The podium at High Desert Cross.  Kenneth HIll

The podium at High Desert Cross. © Kenneth Hill

by Dave Sheek

PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA – With two weekends left in the SoCal prestige series presented by SPY Optic, the series headed to the high desert of California for another sunny day of competition. While it was sunny, there were cool desert winds that made for a slight winter chill and tactical racing on the fast dry course.

The course: The 2.5km course wove through the grounds of Marie Kerr Park, a jewel to the Palmdale recreation system, with skate parks, walking trails, baseball, soccer and plenty of other fields. It was a majority of grass with some dirt sections and one short but deep sand pit that really challenged those who decided to ride the sand. With two long straights the course designers broke things up with some tight twisting turns, a few off camber, a short run up, and barrier section. It was a restless challenge that kept riders on the gas.

With only two races left in the series those who are the points leaders in each of their respective categories are in the points chase to continue to gain their best scores for the overall that will be next weekend in Bakersfield followed by a second day of racing with the NorCal vs. SoCal showdown. This points chase is making for some great late season competition. Great rides of the day were in the single-speed event as Alan Danger Zinniker (Ritte Racing) rode back to the front of the race after having to change bikes from mechanical issues, in the men’s B race Jesse Rogers (Cynergy Cycles) was working hard to ride off the front and soloed in for a great win, in both elite races, and many others from women, youth, and juniors.

Elite Women:
The field was mixed with the A and B field which was a fun choice as it stiffened the competition and some ladies got to try their skills against the faster group. From the gun it was Amanda Schaper (Ritte Racing) followed closely by the field. Coming through lap one, Schaper was weaving her way through the tricky turns and had put a 15 second gap on the field.

Dorothy Wong (The TEAM SoCalCross) led the chase with Sarah Brodsky (Bicycle John’s Serious Cycling) close behind. It was getting close to Schaper but as the short laps went on with a lot of little sections to challenge riders Schaper continued to ride smooth and opened her gap to almost a minute to take the win. Wong also broke away in her chase to take second. Third went to Brodsky, followed by Jocelyn Pogue (La Grange) fourth, and Madelaine Melcher (The TEAM SoCalCross) in fifth.

Elite Men:
Jason Siegle (SDG-Felt p.b. iRT) who has been showing some great late season form grabbed the holeshot. A half lap in Siegle punched it on the windy straight to open a small gap from the field. Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific-Focus) led the chase as they stayed together through lap one.

On lap two Sielge held his lead and continued to open a gap on the chase group that was splitting apart as Prenzlow picked up the pace with Gareth Feldstein (Ritte Racing) and Jonny Weir (Shimano) staying in the group.

The laps continued to stay fast as riders were consistently putting in times of less than five minutes. Half way through Weir dropped back as Prenzlow and Feldstein continued their pace in pursuit of the leader. With three to go Prenzlow was on a solo mission to bring back the leader.

In the end it was Siegle who soloed in for his fourth win this season. Series leader Prenzlow was 2nd with Feldstein 3rd. Weir kept riding strong and was close to catching back to Feldstein for fourth and David Sheek (SDG-Felt p.b. iRT) chased all day but couldn’t get back to Weir to take fifth.

Another fun day of competition is finished as the SoCal series heads north to Bakersfield next week for the series finale Saturday and then the long awaited North vs. South showdown. With rain in the forecast and the world famous Mr. David Towle headed to town to announce the big weekend, it should be a great end to the SoCal Cross season.

For more information go to: www.socalcross.org