Santa Cross

Game face at Santa Cross

Its pretty tough to get motivated to drive up and into the beast that is LA traffic, its a total crap shoot and you just never know what you are going to get.  There were two races this past weekend, both at Griffith park in north west LA.  Not knowing much about LA I was prepared to bring a gun for security purposes, another park in LA riding around in spandex, seriously?  Turns out though that Griffith park is very beautiful and in a pretty cool setting.  It was definitely a surprise and way nicer than I imagined, I even got to see the Hollywood sign for the first time.

Chasing the beard

The course for Saturday was pretty fun, albeit a little short.  It had a decently long climb right after the start/finish then went into the woods a couple times for some fun and fast, slightly technical riding.  I had plenty of time to warm-up and cheer on some other racers.  After getting warmed up, I heard last call to staging so I headed over to the start, figuring that would probably be a good idea.  I got there and everyone had already taken the entire front row, all 10 lanes.  I was a little perplexed not knowing if they had already done call-ups or not, as most of the people on the front probably didn’t belong there.  The race official finally made his way down got everyone that earned a call-up up there, and I ended taking a second row spot right behind B. Gritters.

I had a pretty decent start and was sitting fourth at the top of the climb, with Gritters in the lead.  By the time we got to the twisty technical section he was starting to gap off the two riders in front of me, I knew I needed to get around them.  They weren’t budging to my request through the turns, so I had to wait until we got to the sandpit and run by them to make my pass.  I was now about 5 seconds back from the leader and worked hard the rest of the lap to bridge up to him.

By the second or so lap Brandon and I had a little gap on third place Eric Bostrom.  We pretty much worked together the next 8 laps to try to get as big of a gap as possible, which is always good in case you need to pit or have a mechanical.  On about the 8th lap I had a little problem getting into my pedals after a muddy run-up after the barriers.  I had been clipping in immediately after the barriers but for some reason I decided I wanted to run to the top of the hill on this lap, which caused my cleats to clog up.  It gave Brandon a small 3 second or so gap, and he drilled it up the climb, as did I trying to get back on his wheel.  I managed to catch him before the end of the 9th lap but didnt get much recovery before climbing the hill again after the start/finish.  Gritters put down a solid attack at the start of the climb on the 10th lap and managed to put a good 5 or more seconds on me.

He maintained his lead and went on to win and I hung onto second about 8 seconds behind Gritters.  Jason Siegle managed to catch Eric Bostrom for third, and Gareth Fieldstein rode strong for top 5.  It was a fun day of racing to celebrate my 31st birthday.

Good times!

The race on Sunday was the toughest field that I have probably raced against this entire year (not including the UCI races)  The line up consisted of Brandon and Kyle Gritters, Eric and Ben Bostrom, Chris Jackson, Jason Siegle, Garteh Feldstein, and local cross guru Brent Prenzlow.  Having tired legs, and not much sleep from the day before I figured finishing in front of any of those guys would be good.

The course had been modified from the day before, adding in some more fun twisty climby sections, which was great, anything to not have to do 12 laps again!  I had a super crappy start when the whistle blew and was sitting back in 8th or so at the top of the climb.  I managed to get around a few people by the end of the first lap, but was still in 5th or 6th.  I could see the race starting to unfold in front of me and was frustrated by the traffic I was in and my current positioning.  I put my head down and gained another spot or two up into fourth.  By this time Chris Jackson and B. Gritters had already opened a gap on the rest of the field.

Getting chased by Prenzlow

About ten minutes into the race it started raining pretty good making for some super fun cross conditions.  I rode in fourth place behind Ben Bostrom for pretty much the entire race.  I took a good chunk of time out between us with two to go, but he managed to ride the last lap super strong and finish with a solid third place.

Always a lot of shit talking and fun on the podium!

The course was a blast especially with the rain.  I was able to put down the fastest lap time of the day, which bummed me out about my start as I know I could have been up there with the leaders.  Still pretty happy with fourth in that field, especially with tired legs.  It was nice to have Ellen and Jacki out there cheering me on too, in the rain and all!  There was also a mini “Santa Series” for the two days of racing which I managed to take second overall behind Brandon, and in front of Gareth, was glad I came up for the second day!

There are only a few more races left in the CX season (just as I start to get it down and my bikes dialed!) so I guess its time to start thinking about racing mountain bikes again, and maybe a few road races this year.

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