Spooky Cross 2009. © Greg Page

Spooky Cross 2009. © Greg Page

by Dave Sheek

There were more costumes around the venue before sundown than Target has stocked the first week of October. The racing was great all day but as it got dark the event went from stock to sick! Spooky Cross brought a record amount of riders to the Southern California Prestige series and a high profile group, current and legendary champions of cycling, motocross stars Johnny O’Mara and Ben Bostrom, Pro road rider Tony “The Count” Cruz, and from the world of Mountain Biking there were Ned Overend, Sid Taberlay, and Brian Lopes.

The race was magical. While there seemed to be a lot of long, straight sections, the guys from Rock N’ Road along with the SoCalCross designers did a great job adding a wide variety of technical aspects to the course. For example, the longest sand section in a race, outside of the beach, which came into a sharp 180-degree turn and up into the dark and spooky forest. It was a great experience for riders and spectators alike as everyone enjoyed the tasty foods from the Green Truck run on veggie oil and the event was solar powered by Energy Efficiency Solar, music from DJ Echo Brown and three different bands kicking off with the Gruesome Twosome, the Rims and feature rock band: Kinkade.

While the elite fields had some awesome racing the Team Duke Spooky Cross Costume relay race spectacle was a frighteningly hilarious sight. The event benefited the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and one lucky participant won a pair of Oakley Sunglasses!  The Phelps brothers seemed to take an early lead while their chest were getting chaffed from their medals.  And a lot of others did not seem to care about the race as much as showing off their character or smashing the pumpkin hurdles. El Guapo the infamous wrestling sensation body slammed at least four freshly carved harvests before returning to his bike and threatening the crowds.

Elite Women

The young Kendall Ryan (Team SoCal Cross/CICLE) again dominated the elite women’s field. It was a hard fought battle but she was able to monopolize on Megan Elliott’s (Black Mountain Cyclery) bobble in the super sand pit as she opened just enough of a gap to put in one last attack that would stick allowing her to ride in for the win with Elliot finishing second. The first chase was another great battle as teammates Dorothy Wong and Alexis Ryan (Team SoCal Cross/CICLE) battled with “Killer Bee” Beatriz Rodriguez (InCycle), Lana Atchley and Nor Cal visitor Melody Metzger (Cal Giant).  The chase group broke apart with Atchley and Alexis Ryan settling into a battle for the 3rd spot on the podium.  Rounding out the top five it was Lana Atchley taking third, 16 year old Alexis Ryan fourth, Dot Wong (Team SoCal Cross/CICLE) taking in fifth, and “Bee” Rodriguez taking 6th.

Elite Men

Spooky Cross 2009. © Greg Page

Spooky Cross 2009. © Greg Page

The ultra competitive elite men’s field had the strongest group of the year and the best racing yet. Series leader Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/B&L) was ready for a battle as Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air) was back out this week looking to take a win after finishing second to Prenzlow the previous week. But, Rock N’ Roads Gritters brothers also had some ideas to take a win at their home course. From the start it looked like it was going to be Rock N’ Road’s Gritters brothers who controlled the race with Prenzlow sitting in second. Taberlay had a fast start and a big crash in the first turn putting him in dead last after he was back on his bike from the wreckage. Kyle Gritters lead through the first lap with Prenzlow in second and brother Brandon in third. It seemed as Kyle was going to open a gap but Prenzlow never let it get too far as he reeled him back in on the third lap to command the lead, leaving Brandon behind setting the pace for the first chase group. The chase group was together at first with Brandon Gritters, John Bailey and Donny Carrol (Bailey Bikes), Ned Overend (Specialized), Gary Douville (Platinum) and others. But, around this third lap things started to break up. Sho-Air’s Ben Bostrom launched a huge effort taking the lead on the chase that broke it apart. However, he paid for the effort ending his night early with three laps to go. It was an unfortunate night for Bailey too as he had to make an early visit to the pits due to mechanical issues but was still able to pull out a top eight finish.

From here is was the second chase group whom started to crack and guys dropped off, but only because another rider came flying through the field. Sid Taberlay came back from the crash and was on a mission to catch the front. With Prenzlow and Kyle Gritters on the front, it was Taberlay and Brandon who opened the next gap on the chase, putting out their own efforts to catch the leaders.

The kids get into the Halloween spirit at Spooky Cross 2009, by Joe Lawwill.

The kids get into the Halloween spirit at Spooky Cross 2009, by Joe Lawwill.

In the end it was a fantastic fight as Prenzlow threw out one more huge effort entering the super sand pit but Gritters was able to hold on. The two came around the last turn and it came down to a sprint finish once the two hit the pavement, but it was Prenzlow by a bike length to take the biggest win of the year and Kyle Gritters finishing 2nd. About thirty-seconds behind it was Sid Taberlay and Brandon Gritters. Taberlay squeezed out Gritters with one last effort through the sand and then the dark forest to have a ten-second gap for 3rd with Brandon in 4th. And, to round out the top five it was another battle as the second chase still in tack came flying in with four riders sprinting for the line. It was Donny Carol (Bailey Bikes) 5th who just pulled ahead of Gary Douville 6th, Jason Siegle 7th and Ned Overend who pulled out 9th.

UP NEXT:  STORM THE BEACH, SUNDAY, NOV 1ST

It’s almost half way through cyclocross season here in Southern California, and there hasn’t been any mud worth mentioning in the SoCalCross Prestige Series presented by Shimano. Nevertheless, we can guarantee that your lust for epic racing will be slated for November 1st when the SCPS makes stop number eight in Oceanside, CA for Storm the Beach Cyclocross. Presented by Celo Pacific, Storm the Beach is patterned after the famous Duinencross race in Koksijde Belgium. Racers will be challenged by steep seaside bluffs, undulating sand dunes, high speed fire roads, and the Pacific Ocean itself as they dodge the surf for 400 meters along incoming waves. The race has been scheduled this year to coincide with low tide so that nobody will actually have to ride in the surf as has occurred previously (then again, if you want to go for a dip with your bike, we’re not going to stop you). After the race, you’ll be able to wash off those layers of sand, dust, and sea spray courtesy of Nomad Portable Power Cleaners.

Fifteen fields across six races means that there is a skill level and an age group for every ability level. In addition, a free kids fun race will take place at 2:25 pm with prizes for all participants.

If you don’t want to race, come on out and watch: spectators can expect to see great racing all day long culminating in the Elite Women’s race at 1:30 pm and the Elite Men’s race, presented by Hoover and Nebrig, at 2:30 pm. The best cyclocross talent in the region will be chasing after SoCalCross series points and a generous prize list of $1200 in cash plus hundreds more in merchandise.

Racers, make sure to sign up at SportsBaseOnline as all pre-registered individuals will be entered in a race day raffle to win a set of wheels from Revolution Wheelworks. For more race information, go to www.celopacific.org

Complete series information can be found at:  www.SoCalCross.org