Let’s get excited with a slew of SoCalCrossers heading to CX National Championships in Boulder, CO!
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LET’S GO SOCAL!!! WIN ONE… OR TWO… OR
Nationals Day 1-3 Non Championships, Singlespeed, Older Masters, Juniors:
CX nationals for the 2013-14 cyclocross season is taking place in Boulder, CO at Valmont Bike park from Jan. 8th to the 12th. Valmont Bike park is place set aside for cycling in most forms from for cyclocross, BMX, and duel salmon, beginner XC MTB, pump tracks, and tricks courses. Any more room they probley would have found some way to build a velodrome. Alot of money from the city, donations, and government funds went into making this park a reality. Valmont already has been used for UCI racing in past seasons since the park was open, but CX Nationals was something Boulder was waiting for a long time.
Course set up was mix of technical features just for the nationals, permanent stair features, park pathways, and trails. The park made a permanent Start/finish straight CX races or other events. Staging /starting in the middle of the park between the hillside and one two creeks that flow the park. Blasting off to the eastern edge around some the trick ramps going up the backside of the hill was long slow drag allowing room to pass before things got hard. Once at the top through series of turns and into down and up before a bigger drop off the hillside. Along slight off chamber section lead into the 5280 Bonk Breaker double stair sets back to the top of the hill. Then dropping off into right very severe off chamber with high or low line through it. There was middle that very hard to ride. Going into a sweeping U-turn heading back towards the start area before turning down crossing the creek into the lower area of the course crossing in front of what was the start. Course went over a mound before going by the pit the first time. After the pit it turned back along the pond heading towards the Expo area via a gravel sand pit with hump to go. Crossing another bridge over the second creek then making left turn into some rolling mounds where the Belgium Step were waiting. Once over stairs the course weaved in, out, and over rolling mounds to the barriers. After the barriers it back along the second creek before crossing a bridge leading to the second pit entrance. Once the past the pit the course crossed bridge over the first creek and turning to follow it back towards start/ staging area and then turn onto the finishing straight. Course could be viewed in two parts Start/finish area hillside being a mix of power and bike handling and the lower section more fitness and not losing focus.
Day one Wednesday Jan 8th kicked off racing with non-championship open races and Singlespeeds. Park was cover in snow and ice in many places. Non-championship women were off first that many SoCal women in it trying out the course before the singlespeeds later in the day, masters or elites with the jersey on the line at race speed. Nicole Brandt finished 4th and new CA resident, Carolina GomezVillafane from Team Rambuski Law took the win. The Non championship men race spilt into three age groups going off at different times and that had some of the SoCal men. By the time singlespeeds went off much of the snow on hill side and where the course was lower down had melted leaving a muddy mess. Singlespeed Women were up first to race for national jersey. Amanda Nauman ( SDG Felt) and Dorothy Wong (Team SoCal Cross) represented SoCal. Christina Probert Turner was out due sickness which SoCal chances the jersey. Amanda raced well and smart finishing fourth her first time racing singlespeed behind national ranked pros. SoCal in Singlespeed men had Eric Nelson, Jay Kwan, Jason Siegal, and Dave Sheek raced as the best they could but a Boulder local and other pros won the day.
Thursday the 9th the day for older masters to race. Much of the snow had melted from yesterday leaving behind frozen mud overnight that melted even more making much more mud than Day 1. The course was a giant mud pit expect or the start/finish straight first up was the 60+ men broken into 5 year age groups for the title of national champion. 70+ Bob Llamas out of Montrose Bike Shop went away early never looked back. Later in the race he raced conservatively later on once the gap was solid. Bob stayed away for the win and defending his title from last year. Post race saying he was not a technical rider and had to race without making mistakes. Carol Ruckle (Team Redlands) was up next the master women 60+ race. After many years of trying to win nationals but coming close she really going for it. Went out hard and put in solid effort but was only able to come in 3rd. Masters women 45-49 Dorothy Wong, women 50-54 represented by Leean Storino (Celo Pacific), Sue Thompson (Celo Pacific) , Keli Roberts (PAA Cycling) and Trina Baumsteiger (Rambuski Law). Leeann had ab excellent race day and finished on the podium taking the silver medal and Trina Baumsteiger came in 5th on the podium!
Day 3 on Friday Jan 10 was the big day for the Juniors and some of the other the master races. Course on the hillside dried out a lot leaving dried tire ruts making things a little sketchy and bumpy hard packed conditions. The lower section was still plenty muddy but slowly drying through the day. It did not help that wind was 20mph+ at times adding to difficulty on the day. Tents in expo and team areas not protected were being destroyed or forced to take down. Spy Giant George Lonergan had back of the field call up in 45+ and by the Bonk Breaker 5280 stairs he made his way through half the field and finished the race strong and made up a few more places. Nicole Brandt had strong start in Women’s 30+ after the first lap in 4th but as the race wore on she eventually finished just off the podium in 6th. This was Nicole Brandt first trip nationals so very solid rides in that respect. Jr nationals there were crashes, slips, and bad luck that took toll on top of the strong headwind at the start. SCNCA District Champion Cheyenne Comer (Team SoCalCross) had an excellent ride to make the podium in 5th while Kylyn McDonald of Celo Pacifiic, Courtney Comer, Hannah Eckvahl and Madelaine Melcher represented The TEAM well in the Junior Women 15-16, 17-18 races. In the 11-12 year old Junior races, Brody McDonald (Celo Pacific) SCNCA district champ racing finished 5th on the podium for Jr. M 11-12. Jan Heinz from Ranchos rode strong as did Jesse Gillingham pushed through the challenging conditions.
