This week was the 10th event of the Southern California Prestige Series of Cyclocross: LIVE! Long Beach, CYCLO-FEST, an idea of promoter Dorothy Wong, advocating a healthy lifestyle and promoting the benefits of the bicycle within each community the Series visits. This is the fourth time El Dorado Park has hosted a ’cross race, but never has it been like it was this past Sunday. The usually sunny Southern California weekends turned into dark cloudy and cold (40s) as SoCalCross saw its first moments of Fall this first week of November. In addition to falling back with the time change, the stormy weather blew through the City of Long Beach presenting some real cyclocross conditions.
The course was a mixture of about 70% grass, 20% paved and 10% sand and dirt. The grass, while absorbing most of the rain, did have a bit of mud and a lot of heavy pedaling sections. The pavement became an area of strategy for racers to recover and the deep left curving Shimano sand pit was the one of the biggest challenges as riders continuously struggled trying to ride the pit. The biggest challenge of all really just came down to muddy turns and the SPY staircase.
Jenna Jammer Kowalski (Cynergy Cycles) was hot off the start, grabbing the hole shot and pushing the pace through the first half of lap one. The rest of the women lined up after the first turn to chase down Jammer. Series leader Allison Mann (Rock N’ Road) was a few wheels back and Christina Probert-Turner (The Team SoCal Cross) made the first move in the chase coming out of the sand and making her move to past Jammer to take the lead. The rest of the field responded to new pace Turner was pushing as she blew things apart on the second lap taking only a few select riders with her up front.
After Turner, it was Mann who continued to work her way up and set the fastest lap of the day, on lap three, as she took control of the race. The entire race remained close as Mann would open some space Turner would close it down. The rest of the women worked hard in the battle for third as these two gained five to ten seconds on the field each lap. Eventually, Mann took the win holding off Turner as the two put together some amazing racing.
Amanda Schaper (Ritte Racing) made her move around Jammer early was close with the leaders for a couple laps but settled in for third just ahead of Jammer in fourth. Fifth was Nicole Brandt (LA Velocity) who had a great start and was consistent all race to hold off the experience of Series leader, Dorothy Wong (The Team SoCal Cross).
It was another exciting, tactical and fast paced aggressive race for SoCalCross’ elite men with challenging course conditions. Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific-Focus) took the hole shot followed by Brandon Gritters (Rock N’ Road), Garry Douville (SDG-Felt), Kyle Gritters (Rock N’ Road) and Chris Jackson (Rambuski Law). The rest of the field filled in but the front instantly pushed the pace.
The first few laps from front to back were aggressive, blocking, bumping and fighting for positions. Douville attacked at the end of lap one before the log jump so that he could get a clean bunny-hop over it, but B. Gritters blocked and K. Gritters took the outside line attacking into the log section. Through the first two laps this seemed to be the case. There was a lot fighting and blocking for position especially as the Gritters’ brothers strategically tried early tactics.
A few laps in and Douville led the chase to bring K. Gritters back in to the group. Jackson has seemed to have a string of bike issues lately and again he had to pit a couple times which unfortunately pushed him back in the field. The sand section ended up being where gaps were opening and Douville lost ground mid race.
B. Gritters and Prenzlow attacked as Douville had to chase with K. Gritters on his wheel. John Behrens and teammate John Bailey were behind and looked like they could close down the last 10 seconds gap to Douville. Gritters and Prenzlow couldn’t agree to work together which allowed Douville again the chance to pull back on to the front group.
With two laps to go the group of four was back together but B. Gritters again cleans the sandpit and attacks. Prenzlow dismounts which slowed the chase and again Douville was chasing with K. Gritters on his wheel. This time B. Gritters and Prenzlow who quickly surged back up created a big gap that could not be closed.
K. Gritters flats right at the bike pit and Douville attacked ahead to hold off Behrens who was maintaining a close 5- to 10-second gap. In the end Brandon Gritters took the win to continue to secure his SoCal Series lead. Prenzlow was a close second, third was Douville, with Behrens just behind in fourth and Kyle Gritters to round out the top five.
Next week the Series will head inland from the beach for Velocity Cross in Chino, California. November is California Cyclocross (CACX) Championships month. One race in each region will yield rankings, equating to starting positions for the NorCal/SoCal Showdown and end-of-season finale in Bakersfield, January 21st and 22nd. Saturday the 21st will be the Prestige Series finale and Sunday the NorCal/SoCal Showdown.
The two ranking races are:
Stafford Lake CX 11/6 in Novato, Marin County.
SoCal’s Velocity Cyclocross 11/13 at Prado Dam Regional Park, Chino.
Each region’s District Championship and last year’s showdown winners will also stage at the front for each category race. Southern California has bragging rights so far!
For more information go to: www.socalcross.org
1 Brandon Gritters 56:16.701 2 Brent Prenzlow Celo Pacific / Focus 56:23.393 3 Gary Douville The TEAM SoCalCross 56:39.447 4 John Behrens Bailey Bikes 56:45.125 5 Kyle Gritters Rock N Road 57:02.808 6 John Bailey Bailey Bikes/Dime a dozen racing 57:03.381 7 Anton Petrov 57:20.694 8 David Forkner SDG Felt 57:33.679 9 Eric Colton The TEAM SoCalCross 57:45.952 10 Chris Jackson Rambuski Law 58:35.754 11 Oliver Hutchinson Team Helens 58:36.564 12 Donny Carroll Danny's Cafe/Spy Optic 59:14.472 13 Ted Willard SDG / Felt p.b. IRT Wheels 59:29.460 14 Eric Bostrom Team Sho Air 59:40.476 15 Miguel Valadez Ellsworth 59:47.874 16 Josh Cady Cynergy Cycles - Untouched World 59:50.068 17 Garnet Vertican SPY Optics 1:00:36 18 David Sheek SDG / Felt p.b. IRT Wheels 1:01:02 19 Ben Bertiger The TEAM 1:01:36 20 Doug Hall The TEAM SoCalCross 1:02:05 21 Jordan Haggard 1:02:15 22 Justin Christopher 1:03:19 23 Jesse Rogers Cynergy Cycles 1:03:54 24 Alexander Vaughn-Ruiz The TEAM SoCalCross 56:59.635 25 Michael Roecklin Stage 17 Racing 57:56.911 DNF Ty Hathaway Mudfoot/GSC/iRT/Poler 38:07.307 DNF DJ Limardi Platinum Performance 3.81 DNF Ben Bostrom Sho Air/Specialized DNS Matthew Gutowski Arts Cyclery/Wildhorse Wines DNS Jim Pappe Young's Commerical Transport/Yokohl Ranch DNS ERic Woods Cynergy Cycles
1 Allison Mann Rock N Road Cyclery 41:11.787 2 Christina Probert Turner The Team Turner 41:34.314 3 Amanda Schaper Ritte Racing 42:55.239 4 Jenna Kowalski Cynergy/untouch World 43:11.227 5 Nicole Brandt LA Velocity 44:12.013 6 Dorothy Wong The TEAM SoCalCross 44:32.490 7 Laurie Winter Team Redlands 46:29.263 8 Vanessa Humic CSULB 48:54.579 9 Amy Hutner Herbalife LaGrange 50:07.898 10 :Hannah Eckvahl The TEAM 51:02.957 11 Desira Miller Redlands 43:07.166 DNF Carol Ruckle DNF Susan Thompson PAA Remax