You know it’s been a colossal day at the races when your printer spits out page after ecologically foolish page of names in 8-point, single-spaced text. Excuse me while I run over to Staples for another ream of paper and a toner cartridge. Is this the results or the phone book?
For the second weekend in a row a horde of cyclocross enthusiasts from around Southern California gathered for a feeding frenzy of competition and socializing. Round two of the 2012-13 SoCalCross Prestige Series was another record-breaker in terms of rider entries, officially tagged at 558. There were 108 riders in the Men C class alone.
And there was a lot more than just the DTLA Historic Cyclocross stirring up dust at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Another running of CycLAvia had closed off streets around downtown L.A. for sole use by bicycles, skaters and pedestrians, and the SoCalCross promoters tied this environmental/cultural awareness event in with a few complementary activities and messages of their own. The racing drew in quite a few spectators that might not usually go to a cyclocross. This mixing of bike communities was rewarding as well as entertaining.
With the depth of most of the classes the racing was generally as hot, heavy and sometimes chaotic as ever. Along with the usual arsenal of ribboned twisties, grass, gravel, run-ups, barriers and long straights, the mostly flat 1.9-mile course also featured an entertaining over/under flyover bridge and a long section of wood chips. This turned out to be rather tricky and was blamed for an inordinate number of flat tires.
Doing a stellar job of avoiding flats and falls was Women’s A winner Carolin Shiff (SDG/Felt p/b IRT). The German made it two in a row for the SoCalCross season, keeping an eye on her breakaway partners Amanda Schaper (Ritte CX Team) and Hannah Rae Finchamp (Cynergy) until about the halfway point, then riding away for a relatively uncomplicated triumph. Schaper and Finchamp each finished alone as well, in second and third respectively.
“I had a really bad start because I couldn’t find my pedals, but I didn’t want to go to the front immediately today anyway,” Shiff stated. “I wanted to be a little bit more tactical to see what the others do and to maybe learn from them in the technical parts. I have little experience there. Amanda was better in the technical sections but in the wind I think I had a little more power.”
Shiff, who is racing in the U.S. while working as an intern at Felt Bicycles, initially thought she would have to leave the series at the end of November due to her temporary, waived visa status. But now Shiff says she will race the series to its conclusion, but only after taking care of the visa situation by traveling back to Germany for a day and then immediately re-entering the U.S. — that’s about 40 hours of air travel in a span of some 72 hours, all in pursuit of the SoCalCross title.
As straightforward as that race was, the Men’s A race was the complete opposite. Most of the front-runners in this class had more issues than National Geographic. Flats and crashes and unusual mechanicals had the lead changing hands and gaps opening and closing to the point of pandemonium.
In the end it was Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt p/b IRT) who ultimately secured the win despite a start chute bump that shuffled him back to about 15th place shortly after the whistle, as well as a rough downhill tumble while remounting from a stairs run-up. He overcame intense last lap pressure from Chris Jackson (Castex Racing p/b Felt), who had just come out of the pits with his own woes.
As Siegle explained, “I knew I just had to keep him behind me in certain places and be in front in the last two turns. So I would brake-check him in the twisty sections and then punch it. I had to give it everything I had going into the wind on the last straight so he wouldn’t get around me. I knew he was working less in my draft but we both had gone hard for a long time at that point. I was able to hold him off and then got through the last turn perfectly.”
Jackson, who had fought through a myriad of mechanical and physical issues, thought he had Siegle covered. “I stayed on his wheel for a long time and hoped to outsprint him,” said Jackson. “I went into the last turn hot to carry some speed but washed out and that was it. It’s frustrating. That’s two weeks in a row with last-corner drama.”
For complete results, visit SoCalCross.org.
The next stop on the SoCalCross schedule is the Pacifica Crossfest in Camarillo on Saturday, October 13, followed the next weekend by the must-do Spooky Cross and Krosstober-Fest on October 20-21. This is part of the inaugural L.A. Bikefest, which will be absolutely blowing up the Fairplex in Pomona. For details, visit SoCalCross.org.
The Prestige Series has many sponsorship opportunities available, and volunteers are welcome at every event. Currently, official sponsors for 2012-13 SoCalCross are: Voler Team Apparel, SPY Optic, Shimano, Square One, Jenson USA, Rock N Road Cyclery, Cynergy Cycles and Cadence Collection.
ABOUT THE SERIES: Cyclocross is a historic form of bicycle racing that typically takes place in the autumn and winter. It is a timed event consisting of multiple laps of a 1.5- to 2-mile course consisting of pavement, wooded trails, grass, hills, sand, mud and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry their bike, and then remount. The SoCalCross Prestige Series was launched in 2006 and has grown over 500% in terms of participation since its inception to become one of the nation’s leading cyclocross racing organizations.