By Dave Sheek and Dot Wong
The West Coast Collegiate Championship (WCCC) hosted by University of California, Irvine Cycling Team, and the SCNCA CX District Championships hosted by Team Velocity:
Fall weather finally showed for an historic two days of racing in Southern California “cooling” off the memories of two weeks ago and the “heated” Prestige Series’ UCI Dam Cross Weekend battles. SoCal’Crossers were filled with excitement, many participating for the first time ever as part of the West Coast Collegiate Cycling (WCCC) and the 2008-09 SCNCA cyclocross championships. The two days brought incredible racing with local battles, new collegiate ‘crossers and names to town everyone should know, “The Lung” That’s right Ned Overend. THE Mountain bike legend was visiting and decided to come out to play at the State Championship race on Sunday!
Oak Canyon Park nestled in the hillside of Irvine Lake was a picturesque, family friendly and the perfect setting to have the SoCal ‘cross family hanging-out, having beers, talking ‘race’ leading up to the final awards… it was a cool site to see, and even better to be part of!
The championship course, now touted as the best course of the season, was a laberynth of challenging tight grassy and loose gravel turns, lots of accelerations, taxing run ups, fast pavement, even a set of steps built into the hillside! Racers twisted, turned, bumped up and down, jumped over barriers and rolled along the 1.5 mile course!
Saturday, November 22, 2008: SCPS #8, WCCC First Ever West Coast Collegiate Championships
It was day one of the Championship weekend and the UC Irvine Cycling Team (UCI) with some help from their sponsor, Bike Religion took on the challenge of bringing cyclocross to a lot of new riders out on course for their first experience many wearing tennis shoes and riding flat pedals and ‘cross bikes for the first time. The number of Collegiate B racers filled almost half the men’s 3-4 field. The Single Speed and Collegiate B races were exciting as college students rode their way onto the first ever WCCC podium. The Occidental women, led by Rebecca Siegel swept the women’s B podium while the Men’s B saw three different schools represented with Jason King, SDSU Cycling taking the gold, Bryan Larsen of UC Irvine silver, and Joseph Patterson, UCLA taking the bronze. Thanks to SRAM for providing neutral support for the weekend, racers who may have rolled a tire or crashed in a corner were treated to Orbea CX bikes and Zipp wheels.
Sunday, November 23, 2008: SoCalCross Eco-Sportfest ’08, and the 2008-09 Southern California Nevada Cycling CX District Championships:
Day 2 at Oak Canyon started off with low fog and significantly cooler temperatures… a chilling start for the third stop of the SoCalCross Eco-Sportfest ’08 presented by Landmark Insurance. The day began with a 5k ‘cross country (XC) run followed by a full day of CX racing. The SCPS leads the charge to promote and support green living and is striving to become the greenest sports series in the nation. Each Prestige Series event is Solar Powered thanks to Energy Efficiency Solar. Voler Team Apparel has provided the series with GoGreenRacer custom sublimated jerseys and awarded to weekly green racers. The Best Team trophies will be made from donated used bike parts. YUBA Transport has donating a bike for series transport use and will be given away at the end of the series as a fundraiser for CICLE.org as the series supports their mission of transportation bicycling. The Green Truck run on BioDiesel served lots of organic treats and the best veggie oil french fries ever known!!! KreativeShots.com captured the day for the racers while Kool N Fit Sport warmed up the racers and Fluid Recovery drink was there after the race.
Racers were loving the course improvements, plus the grass and sand had packed down to become much more smooth from day one of the weekend. Slight modifications to the course increased lap times by almost a minute. The Shimano Barriers were moved and a much faster approach. The Ellsworth Stairway saw more loose dirt taking racers quickly downhill. The Fluid S-TURN in gravel… still proved tricky and the edge coming to the smoothest racer.
Championships were handed out in 20 categories throughout the day. Thanks to: Lightning Velo, KreativeShots.com, The Green Truck, Bear Naked Granola, Shimano, Planet Bike, Protech Skincare, Voler, Crash, Fluid, Kool N Fit, Clif Bar, Adidas, Hutchinson, Athletic Unlimited, Banning’s Bikes for supporting the day with lots of goodies for the podium.
