Saturday, January 18, 2020

Nationals day 6


On this day the final and most watched races happened. First were the junior 17-18 men and we had Keegan Pelton and Enzo Sapojnikoff starting. They had callups in the back half of the field but definitely made the most of it , even with Enzo battling a cold on race day. Keegan got of to a fantastic start and made his way up to 32nd. Enzo had a second win and was only a couple of hundred feet behind Keegan at the end finishing in 37th.
Perhaps the most anticipated race for the team was the elite women. We only had one entrant in Caroline Nolan but she had been having her best ever season so everyone was thinking that she might be able to do a career ride that day. Anything can happen in the nationals and hopes can be dashed at any time- Caroline flatted early in the race but skillfully rode the soft tire to the pit and then put on a real show, passing some of the best racers in the US to finish 8th , a best ever showing for her or any elite racer on this team in its history. 
In the elite men we had Nathan Barton, a first timer at the elite nationals. He had to start back in 41st position but moved up quickly. At one point another racer knocked him off his bike and his crash was pretty violent. He would have a hard time getting his bike back and would lose a lot of time. After getting rolling again he began passing people and was riding very strong and only missed finishing on the lead lap by a handful of seconds. He finished 34th and showed that with a bit more luck he would figure in with the best in the country. Dean Poshard got about 13 min into his race and reportedly got kicked in the face by another rider. He did get credited for finishing 52nd.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nationals day 5

 The fifth day was Saturday- a really busy one with most of the juniors riding in the morning and the single speeds at the end of the day. First up were the 11-12 year olds and Remy Schmidt slid and slided his way to 11 place. In the 13-14 group Sterling Woodson toughed it out to finish 62nd in a huge field. In the 15-16 age group Dan English passed a good number of riders to finish in 8th while Nate Vahlberg did very much the same riding from very far back to finish 37th.
 Somebody found some team color donuts. I didn't have one but supposedly they were very tasty. It was nice to have a bit of a break before the last two races of the day- they would be hectic as the single speed fields are usually the largest of the whole week.
 This photo of Hannah Dillard was how she looked every time she rode by in the women's single speed race. Nice to know that even in an event as difficult as this one that someone can be having the time of their life. She would finish 12th.
 In the men's single speed race we had a mob, even with several of out team unable to make the trip. Aaron Bradford, Eric Brown, Brendan Lehman , Kyle Taylor and Fred Mills were our five entries in the race so every minute or two you would see a lobster rider . It was a very entertaining race as more than 150 riders were on the course. Aaron Bradford had to start near the back but moved up quickly to finish 7th. Brendan Lehman had a mechanical during the race that cost him a lot of time-seems that none of us were in the pit for the single speed race- a major oversight but he still finished 32nd. Fred Mills having been off the bike for nearly a month still did well finishing 46th. Kyle Taylor rode strong from pretty far back in the field to finish 69th. Bad luck hit Eric Brown as a mechanical took him out of the race about a lap and a half in.




Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Nationals day 4

Friday was the master's women day with some bitter cold temperatures and sporadic rain showers. It was cold enough that standing around in the pit or at course side was not pleasant. At least when you were riding there was a way to stay warmer.  In the morning Kathleen Bortolussi lined up on the front row of the 55-59 age group. The night before she had come down with a sore throat but was determined to try to ride through it . There was no doubt that she would be miserable out on the course but still pulled through to finish 7th.
 Kristi Vahlberg has barely ridden any CX races so lining up at the nationals was a huge step. Limited experience notwithstanding , she rode from the very back to finish on the lead lap in 25th in the 50-54 age group- a great first try at racing at that level.
Sarah Jordan has extensive experience at racing at the national level. She has not done a lot of competing in the last couple of years but still lined up to race on this very challenging course. Her skills kept her in the race and she finished 17th in the 45-49 age group.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Nationals day 3

 Some of us decided to take a day off from the race while sole team representative John Vahlberg slogged away in the mud to take 74th in the men's 50-54 division. Our goal was to see a bicycle museum about an hour and a half drive north on Bainbridge island.
 The day would be rainy so it was nice to not be spending the whole day standing in the wet weather at the course. The drive was uneventful and we were looking forward to seeing this legendary collection of old bicycle memorabilia.
 We were greeted with this sign- closed for the day !  Seems that the owners of the museum were at the race......we literally passed each other on the road at some point that morning .

