Matt Obregon (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) on his way to winning the Category A Mens race. © Harry Renfree Field

By Tim Westmore

At the second Sacramento Cyclocross event of the season, Matt Obregon (Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada) took the win in the Men’s Category A race. A warm autumn day and a flat, fast course saw a slew of racers take turns leading the top men’s field. The lead group was a line of seven riders including Obregon, Mitch Trux (City Cycle of San Francisco), Max Jenkins (Folsom Bike), Jesse Moore (Cal Giant), Keith Hillier (Marco Pro – Strava), Rainier Schaefer (MASH SF), and Collin Samaan (The Bicycle Business).

The crowd was expecting a possible sprint finish as, on the final lap, the leading line of racers disappeared from view into a wooded section of the course. Upon reappearing, however, the racers were fewer in number and stretched out. Two racers tangled out of view of the spectators and played havoc with who could to stay in touch with the lead. Those in front rode into the final technical section of turns and barriers; Obregon moved to the front by the last couple of corners, despite contact in a “racing incident.” The final sweeping corner out of the technical section made Obregon’s sprint a formality but, with it, he took the race win. The rest of the podium had Collin Samaan in second, and with it the series lead, followed by Jesse Moore in third and Keith Hillier fourth.

Men's Category A Podium - Matt Obregon (first), Collin Samaan (second), Jesse Moore (third but standing fourth), Keith Hillier (fourth)

Obregon said the flat course suited his road racing heart. “[I] didn’t really show my face out in the wind too much today. I was lucky in last lap [as] a couple guys took themselves out.” About the pass for the win, Obregon continued “I was able to come in on a guy [that] I saw was coming out wide on one [corner] and I was able to get him on the inside. I had my foot down. I did contact him a little bit but I had my line, he had his line. It seemed to frustrate him that I did come in contact but [It was] non-intentional, of course.

Elite Women: Sherrill Takes the Win

Earlier in the day, the Women’s A race was an interesting and exciting affair. At the line up, a boa-wearing Jacquie Phelan (Women’s Mountain Bike and Tea Society), in keeping with her renown, stepped out in front of the racers to lead a cheer of “W – O – W”. It was for all the women about to compete.

Emily Thurston (Stevens) and Ellen Sherrill (Bike Station Aptos) turned out for their first ’cross races of the season. The race winner two weeks ago, Sarah Maile (Ventana Mountain Bike), was absent but the other podium finishers, Jen Jordan (Sycomp Racing/Team Affinity) and Amanda Seigle (Metromint Cycling), did take to the field.

Ellen Sherrill (Bike Station Aptos) brings her recent mountain biking experience to bear.

At the start of the race, Thurston stormed out at tremendous pace. An audible grumbling or two came from those quickly falling behind. An early lead group formed consisting of four racers: Thurston, Sherrill, Mary-Ellen Ash (Bay101/HRS/Rocklobster), and Jordan. Ash soon fell back followed by Jordan a few laps into the race.

Thurston and Sherrill then took turns pulling and maintaining a significant gap to Jordan. Although the pace did slow as the race continued, Thurston and Sherrill kept driving. Late in the last lap, Sherrill took the lead for good with some good cornering. Sherrill solidified her race by a fortunate recovery as both leaders had difficulties going into and out of the final plank barriers. Thurston had trouble clipping out whereas Sherrill said she took too long to clip back in. Nevertheless, Sherrill’s late grab of the lead was enough to hold off Thurston, as the Stevens racer took second. Jordan grabbed the third step of the podium, as well as the overall series lead.

“All [of] the mountain biking I had been doing probably paid off in the corners,” said Sherrill, “I was taking good lines or gaining good ground. I figured [Thurston] would try to drop me on the flat power sections on the last lap [but] we were dealing with going around alot of people. So, that may have helped keep her from jumping up.” Thurston and Sherrill went into the final section of the course together that Sherrill said, “This was where I need[ed] to drop her. It was the last corner before approaching the boards that I went around her to the outside. [Then] we both had trouble with our peddles. Once I finally got clipped in I just sprinted my little brains out and managed to keep away from [Thurston].”

Women's Category A Podium - Sacramento Cyclocross Series. Ellen Sherrill (first), Emily Thurston (second), Jen Jordan (third)

Thurston said she intended to start-off at a fast pace to avoid spending extra energy moving through traffic later. “I figured that if [Sherrill] got ahead of me anytime through the corners and barriers near the finish line [then] chances were she would win. So, I was trying to start and stay in front but I missed my unclip going into that last barrier and she got ahead.” Thurston went on to say her knee was treating her well today and hers was a straight-up battle with Sherrill.

Coming in third for the Women’s race was Jen Jordan and she now assumes the series lead ahead of Amanda Seigle. Mary-Ellen Ash took fourth in the race with Marja-Liisa Magnuson (Dirt City) in fifth. The next race for the series is at Condon Park, Grass Valley on 23 October 2011.

More details and full race results are available at