in the lead and kept the outcome unpredictable until the final lap. The strength of Young was perhaps better suited for this course and this proved the case. Sherrill’s technical skills always stand her in good stead but she needed a bigger gap over the final flat stretches. Rounding the final corner, Young had enough separation and kept on the pressure to secure the win. Sherrill’s disappointment crossing in second did not reflect the excellent effort she put in trying to wrest away a win from Young.
“I took the lead going into that first downhill, just wanting a good line,” described Young, “then Ellen [Sherrill] came on my inside and took the front. She set a hard pace the first lap out of the saddle. I just knew Ellen is so superior with her handling skills and I knew it would be hard to do anything early in the race.
“I sat back as it was a great opportunity for me to learn from one of the best cyclocross racers. [A sprint finish] was the only card I had to play because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away. On the way in its so technical and its hard to find a stretch to make a move.”
Young is enjoying ‘cross and likes a couple specific course, including Miller Park. Her preference is for races where she can “pedal more.”
Gomez crossed in third for an impressive effort considering the few times she has raced ‘cross this season. Ever present at SacCX, McGovern rode well to take fourth place. After dropping Teerlink, Claes held off Ransom in the ebb and flow battle for fifth, the Sports Basement racer never able to overcome a poor third lap.
“Old Working Lady”
The burgeoning cyclocross season in the Reno area has but a few opportunities for racing but they do have excellent events in the Sagebrush Cyclocross Series. Often racers from the area do make the trek into Northern California, as they did successfully at the previous week’s District Championships. For this Miller Park race, Vandersyde found enough excuses to make the drive, foregoing the draw of work and family, to rule the race for Women 35+.
Contending with Lauren Liden (Michael Davis Winery/Delta Velo), Linda Elgart (TBBCX), and Stace Cooper (BlueCollarBikes), Vendersyde grabbed the early lead ahead of Liden and Janell Marton (Roseville Cyclery). Vandersyde’s lead grew as the laps fell away with the Reno racer putting in strong lap times. Her slowest circuits bested the fastest laps from most of the field. Second place went to Marila Alvares (Signal Cycles) ahead of Kristin Fredericks.
Describing herself as ‘an old working lady’, Vandersyde said “The course was deceiving because it was very slippery. A few places had some roots that come up and surprise you. It was technical even though it didn’t look technical. I had to be patient and tell myself to take it easy and push in certain places. It felt good today.”
1. Julie Young (Roseville Cyclery)
2. Ellen Sherrill (Voler/Clif/HRS/Rock Lobster Cyclocross)
3. Felicia Gomez (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18)
4. Hollie Mcgovern (Real Wheels)
5. Cheryl Claes (Bell Real Estate Cycling)
6. Nia Ransom (Sports Basement)
7. Audrey Biehle (Dirt Birds)
8. Jennifer Teerlink (Dirt Birds)
9. Aubree Watkins (Happy Trails)
10. Anna Poehlmann (Dirt Birds)
1. Kimberley Vandersyde (Reno Wheelwomen)
2. Marila Alvares (Signal Cycles)
3. Kristin Fredericks
4. Linda Elgart (TBBCX)
5. Lauren Liden (Michael David Winery Cycling Team/Delta Velo)
6. Janell Marton (Roseville Cyclery)
7. Yvonne Walbroehl (Pen Velo Racing)
8. Michelle Nightengale (CA Technologies Racing)
9. Madeline Finch (Dirt Birds)
10. Stace Cooper (BlueCollarBikes)
11. Jenny Frayer (Reno Wheelwomen)
1. Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels)
2. Cormac Dunn (Clif Bar)
3. Scott Hooper (Real Wheels)
4. Phillip Violett (Auburn Ski Club / SQUID)
5. Kell Mckenzie (Broakland / King Kog)
6. Bailey Eckles (The Team SoCalCross)
7. Nicholas Terzakis (BEERxSQUID)
8. AJ Snovel (Hifi CX)
9. Robert Terra (Bikes and Bites)