Saturday, December 22, 2018

Nationals- part 3

 A trip to a different city would not be complete without sampling some of the local culinary specialties. Here is Eric Brown sitting with his namesake- the 'hot-brown', a Louisville specialty. This 3400 calorie monster is four pieces of toast , turkey, bacon , carmelized onions covered with a gruyere bechamel sauce. You'll have to ask Eric how it was- I opted out. This lunch was the post race meal after the Wednesday races. We didn't need dinner after this meal at the historic Brown Hotel.
 Another place we went to more than once was 'Eatz' , a Vietnamese restaurant that had only just opened a couple of months ago. The food was amazing- good enough for most of us to make return trips for more during the week.

Here is a genuine example of a Jackelope - not something you'll see west of the Mississippi. This was seen in an eclectic junk shop a few blocks away from our rental houses. Alex Work found this store and it was filled with some really odd stuff.
 Team meal # 2 for nine people- Linguini Carbonara in both normal and gluten-free. Everyone got fed well and the entire meal got eaten that night- a first ! Cooking meals for the team has been a tradition going back at least 10 years. We only cooked two dinners at the house as the city was full of great affordable eateries .
 Monday morning everyone had flown out with the exception of myself and Brendan. This is the breakfast I had at the Grael House, a place recommended by Eric Brown. World class grits, biscuits, bacon and eggs. I wouldn't need to eat for another 8 hours after this.
No trip would be complete without a visit to the local bowling alley. We almost missed out on the chance but luckily there was a bowling alley just down the road from the airport. Brendan and I managed to eek out two games before leaving to return the rental van and go to the gate for our flight home. All in all, I would say that this is one of my top three nationals weeks of all time. The city was really a great place- the team rode as hard as they could and everyone pitched in to help the greater good. Trips like this show the reason that teams like this exist- and as we know, reasons happen for a reason.

Nationals-part 2

After Wednesday the crowds got larger and the women's master fields  were on the course . Katheen got another chance at the course but now it was drier and faster as she was racing in the late afternoon. With the very last call-up she would have to pass a lot of riders to get into the top-15. This she did , riding a clean race and finishing 12th.
 The next day was all about the men's master fields and the collegiate races. Kailin Waterman had one of the last call-ups in the 75 man 40-44 age group field and rode to 30th place. Alex Work rode from about 79th to 23rd place out of 111 riders in the mens 45-49 race.
 Noah Hayes rode for UC Santa Barbara in the collegiate sport race- for some reason the USAC did not publish the results from this race but Noah rode well.
 Saturday was all about juniors and single speeds . We had only one junior making the long trip to Kentucky but he would prove to be a great representative for the team. Dan English had to start on the 8th row of the 13-14 age group race. There were 91 kids in the field- Dan was in 10th place in the first half lap. He wound up finishing 6th- this might be considered the ride of the week for the team. I asked Dan how he managed to pass about 50 riders in the first 5 minutes......he didn't really have an answer. It was amazing to watch.
 In the single speed mens race we had 4 riders: Kailin Waterman, Brendan Lehman , Alex Work and Max Judelson. The rain was falling and the course was deteriorating rapidly. Much of the lap was now unrideable.
Max got to start in front with Brendan on row 3, Alex in row 8 and Kailin in row 22. That's right...there were 170 odd riders in this race. From the gun Max was in the lead and he held it for the first 3 laps - first by himself and then with Justin Robinson. The two looked to have an unassailable lead but gear troubles for Justin and some crashes for Max saw their lead shrink. Brendan raced up to about 15th but the mud was thick and the rim brake bikes got so heavy with mud that they became nearly unrideable. On the start line Alex got taken out in a crash. Brendan seeing Alex on the side of the course yelled: "I need your bike !". Alex ran to the pit and we began washing bikes for Brendan. Kailin came into the pit and said that he wanted his bike to be available for Max- now Alex and I were pitting for two riders. This really helped both Brendan and Max to finish- I really wish that we had extra bikes from the start as this could have had really helped both Max and Brendan to get better results. That said, there's no doubt that they both left everything on the course riding as hard as possible. This is what everyone on the team did- nobody held back.
Alex and Kailin donating the use of their bikes to Max and Brendan was an illustration of what makes this such a great team. When things get critical people on this team really step up. Max finished 6th and Brendan 30th.
 Sunday was the last day in the event and the rain had stopped. This would make the mud thicker and make the bikes clog faster- the work in the pit would get very intense , having to give the riders a fresh bike every half lap. This would prove difficult as the line for the bike washers would get long - some times a rider would come into the pit only to find that his replacement bike was not cleaned yet.
First to go off was the U-23 field with Noah Hayes . He nearly finished on the lead lap winding up 32nd. He was changing bikes every half lap, using my bike as his second.
 In the women's elite field it was all about Caroline Nolan who has been having a career season this year. With a second row starting position she had a fair chance at seeing the front of the race but the mud and a couple of mechanicals made the going rough. She was unstoppable, though- clearly not having a good time she still fought on the finish 20th, on the lead lap with most of the 46 women not making the cut. It was a gutsy ride.
The men's elite race was the final event of the week. The course had been re-routed to give the riders less deep mud and more turf to ride on but the bikes were still getting clogged with the thick peanut-butter like mud. With two riders in the field we were very busy in the pit. Max Judelson had a third row start but Brendan Lehman was near the back of the 46 man field. The mud, the craziness in the pit and the caliber of the leaders made it so that only 20 riders finished on the lead lap with only 10 more finishing a lap down. Max finished 32nd while Brendan finished 42nd. It was epic conditions and some of the most difficult racing conditions I have ever seen .

