Chaos theory is the study of nonlinear dynamics, in which seemingly random events are actually predictable from simple deterministic equations. You know, like in Jurassic Park when a T-Rex suddenly pops up and chomps a lawyer in half. Doctor Malcolm warned them: nature is highly complex and the only prediction you can make is that it is unpredictable.
Dr. Malcolm has probably never been to a cyclocross race, but if he’d witnessed the Elite Men’s A class at the DTLA Historic CX, he’d point and intone, “See? I told you so.”
This hour-long race was chaotic — completely and utterly unpredictable. Just when it looked as if one rider had a handle on victory, another rider would come into view with the lead. The race order was in flux throughout, ebbing and flowing like the tide at the nearby coast. Big gaps would form and moments later be closed again. It was a pattern that almost became predictable thanks to the unpredictability of countless flat tires, crashes and other weirdness. When was the last time you heard of a bike change being needed because a wire had gotten wrapped up in a rear wheel?
The winner of the previous round of the 2012-13 SoCalCross Prestige Series, Brandon Gritters (Rock n Road), must have felt like the aforementioned lawyer. Yes, he had to deal with said wire wrap, along with two flats and at least one crash. He made — count them — three bike changes (very rare in this part of the world). Yet he was still able to finish fourth, which is a prediction of sorts on how the rest of the front-runners fared on this warm, dry, dusty day at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Nobody got away without some teeth marks.
Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt p/b IRT) 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 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.”
There were no such theatrics or chaos in the Elite Women’s A class. German Carolin Shiff (SDG/Felt p/b IRT) made it two in a row for the SoCalCross season, marking 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 US 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.
Sounds kind of chaotic, don’t you think?
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