While the 2012 National Championships are over, many racers throughout the country have fitness and motivation to extend the cyclocross season to mimic the European racing. In Bakersfield, California, two days of racing wrapped up the season for both North and Southern California racers. Day one saw the finale of the Southern California Prestige Series. Stay tuned for Sunday’s report on the Nor Cal vs. So Cal battle.
Bakersfield, CA – “One to go, one to go, one to go!” the famous ring of Dave Towle filled the B-Town finale as the SoCal prestige series, presented by SPY Optic, hit Bakersfield for the last of its 22 races this season. While most series have been done for weeks, and all the big events in the U.S finished, SoCal Series promoter Dorothy Wong along with the B-town race promoter Sam Ames put together one last double race weekend with the series finale and the Nor Cal vs. So Cal.
The European style course had a fast, long paved start before the sweeping left turn that lead into the high-speed technical off-camber grass sections. The course then came back into the main expo area hitting the “Rock Lobster Launch Pad,” a wooden flyover with much potential for sweet jumping action. The main course action was back in the main spectator area with the leg crushing climbs, barriers, steep run up, and technical descents.
From the start it was Amanda Schaper (Ritte Racing) taking the hole shot and leading the field through the first half lap. Then, once back in the main expo area, Christine Probert-Turner (The TEAM SoCal Cross/Turner Bikes) made her move passing Schaper over the barrier section and starting to move ahead of the field to get a gap by the top of the first climb.
From here is was Turner all the way as she soloed to take the win and final race of the SoCal Prestige season. Schaper stayed on the gas, riding hard to keep her position and grab 2nd. Series promoter Dorothy Wong (The TEAM SoCalCross) chased all race to finish 3rd with a big smile with such a successful season behind her. 4th was Hannah Eckvahl (The TEAM SoCalCross) and 5th her teammate McKenzie Melcher.
As the final race of the season, it was down to a few riders for the series overall championship. The points were close, which was going to make things exciting from the start, but not as exciting as the rain that started 15 minutes before the race to completely throw off the riding conditions for the first few laps of the race, until it stopped after lap two.
It was B-town local Gareth Feldstein (Ritte Racing) with the hole shot, leading into the grass section until he crashed in the most technical of the off-camber turns. Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Focus) then took the lead and pushed the pace taking Kyle Gritters (Rock N Road) with him as they split the field apart leading into lap two.
Prenzlow and Kyle rode off the front and stayed away for five laps as Prenzlow was going to secure his series lead over the others. In the chase group it was Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road), Gary Douville (SDG/Felt p.b. iRT) and teammate Jason Siegle. Each of the three made some mistakes or crashed, trading positions as they chased.
With Prenzlow on the front, Kyle made his move to take the lead and slowly started to pull away from Prenzlow. With two to go Siegle broke away from the others on the chase, as riders were strung out all over the course, to catch Prenzlow. He was looking to continue his charge.
Then with one to go Siegle made his pass on Prenzlow, but it was not enough to catch Kyle Gritters, who soloed in for a win. Prenzlow knew he was safe with his series points and rolled in third behind Siegle. fourth went to Douville and fifth was another SDG/Felt teammate Anton Petrov to round out the top five.
The great course and event from all the hard work of Bakersfield local volunteers made for a fantastic day one of the Final Showdown weekend. There was a lot of great racing and some hard battles as riders battled it out for the series overall in many different categories. But, the day was not over as the evening party was planned at a downtown brewery and competitors were looking to rest up for day two of the B-town weekend and to see who is the better Cal Series of ’cross racing and who could take home the true California state champion jersey.
More to come on day two, or for more info go www.socalcross.org
Gallery from Tim Westmore: