Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 8:39PM
Amanda getting the hang of Cross!
SCPS#9A/9B, Hart Park, Bakersfield CA
Written by Platinum rider, Amanda Schaper
I took my second venture into cross racing this past weekend in the only California town that rivals Santa Barbara in both its beauty and class: Bakersfield. Races were held in Hart Park on both Saturday and Sunday, using the same course each day, only run in the opposite direction on the second day. I opted to do the Sunday race. The course was conducive to mountain bikers as it had steep descents, loose and twisty turns through trees, and some tricky climbs. I took a practice lap right before my race started and despite taking a good spill trying to remount the bike, I felt pretty good about everything. To me, nothing seemed too technical, and I've come to accept the fact that I simply won't look graceful as I launch myself on and off the bike. Grace will come, but it hasn't yet.
We Cat 3/4 girls get fairly chatty on the start line. Since we're all new at this cross thing, I think we're all equally terrified and looking for some moral support. I've seen the Elite guys start, and they aren't complimenting their competitor's pink knee-high socks or talking about how scared they are for the sandy sections or steep descents. This chatter always makes me feel a little bit more confident because it makes me realize that while I might not have the cross technique figured out yet, I at least have the bike handling skills from mountain biking....and the fashion sense to not rock pink knee-highs. Anyway, the race started and we were off. I stumbled a little bit on the start and entered the first singletrack section with only one or two other people behind me. Because of this, I got stuck behind some slower riders as the lead group rode away. I hoped that this time I could stick with the faster group as long as I could, but it looks like I need to add starting to my list of things to work on. I focused on riding my race and passed a few girls in the process. Despite a humbling crash as I dismounted the bike on one of my last laps, I managed to finish in 5th (admittedly, this also qualified as mid-pack).
As I crossed the finish line, I actually had no idea that I was, in fact, finished (apparently "2 laps remaining" becomes "1 lap remaining" after a guy from another class laps you...who knew?). So while I could have waved to the crowd as I finished in my 5th place glory, I instead charged out for another lap. Talk about dedication. Thanks to Coach Douville for chasing me down and letting me know that I could get off the bike. Without him, I might still be riding in circles up in beautiful Bakersfield.
Gary on the gas!!!!
Gary putting the hurt on the Australian Champ!
Speaking of Gary, that guy had two very studly Elite 2nd place finishes over the weekend. On Saturday, Brent Prenzlow took off pretty quickly looking for his 101st Elite win, but Gary worked with the chase group to reel him in. Gary's group bridged the gap after Brent flatted and needed a bike change. Brent attacked towards the end of the last lap and finished in 1st, but Gary was very close behind in 2nd. Sunday's race was even more impressive. The field was stacked with the likes of Brent, Sid Taberlay (5 time Australian National MTB Champ), and Mark and Chance Noble. It definitely was going to make for an interesting race. As soon as the race started, Sid and Gary were off the front like it was their mission, and they never relented. Thanks to their smooth technical riding and their ability to bunny hop a massive curb, the gap they formed on the chase group grew by almost 10 seconds each lap, reaching as much as a minute at one point. They were neck in neck until the last straightaway, when Sid unleashed about a 300-yard sprint. Gary hung on the best he could, but couldn't quite match Sid's sprint. He ended up finishing about 10 feet behind this world class racer. Not bad. Watching these two races was exciting to say the least. From the looks of it, Gary's about the only guy capable of stopping Brent and Sid. It must be all of those Organic Living lunches he's been eating…
Showing his skills....
Gary Douville 2nd Elite
Jon Miller 1st Mens 55+
Gary Douville 2nd Elite
Amanda Schaper 5th Womens 3/4