The Juniors took to the course first showing the future ‘cross stars of So Cal. Although young, many were more than experienced cyclists and ‘crossers with a number of years of competitive cycling under their belt, including 15-18 year old champion, Peter Morris of Bike Religion. In the 10-14 Men it was up and comer, Duncan Reid of Bike Palace/Back-on-Track taking the title. In the Junior women, new to cross yet veteran of the road and track, Tara McCormick (Ouch Pro Cycling) took the 10-14 title and Echelon Santa Barbara’s Somersby Jenkins took the Women 15-18 title. Somersby is new to CX this season and we look to see her challenge the elite women in the coming years!
Jim Pappe of Bakersfield (Action Sports) took the men’s 45-49 title, national medalist, Jon Miller (Sho¬Air/Rock N Road took the 55-59 title with ease. Sue Thompson in her first season rode to a commanding victory in the women’s 45+ title. Genna McMahon of Lake Forest (Team Velocity) won the Women’s CX4 title with her podium contenders finishing close behind. Singlespeed titles were handed out with Matt Masters of Thousand Oaks (Mafia) winning his first ever SS4 Championship. The SS1/2/3 saw Noah Holcomb of the Cannondale Factory Team taking another gold, followed by Charles Morris and Andy Anderson of Bike Religion in silver and bronze.
The Elite Women’s Championships (CX1/2 and CX3) was fast from the start as it seemed all ladies were saving it up for the Championship race. Dot Wong (CICLE/Voler/Jamis) took the “Crash Innovations” hairpin turn with ease getting ahead of Coryn Rivera (Redline Bicycles) with a better line, but it was not long before Coryn took back the lead continuing her dominance on the ladies of SoCal.
Making her debut this weekend, MTB Pro, Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth/Ergon) motored her way into second place looking to make the podium both days. Junior sensation, Kendall Ryan took up the chase moving her way into third place overall in the race and first in the CX3 championship event. All rode clean races and as the gaps grew, the podium was solidified. Coryn winning her third straight elite women’s CX1/2 title, Pua her first silver and Dot Wong 4th overall took the bronze in the CX1/2 race. Kendall Ryan finished 3rd overall but first in the CX 3 was awarded a co-championship title along with Lisa Crowe (CICLE/Voler/Jamis) in a gesture to award both on their merits and deal with the inconsistencies of the new CX cat system.
The elite CX1/2/3 men’s field was stacked again like it was another UCI weekend as Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Alan), Sid Taberlay (RockNRoad), Ned Overend (Specialized), Chance Noble (Cal Giant/Specialized), Mark Noble (Bailey Bikes) and others took to the start. It was an exciting field and was interesting as many of the riders saved themselves for Sunday, the main event. From the start it was Prenzlow and Taberlay battling again similar to the prior day. It did not last long as Taberlay found himself unfortunate suffering a flat tire in the first two laps and out of the race.
From this point it was battle after battle as riders worked their way through the field. The day brought more phenomenal efforts as more riders presented themselves with a new force this season. It was Chance Noble on his A game again, like the recent UCI weekend, as he tore after Prenzlow for the title. And, while the two where battling it out they also brought themselves up to a stunning pace to gap themselves from the field. Close behind it was Chances father, Mark Noble, putting in an outstanding effort himself as he too dropped the chase group on his way towards the leaders.
The excitement was phenomenal in the lead groups but the most impressive racing was that of young Morgan Ryan, 17 of Team CICLE/Voler/Jamis, just returning from his USGP effort in the mudfest of the Mercer Cup vying for a spot on the Junior World Championship team. His experience there, gained him new confidence as he battled it out with master rider and legend, Ned Overend throughout the race. The two were taking turns pushing the pace until they finally broke off from others going back and forth to the end, where Ryan was able to stay with Overend to take the CX3 Championship.
The final laps were exciting everywhere on course, no rider ever giving up. Mark Noble put in some impressive efforts to grab the leaders but it was just not enough as the younger Noble and Prenzlow battled to the finish. It was Chance who looked good for a final attack on Prenzlow with about 10 turns to go and then Prenzlow was back. It was a yo-yo as the two fought, until Prenzlow took off for the win once hitting the cement for the final sprint. In third it was Mark Noble taking the bronze in the CX 1/2.
It was another fantastic weekend of SoCal racing with more exciting events soon to come. Next on the schedule is the classic, Gene Galindo Memorial Turkey Trot, hosted by the Pasadena Athletic Association. Don’t miss this one. Work off the Turkey and look for some Turkey Gobblin’ loot on course. This year a new design will be introduce including stream crossing bridge, a new run up and tricky off camber fun!
For more information, go to: www.socalcross.org