Nevertheless we did get to look in the windows and get a hint of what was inside. No doubt the collection is extensive and spans well over 100 years of bicycle history. Sadly, this was our only day that we could spare to do a non-race related excursion so viewing the collection will have to wait for another trip.

 We wound up getting beers or hot chocolates, depending on who you were. There was an excellent market there so we stocked up on supplies so that we could make another big team dinner- Linguini Carbonara.....a team tradition going back a number of years.
One thing about cold weather-it makes one hungry and a meal like this at the end of the day is really a good thing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Nationals day 2

 Wednesday at the course the rain held off until later in the morning. This meant that the first two races would be pretty dry. Starting in the bitter cold at 8:30 AM were the women's 30-34 group containing Hannah Dillard in her first full season of CX. She would finish a credible 8th place. Next up were the men in the same 30-34 age group. Brendan Lehman cracked the top-10 finishing 9th and Eric Brown got a top-20 at 19th . Later at 10:30 the men's 65-69 race got started in the drizzle and the course got slippery. I managed to finish a surprising 15th .
 in the afternoon the men's 35-39 group started on a much wetter and slick track. This suited Aaron Bradford as he rode from the back to finish 16th.

 The night after the first championship day was a good one for a big team meal of pasta , salad and garlic bread. With a house full of hungry racers and others two full batches were cooked . So far, the start of this nationals week was looking good. The course was very challenging and fun at the same time. The dark skies, low temperatures and frequent showers made for classic Pacific Northwest CX conditions. We in California rarely get to ride in mud like the stuff we were seeing in Lakewood.
Although different than what conditions were for most of the season, we were experiencing what it is all about- the mud.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019 nationals day 1

We had a treat this season- a nationals you could drive to, as long as you didn't mind the 800+ mile marathon. Our first stop was the family home of Aaron Bradford. Aaron and his dad made sure that we were comfortable and well fed on the first night in Tacoma.

The next morning we were down at the course. While most of us would just be checking out the course on foot and doing a few pre-race laps there were some who opted to race in the 'non-championship' events on Tuesday. Although risky, the races were a good way to check out the course conditions on that day. The conditions would be changing quite a bit from day to day. Tuesday's relatively dry and tacky course would give way to Wednesday's rain and the softening of the muddy stretches in the area surrounding the pit.
 Sarah Jordan, Kristy Vahlberg, Kathleen Bortolussi and John Vahlberg did the non-championship races on Tuesday. There would be more later in the week.
 It would not be until the next day that official championship racing would begin for the team. The cloudy skies and nearly constant rain of the following days coupled with low temperatures would make conditions for a classic edition of the cyclocross nationals.
The Lakewood, Wa. Stielacoom park course has been used on many occasions for CX racing and its most notable features are the steep and choppy run-ups, probably some of the toughest in USA cyclocross. These long runs would prove to be testing to every person on a bike the whole week.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

CX nation mud fest

 The races were behind schedule , the results were a mess and some of the races were cut short. That said, it was about as good as it gets in terms of CX racing as it should be. The rain came down all day and the mud was deep and plentiful. We had a pretty good number of riders there and some decent results. Getting them all sorted out might happen some day but here's what I know for sure: Hannah Dillard got 2nd in the women's elite, Brendan Lehman got 6th in the men's elite, Kathleen Bortolussi got the win and Sarah Jordan got 2nd in the women's masters 45+. Eric Brown , many juniors , Kailin Waterman and others were there-not sure where they finished but I think that Kailin might have won the single speed A race.
 All the bikes got pretty trashed and the mud might never fully wash out of the kits but it was all worth the long drive to Sonoma for this, the first real mud of the season. Now it is off to Lakewood, Wa. for the nationals and more mud- maybe not as deep as the Sonoma mud but it should be wet and slippery. Just about everyone who was at the CX Nation cup will be going to the nationals.
 I would like to thank Brian Staby and CX Nation for putting on this event as I know that it must have been a really difficult day with the weather and the timing glitches. If you came to get re-aquainted with the mud, you got your wish last Sunday.