Cyclocross racing at Laguna Del Sol © Tim Westmore

by Tim Westmore

Round eight of the Sacramento Cyclocross Series was held at Laguna Del Sol, a clothing-optional resort. The small manmade lake of the venue’s namesake was the central feature of the course that included grass, paved road, and packed earth. Course designer Asa Salas took advantage of small changes in elevation, but the course was mostly flat. Early morning frost gave way to another sunny day in Northern California, continuing the season’s lack of adverse weather conditions.

Women’s Racing

Ellen Sherrill (Bike Station Aptos) gets off to an ealry race lead © Tim Westmore

In the race for Women’s Category A, Ellen Sherrill (Bike Station Aptos) started off fast to mount a 24-second lead by the middle of the second lap. From there it was smooth racing over the bumpy course. Lap times indicate Sherrill slowing for the last three of six laps but staying ahead of the pace set behind her by Marja-Liisa Magnuson (Kinetic Cycles). At the finish, Sherrill took the win; Magnuson set her third fastest time on the last lap to secure second place, and Amanda Siegle (Metromint Cycling) finished third.

Sherrill confirmed her strategy was to get away early and she indeed set the fastest lap of the race on the first lap, surpassing all other times by 15 seconds. Knowing the lap times from previous races of her competitors and the success she enjoyed in Round Two of the series, Sherrill said, “I figured I could probably gap them by motoring out from the go, then check on how much space I had throughout the race and pace myself as needed. [A strategy that] seems to have worked.” Sherrill went on to say, “Although not quite as hilly or obstacle-laden, I enjoyed the course a lot. The course thread through the driveway between the cafe, pool and spa in the central part of the nudist resort. Lap one, the air was still a bit chilly, so the coast was clear. I think it was during my fourth lap, the air a touch more tepid, that I was first confronted with full frontal nudity strolling toward me. I put my head down and tried to maintain focus – on RACING. I think it’s great that Sac CX continues to use this venue, it’s really unique and offbeat, which is thoroughly cyclocross at heart in that I believe our collective ‘cross culture to embrace the non-mundane.”

Women's A Podium L-to-R: Magnuson (2nd), Sherrill (1st), Siegle (3rd) © Tim Westmore

The result for the season sees Magnuson winning the series whilst Siegle and Stace Cooper (The Bicycle Business) tie for second place. Despite four wins from four races, Sarah Maile is in fourth place overall in the best-six-of-eight series. Early series-leader Jen Jordan (Sycomp Racing/Team Affinity) finishes in the fifth position.

Men’s Racing

The Category A race for men brought a strong field. Series-irregulars Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms), Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus), and Don Myrah (Ibis/ took to the starting line. Former winners and season regulars Keith Hillier (Marc Pro-Strava), Matt Obregon (Team Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada), and Mitch Trux (City Cycle of San Francisco) were also on hand. As in his only two races in the series, Kaiser got out to an early lead mid-way through the first lap, but Jones caught up by the lap’s end. For the next seven laps, Jones and Kaiser exchanged the lead between each other while gaining ground on the rest of the field, headed by Myrah, Trux, and Gannon Myall (Cal Giant/Specialized).

Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) leading Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms) © Tim Westmore

On lap eight, Jones dropped Kaiser and came around with a lead that he would not relinquish, eventually extending his winning margin to 33 seconds over Kaiser in second-place. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Jones, “I don’t get to race in Northern California that often and Cody [Kaiser] is the only guy I knew. So, I figured I would follow [him] around for awhile and see how it shook down during the first half of the race.” Jones continued, “Once we got [within] 20 minutes to go I decided I really need to stick the gas and see if [Kaiser] could stay or not. He stayed for a little bit, like half a lap or so, and then I just kept on the gas until the finish.” About the venue, Jones said, “The first time was a real big surprise back there by the pool. I didn’t realise that the race was being held at a nudist colony. That’s awesome.”

After Jones and Kaiser, Myrah took the third step of the podium. Trux finished in fourth place. Myall reduced the early gap between himself and Trux to under ten seconds but fell away again late to finish fifth. For the series, Keith Hillier was the overall winner with Max Jenkins (Folsom Bike) second. Matt Obregon was unable to secure enough points on the day to pass Robert Braun (Alta Alpina Cycling) for third in the series. Steven Springhorn (Team Revolutions) finished fifth for the season.

Men's A Podium L-to-R: Trux (4th), Kaiser (2nd), Jones (1st), Myrah (3rd), Myall (5th) © Tim Westmore

In his second year as promoter of the Sacramento Cyclocross Series, Brian Joder said, “The season was awesome [and] ran smooth as ever. We’ve a really good team to run it and I think the word is getting out. Everything worked out pretty great. This year there was a slight increase [in racers] yet again. It’s only a matter of time until it starts building like a snowball.” About his plans and expectations for next season, Joder remarked that, “we’re going to keep trying to look at some venues a little more toward the Bay Area so that we can draw a few more riders. We are looking at different venues [to] spice things up and keep things new.”