Overend is still very much in the mix © Kate Ybarra

Overend 'crossed the nation to take in a SoCal race, then raced in Iowa. © Kate Ybarra

November 23, 2009: Ojai, CA – With clear skies, no winds and a fantastic course, Lake Casitas park was this year’s venue for the Southern California / Nevada Cyclocross Championships sponsored by Shimano. The course supplied one of the most consistently flowing races of the season. The combination of turns with loose dirt, fast sweeping grass sections, climbs and the two flat road sections gave riders a lot of opportunities to race more tactically, which was evident all day.

We have to say congratulations to all the new champions who went out and worked so hard. There were many excellent races but a few can’t go without mentioning. In the men’s 35-39 event, Fritz Bottger (PAA) and Garnet Vertican (Giant Bikes) battled for the entire race, putting on one of the best shows. They destroyed each other, lap after lap, exchanging the lead until it ultimately came down to the final sprint were Bottger was able to take the title. In the men’s 50-54, it was Bob Langin, Sr. who has been sidelined off and on recently due to a heart condition. It didn’t seem to slow him today, however, as he pulled off his biggest win of the season.

Elite Women:
Coryn Rivera (Proman) was back in the mix this week as she tunes herself up for the national championships and it was Rivera’s race from the start. She took the hole shot and led the race off of the pavement, through the first 180-degree turn and all the way on to the finish. On her tail was Melody Metzger (Cal Giant) with the other Southern California star, Kendall Ryan (SoCalCross/CICLE), in third. The two worked hard trying to close the gap to Rivera, but Rivera’s power was too much.

The real battle then became for second and third. With two laps to go, Metzger had a mechanical which was just enough to allow Ryan to sneak away. Metzger held her ground but could not catch back up to Ryan. In the end it was Rivera who added another title to her belt, Kendall Ryan second, Metzger third, Baumketzer fourth and Alexis Ryan to round out the top five.

Prenzlow's fine barrier form © Kate Ybarra

Prenzlow's fine barrier form © Kate Ybarra

Elite Men:
John Behrens (Bailey Bikes), last week’s winner, came out of the long road start in the lead and he continued his pace through the first half of lap one. Then it was series leader Brent Prenzlow (B&L/Celo Pacific) who commanded the front spot going up the long climb and through the triple barrier section. He had the lead position but the front group was not breaking up. All race it was a group of at least six to seven riders as they tactically watched each other and applied their efforts in their chosen sections – but none of the attacks would not crack the group. On the third lap going into the fast flat barrier section, Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized), who bunny hopped the barrier each lap, went over the handlebars hard. Although the crash shook him up, it wasn’t enough to put him out of contention. He relied on his horsepower as he pedaled back onto the front group within half a lap.

Prenzlow was up front racing smart with the other lead riders as the front group exchanged pulls through different sections, continuing to gap the rest of the elite field. Gary Douville (Platinum Performance) was working hard on the front, then Taberlay, Mountain Bike Legend Ned Overend and others as the group came through each lap. With four to go the anticipated winner Prenzlow dropped off the front pack with his foot unclipped, maybe with a pedal issue, but by the fifth lap he was back in the group.

Finally, with one to go, a pack of six came to the last turn before the barriers. Mark Noble (Nonstop Ciclismo) made a move in the tight corner to pass Overend but he lost traction and slid out which made Prenzlow run into the back of him. Taberlay, Douville and Brandon Gritters (Rock N’ Road Cyclery) capitalized on the two tangled riders. Taberlay instantly attacked leaving Douville and Gritters in the chase. Prenzlow and Noble were back in the chase quickly but it was close.

Taberlay kept attacking through the final climb and onto the road for the final sprint for the win – however his Australian citizenship precludes him from holding the Southern California / Nevada Championship. Gary Douville took the title with his second place finish. Behind, sprinting up the road, it was Brent Prenzlow who just passed Gritters before the line for third, with Gritters Fourth and Ned Overend rounding out the top five.

Thank you to all who came out for another weekend of racing and spectating. The crowd’s cheers definitely charged the racing for this exciting championship weekend.

Photo Gallery:

Congratulations to all the awarded Southern California/Nevada District Champions…
10-12, Hannah Eckvahl (Velo Bella)
13-14, Tori Baldewin (Team Velocity)
15-16, Hannah Rae Finchamp (Team CICLE)
17-18, Somersby Jenkins (Echelon Santa Barbara)
10-12, Duncan Reid (BikePalace/BackOnTrack)
13-14, Cammeron Williams (Bear Valley Bikes)
15-16, Alex Darville (Echelon Santa Barbara)
17-18, Peter Morris (Bike Religion)
50+, Carol Ruckle (Team Possibilities)
45-49, Trina Baumsteiner (Team Reubuski Law)
40-44, Christina Probeft
35-39, Rachel Schmidt (XStrategy)
Cat 3/4, Sarah Brodsley (SCNCA)
Pro/Elite, Coryn Rivera (Proman)
60+, John Ruding (UC Cyclery/JW Flooring)
55+, Jon Miller (Rock N’ Road Cyclery)
50-54, Bobby Langin Sr. (Platinum Performance)
45-49, Gary Hanson (Bike Style USA)
40+, Mike Lee (Rock N’ Road Cyclery)
35-39, Fredrick Bottger (PAA)
Cat 4, David Bianco (PAA)
Cat 3, Marco Arocha (Sho-Air)
Pro/Elite, Gary Douville (Platinum Performance)

Open- Noah Holcomb (Cannondale Factory Team)