Day 4 & 5: Yong Masters, Collegiate, U23, 17-18 M and Elites
Dreams and goals for some they only can keep hoping it will come true, for some it is reality, others have are just about achieve it. That is what nationals is about for many aspiring pros in back of the elite pros, U23, 17-18, and younger masters looking to move up to the next level. Day 4 & 5 of CX nationals helps racers looking for the ticket the pro ranks, a ticket to worlds team, more sponsorship they need for next season, and/or a national title to go with it.
For the U23, elite pros, there been subtractions for young jrs on day 3 but, Day 4 saw the some additions replacing the bridge crossing the second creek after the gravel sand pit to dropping into the creek and climb back out. Crossing the bridge after the second pit entrance and going along the creek heading to finish straight the course took a detour up and around one of the pump tracks in the park with off an muddy chamber up and along the top with gentle descent back to the main course. Course length was 3.4km, just under 2.1 mi.
Day 4 was more strong wind mostly dry bumpy hardpack half of the course on the hill and with somewhat greasy in the lower section of the course. Matias Mendigochea went out in the masters 40+ but got lapped and pulled of the officials with 2 laps to go. In college racing it not just personal goals but team goals at the end year end onimium title from CX, road, and MTB combined. College women was mix of Mackenzie Melcher (The Team normally) racing in college kit of CSU San Diego State University, SoCal residents away for college Coryn Rivera in Marian kit, and Ivy Crawford in the Fort Lewis kit. All in DI (large) schools class. D2 ( small/medium schools) started after them. Coryn had team mate way up front in the lead with gap and just went hard enough to keep all but one chaser off to get third and earn her team big points for their yearly point total. Ivy was going good till mechanical on the last lap forcing her to run a long ways to the pit finishing 29th. McKenzie put in solid effort for San Diego finishing in 22nd looking strong as she crossed the finish. Coryn said after the race she only has a few semesters left at college and thinking of coming back to SoCal in couple years which should make local races more interesting
For U23 men course staff switched over to the additions. Cal giant top three just rode away at the start and that was race lead. About 50 starters only 22 made into the lead lap has the rest were pulled due the pace of the Cal Giant trio. Dillien Maurer from Montrose Bike Shop dug in and fought hard in the race but it was not enough to make to the last lap with leaders.
Masters 35+ the course was back normal course for the rest of day. Eric Nelson (Mud Foot), David Sheek (SDG Felt), Jason Siegal (SDG Felt), Josh Cady (Moots) were out representing SoCal. All put in a strong effort but it was not enough to podium. In the 30+ Jay Kwan (The Team) had a near the back start in huge field, had to move up had a lot to avoid being pulled by the officials due the blistering pace Justin Lindine was setting. Jay got pulled with a lot the felid but making it to one lap to go.
Day 5 was the big day for race staff, officials, and spectators with Collegiate Men, 17-18 M, Elite Women, Elite Men. Boulder and people from all over the nation came out in droves. The race crowd looked like something out of Belgium. Live internet feed was going world wide. The course was getting pretty dry and fast most places on the day.
Colligate Men in D1 Cody Phillips away at Lees McRae College in North Carolina. Since college racing is more team based racing then the age groups or UCI fields it has different vibe focused more helping new comers and students growing in cycling. Cody had teammate up in lead and lots of the other team mates in the race as well. Sitting mid field all he had to defend his position for team points. Plan worked and his leader won and third D1 team Onimium.
Up next was the Jr Men 17-18. Call ups was based off UCI ranking so SoCal racers Bailey Eckles (The Team) and Christian Husband (MRI Monster Media) had back row callups in a huge field. Tough fast start did not allow much time to move up before things got technical. Cliff Bar just rode away at a fast pace and never looked back. One of the other Cliff Bar Jrs was riding the Belgium Steps at the expo area. Solid efforts by Bailey and Christian to finish without getting pulled. Excellent job consider the start positions and it was their first trip to CX Nationals.
Skipping to the elite men and coming back to Elite Women. Three were the list to start from SoCal but, only one started Eric Nelson (Mudfoot). Eric had been racing many races this past week in: non -championships, single speed, and his age group. Elite men and Women races call ups are based of UCI points, so thoes without points start at the back. Eric started in the back behind the fasted CX elite/pro men in the nation. Powers and Trebon took off followed by the rest at an insane pace compared to lap times of groups during the week. Eric managed to get half way through the race before the officials pulled him. Eric ended the week with doing four races.
On to the Women elite. The winner was almost determined already at the start with Katie Compton (Trek Collective) two time world cup champion last two seasons and multiple world championship medalist go 10 titles in row. The race was second for the rest of the elite/pros. SoCal had strong group that represented with Nicole Brandt (LaGrange), Hannah Rae Finchamp (Luna Chix), Madeline Melcher (The Team), McKenzie Melcher (The Team), and Amanda Nauman (SDG Felt). Rows went more than 10 deep meaning over 100 racers took the start. The front took off following Katie Compton setting an insane pace. A few elite/pro women tried to her hold pace in the earlier laps but eventually had to settle second and third battles. Both Melcher sisters and Nicole Brandt were on their third race of the week. Mckenzie was able to a make a little more than half way before being pulled. Nicole and Maddie were pulled with one lap to go. Leaving only Amanda and Hannah Rae to make it onto the bell lap. They were close to each but out of sight of each on many parts of the course. Amanda, winner of the Womens A Prestige Series title, end taking 13th place and Hannah Rae 15th. Hannah Rae finished 3rd overall of U23 Women.
Overall it was great week for the SoCal region with National title and many medals brought home. For some it was their first trip nationals. Boulder hosted a great Cyclocross Nationals with an excellent course and huge crowds on the final two days. Next year CX Nationals moves to Austin. Texas. Warm winter weather and low elevation should make it better for SoCal racers.
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