Nationals- first days , Louisville, Ky.

 This first December CX nationals in a few years would see a rotating cast of characters- there would be 6 days of racing so people came and went depending on when they would be racing. Three of us arrived on Monday late afternoon- upon landing we found out that the number pick up was at an airport hotel so before we even got to our rental house we went to pick up our numbers. Across the street was a bowling alley that advertised :" $1.00 bowling on Monday." - We would return.
 Eric Brown, Kathleen Bortolussi, Brendan Lehman and I went to the course next day to pre-ride. It was very cold in the morning and much of the ground was covered in frost. There was very little mud and nearly all of the course was rideable. This would change dramatically by the afternoon. Kathleen decided to do the non-championship race to get to know the course in advance of her Thursday age-group race. She wound up crashing many times as the course had gotten very slippery after the frost melted. This, too would change over the rest of the week in a very big way.
 Usually we have big team dinners at the nationals but with only four people there was more than enough food to go around- a customary pasta a la Amatriciana for the night before the first championship day. Eric, Brendan and I would race in age group races on Wednesday.
 Eric and Brendan would go first in the 30-34 age group- both of them got good starts with Brendan coming by the pits in 4th and Eric in the top-10. Brendan would have bad luck with a fall and a mechanical . He would have a 1/4 lap run and fade to next-to-last. He was able to pit and ride back up to 13th with Eric finishing 12th. It might not have been quite the result that either of them wanted but it was enough to get a good feel for the course .
Next up was my race and starting in the back of 69 riders really took the pressure off of me. I knew that I had nowhere to go but forward - I managed 54th after a coupe of falls. Eric and Brendan did stellar work for me in the pit- I wish I had taken more help than I did taking only one bike change. Even on Wednesday the bikes were really loading up with mud and grass. This would get worse as the week went on after Thursday.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Mid-late season report

 Winning is not everything but this team sure seems to be doing a lot of winning this season. 55+ mens rider Greg Foy has been nearly unstoppable in all the local and regional races, even winning day 2 of the west Sacramento gran prix. Pictured above is Ben Dodge winning the 35A race at our own Surf City / Team Rock Lobster race. Caroline Nolan is having her best season ever with many wins and UCI placings. Max Judelson is also showing the Nor-Cal scene how to take command of the front of a race.
 Kathleen Bortolussi has come back to racing with some of her best results since joining the team. Dylan Gong continues to win with a district title and many other victories. 14 year old Dan English beat all the men's B field at Coyote point- something I had not seen anyone that age do.

Mary Maroon also repeated as district single speed champion and won in Sacramento as well.
Ivy Young rode to a single speed victory at Coyote point.
 Other riders have been on the podium such as Nate Vahlberg in the juniors, Max McFadden racing elite at 16 years old and Noah Hayes getting 4th at the districts, just ahead of Brendan Lehman.
 With such a busy season and so many people on the team it is hard to keep track of all the great performances such as 17 year old Brian Kalcics 3rd in the B field at Coyote point. If our juniors continue enjoying racing CX there are great times ahead for bay area CX. With other junior programs taking shape there's a good chance that Nor-Cal will resemble Seattle or Portland for the amount of quality junior racers in the peloton. This is the future of cyclocross and it is great that this team is a substantial part of the new wave of racers . Let's hope that it keeps up.
 At this point there's only the nationals in Louisville, Kentucky left on the schedule of big races. We have some great riders coming to the event: Caroline Nolan, Max Judelson, Aaron Bradford, Alex Work, Kathleen Bortolussi, Dan English, Eric Brown, Kailin Waterman, Noah Hayes. There are some absences due to injury and other circumstances but even with those factors this is a very strong team with a lot of possibilities.

