Steve Tilford (Tradewind Energy) leading John Behrens (Bailey Bikes) during the Pro race. © Mark Vaughn
The Southern California Prestige series headed south towards the border this past weekend for double days of racing in San Diego. The Saturday event was created by the series’ presenting sponsor, Spy Optic, and hosted by Ranchos Cycling along with Team SPY-Blue. Everyone came together to put forward an event to benefit the San Dieguito river park’s open space and multi-use trails.
Along with raising money for the open space Spy wanted a fun event that would challenge competitors. They explained it best, “it’s a crusty 2.5km, spectator-friendly, all-dirt course that’s fast and furious, difficult and delirious, with downhill sections of varying speed and width, tight sandy turns, a unique “beach” section that runs along the shore of Lake Hodges, a sandpit and long, steady uphill sections with agonizingly placed barriers. This course will challenge every muscle in your body, every cubic inch of your lungs, and we’ll see just how good you are at handling your bike. Somewhere in the mix of it all you will realize just how much fun pain and suffering can be … it doesn’t hurt that there is a strategically placed beer garden where you can sit and imbibe glorious malt beverages while watching others suffer over much of the course or you can hike to the top of a nearby hill and see the entire course.” And, it was exactly that.
The women pedaled out on the crusty course into the first set of right turns. It was The Team SoCal ’Cross’s own Christina Probert-Turner, (CPT) with the hole shot and Allison Mann (Rock N Road) close behind. First time cross racer and pro triathlete Heather Jackson joined the mix and the rest filed in as the women set out on course.
By the far-end of the course Mann took the lead before entering the first chicane. By the time the women came through the sandy beach section it was obvious Mann had the race won. Jackson was making moves and chasing down Mann but an unfortunate flat gave CPT an opportunity to monopolize upon. CPT took second, with a hungry Jackson, Dorothy Wong (The Team SoCal Cross), and teammate Nancy James-Klinger.
Four-time cyclocross national champion Steve Tilford (Tradewind Energy) came to town and showed his experience as he snatched the hole shot and set an amazing pace, putting down the fastest lap time of the day. Tilford’s effort split the elite men apart halfway through lap one. A group of five stayed with him and John Bailey (Bailey Bikes) was the first to counter Tilford as the front group was crushing the course.
The front group stayed in tact exchanging work and by the third lap John Behrens (Bailey Bikes) and Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Focus), who was in ninth after a bad start, caught their ways back on the lead group. Coming into the fourth lap Bailey and Chris Jackson (Rambuski Law) had both flatted and crashed putting them of the group. By the end of the lap Prenzlow attacked on the climb, Tilford was immediately on his wheel, and Behrens held in too. Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road), Phillip Tintsman (Masi) and Gary Douville (SDG/Felt p.b. Irt) faded back.
The next lap coming out of the sand steps, Tilford hit his knee on this stem (a knee he already he had an issue with), and had to pull out of the race. Behrens was the only one left of the group. Prenzlow rode Behrens off his wheel with 2 to go, and soloed in for the win. When the rest came in the top five were Behrens, Gritters, Tintsman, and Douville.
It was a fun day for a good cause thanks to Spy Optic and a great first day of racing as the SoCal Prestige Series headed deeper south day two for Adams Avenue Cyclocross event, part cross, part track, and tech fun.
Future cyclocross champion at the SPY Team tent. © Mark Vaughn