Sierra Point in Brisbane, the next point south of Candlestick Park, San Francisco, has hosted bike races pretty regularly over the past eight-or-so years. From the Pilarcitos Stage Race and Ronde van Brisbeen criteriums to the earlier Bay Area Super Prestige events, this little dirt patch between the marina and business park has seen a ton of action. But this year’s edition of the Super Prestige has to have been the best day of racing seen here yet.
The course, contained in an undeveloped suburban lot, was like a scaled-up remote-control car track the way it folded back upon itself over and over again. The relatively smooth surface and good traction encouraged racers to push the pace. The lone hill, even though racers hit it five times each lap, was only head-high and not enough to be much of a factor since the rest of the course was so flat.
Fun as it was, the non-stop nature of the small course and all those turns ended up providing a quality test. Mental clarity was essential, as you had to remember how to set up for each of the numerous turn sections to keep your line flowing. I saw plenty of fatigue-induced wipe-outs in corners from just a moment of lost concentration.
Technical riding skills probably played a bigger factor in this race than any other to this point in the series. The contrast compared to McLaren Park and the impromptu Coyote Point locations showcased a nice variety in terrain and course layout in the series. I cannot emphasize enough how fun it was to throw a ‘cross bike around like a bmxer through all that twisty stuff, knowing that the dirt is solid enough to hold the line.
While the track was amazing, and worth going on and on about, there was also a cyclocross race: that meant a packed row of team tents all done up to celebrate the night’s disco party theme. The smell of barbecues, sounds of funk and flowing beers kept in-check a race that otherwise may have been taken too seriously.
Juniors Rip Men’s B Field
Those cats that came to race, not party, lit it up in grand style. In the men’s B race, 15 year-old Isaiah Rapko (Kaiser Permanente/Team Oakland Cycling) won his third race on the trot. This was Rapko’s his hardest fought win yet as fellow junior Spence Peterson (Above Category) stayed with him the whole way, even leading the race for a while. In the end Rapko’s form, fitness and skills proved the difference as he padded his series lead.
Barnholdt Pips Howe to Win Deep Women’s Race
The women hit the track in the second to last race of the night and, once again, the Super Prestige drew a field of class. Barb Howe (Vanderkitten) was in town and came out for the race, joining Carmen D’Aluisio and Gina Hall (Cal Giant Strawberry/Specialized). Also taking the start were local regulars Kerry Barnholt (Scott/Ritchey), current series leader Karen Brems (WebCor), 2008 series winner Kathleen Hannon (Hunter/Freewheel), Sarah Maile (Ventana), Stella Carey, along with Sarah Kerlin and the rest of the Rocklobster girls.
Right away the front of the race got small as Howe and Barnholt went to work. Howe hasn’t been doing as many local events this year, but looked as though she wanted to relinquish none of her regional dominance. However, Barnholt has been establishing herself as the woman to beat this year and had no intention of just letting Howe show up and steal the show. The two, with Kathleen Hannon, shredded off the front and sealed the top three spots early, barring misfortune. That almost came to pass as an untimely bobble by Barnholt nearly took her out of the running with two to go.
Howe got herself a nice big gap but Barnholt, who had fallen back to Hannon’s position, rallied back to win with an exciting last lap and one of the tightest sprints in recent memory. Hannon continued with her strong efforts and improving form with a third place finish, followed by Sarah Maile in fourth and Gina Hall, proving she’s still one of the best finishing off the podium with a fine fifth place. Of note and just off the podium was Collegiate National Champion Devon Haskell (Velo Bella – Ellsworth).
Bradford Upsets the HRS / RockLobster Train
The finale was the men’s A race. It was yet another amazing happening and intense race. Straight out of the chute Scotty Chapin (HRS Rocklobster) led his gang of no-good-nicks Josh Snead, Aaron Odell and Chris McGovern off the front with Don Myrah (Ibis) and Jeremy Ferguson (Cal Giant Strawberry/Specialized). After a few laps, Scotty came off the front and the four-man group of Chapin, McGovern, Snead and Ferguson kept the pace going.
As Mr. Myrah, perhaps the biggest threat to Rocklobster dominance, was suffering the effects of having also raced a brutal masters’ race earlier (in which he placed third behind Steve Reaney and Gannon Myall, both Cal Giant Strawberry/Specialized), a new threat emerged – 25 year-old Aaron Bradford (OnSite Ultrasound)
The barrier-hopping young man rode lights out. He is the same Aaron Bradford who overcame a series of mechanicals in the last BASP race to claim fifth place, then he finished second to Justin Robinson at Surf City #3 before beating him (and winning) in Toro Park the following week.
Bradford, with no call up, blitzed through the entire field putting his considerable bike handling skills on full display as he smoothly negotiated the tight, twisty course that was packed with riders to catch what had to be a surprised lead group with four laps to go. Bradford never changed pace as he rode through them to solo off to his first series win.
In front of a huge crowd of disco partying race fans, Bradford firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Chris McGovern broke out of chase group to claim second nineteen seconds down. Five seconds later Josh Snead, Jeremy Ferguson and Scotty Chapman sprinted three-up for the remaining podium spots, finishing in that order.
After the race, as the team tents came down there was still a buzz in the air. The clean-up effort took longer than typical, with people hanging about, talking about the races. The consensus was that it’s cool to have another really fast guy like Bradford on the scene because it pushes everyone and makes for more exciting racing. Bradford, for his part, said that the race was a blast and that he was really impressed with the crowds and enthusiasm.