Monday, October 01, 2018

'Cross Reno

There's not much in the way of UCI racing on the west coast but there is 'Cross Reno- formerly 'Cross-Vegas, connected with the re-located Interbike trade show. The show is smaller and the fields at this C1 event were not large but the spectators were out in the thousands as the main events happened after dark under the lights.
 Earlier in the day we did have two junior girls that both made the podium. Kennedy Cortopassi won the junior 10-14 group and Ciara Wing got 2nd in the 15-18 race.
 We had two riders in the single speed race with Ian Stowe just missing the podium in 6th and Chris Seymour returning from his honeymoon finishing on the lead lap in 23rd.
 The women's elite field was world class with riders from Europe and Canada. Caroline Nolan rode to an impressive 8th place and well up in the UCI points. Campbell Steers overcame some pre-race tire issues to finish on the lead lap in 23rd.

The men's race was also filled with some of the best riders in the sport. Max Judelson made the top-20 finishing 19th with some strong riding late in the race. Under 23 rider Noah Hayes rode his first C1 event and came in 30th with Brendan Lehman 31st fighting an oncoming cold. Aaron Bradford having to work the trade show was probably not anywhere near his best but still rode to 39th . Dean Poshard broke a pedal in the first lap and was forced to withdraw. With 5 out of 7 of our elite riders finishing on the lead lap there was a reason to be happy , along with the junior podiums. Not bad for a small team from Nor-Cal.


On a clear morning at Manzanita park the conditions were just about perfect for a CX race. With a couple of other events happening that weekend there were bound to be some smaller fields and opportunities for riders at all levels to move up on the series. First as always were the juniors with some opting to race among the adults.

In the boy's 10-14 Henry Sanderson  was 3rd with 9 year old Kai Yee coming in 5th. Nate Vahlberg raced to 2nd in the boy's 15-18. Grace Kredo-Brown rode unopposed to the win in the girls 15-18 getting the first win of the day for the team.
13 year old Dan English decided to ride the open B category and came in 4th out of a large field of adults.
John Vahlberg was our only master's B rider and he rode to 16th on the 45B field, possibly the largest group of the day. The master's A race saw a few of our riders and once again, Greg Foy showed his dominance in the 55+ group with an emphatic win. In the 60+ race I came in 5th with Montana Resident Hal Stanley coming in 7th.

The next win would come from Kathleen Bortolussi with a storming ride that saw her passing many of the women starting ahead of her in the A,B and C groups.
Ivy Young got 3rd in the women's A race riding with her arm in a brace and sprained fingers.
 The men's A race was not much of a challenge for Max Judelson as he easily rode away from the field. The early action featured Alex Work who led the race for the first lap and nearly held on for second if not for a crash on a loose dirt section of one of the baseball diamonds. He still held onto 3rd. Eric Brown lost a brake pad right at the start and had to return to re-install it. Even with the delay he managed to work his way back up to 11th passing a few riders in the process.

The men's A team sporting the new 100% sponsor sunglasses and the 2018 Voler kits. Next stop, Sacramento !

Monday, September 24, 2018


This was a longer course than the previous week and most would say that it was tougher. Since this was the first race on the junior calendar the course had a huge turnout from our team.

In the 9:00 AM races the C men had Manny Offonso, jr. in 5th.
In the jr. boy's 15-18 race we had a mob:
Ethan Waterhouse took the win, Ethan Karp 2nd, Nate Vahlberg 3rd, Alaska Grant 7th and Pete Vahlberg 8th.
In the girl's 10-14 Genevieve Keefe got 3rd
In the girl's 15-18  Ella Phillips got the win
 In the 10:00 am B race we had no shortage of riders,
Dan English got 5th, Matt Miller got 11th, Charles Rausch 14th, Brian Kalcic 15th.
In the master's 45 B race we had John Vahlberg at 7th, Michael Schaller at 16th and Frank Kalcic at 17th.
Here's Hans Van Housen in the men's A race
As the day got longer the wind really started blowing and was a factor on the course.
In the 11:00 races we had four riders.
In the 35 A race Ben Dodge scored an impressive 4th
In the 45 A race Greg Foy rode to 11th riding a category younger.
In the 55 A race Detlef Adam rode to 8th
In the 60 A race I managed 7th
 Dodgeball in the men's A race

Dean Poshard after a flat and a bike change in the A race
 Alex Work making up time late in the A race
Eric Brown holding down 12th in the A race

Later in the day it was time for the women's events.
In the women's B race we had lanie Goldberg in 5th and Alexis de Zubria in 7th
In the women's 45+ race Kathleen Bortolussi got 4th
In the women's A race Sarah Jordan rode to 4th.

We had five riders in the men's A race even with some notable absences.
Alex Work led our team finishing 7th, Eric Brown followed at 12th, Hans Van Housen at 14th, Ben Dodge in his second race of the day came in 15th and Dean Poshard came in 17th.