I was a little hesitant to do this race, because I really didn’t feel like driving around LA again up to Chino. But being this is the first race in a new series, Spyclocross, I figured it was worth checking out. Driving into the park looking at the course, I thought ‘ohh great another flat socal cross course’. But the course was designed well, and had good speed and flow, with a lot of faster cornering and some straightaways, and most importantly a nice long straight for the start.
You only got a call up if you pre-registered, which I tried doing Friday at 9:05 before online reg. closed, at 10. But it turns out it closed at 10 MOUNTAIN time, so that wasn’t happening. The race started on time, which is the second positive thing for a new series (the first being a decent course). I was on the third row, along with all the other non-prereg racers, out of about 5 rows. I was stoked at how many guys were there racing, this is one of the biggest fields Ive seen for a southern California cross race!
A pretty good hole opened up right in front of me after the whistle blew and I was able to make it into the top 5 by the first turn (thank you again for having a proper starting straightaway). That turn was completely blown by the newer elite racer Ryan Dahl who had taken the whole shot, and allowed for some more position changes. I ended up 2nd or 3rd in the group, along with all the other top local guys who were able to make it through the traffic.
The course was flat and fast, without many features for people to make mistakes on, so a large group of 8-10 rider were together for the first two laps. I was content sitting in the top 5 while we burned some time, Chris Jackson set a good pace at the front, and I was hoping we would just start shedding ridders as I don’t like being in that large of a group. There were some lead changes and jostling for position going on but everyone was riding solid.
Near the end of the third lap I wanted to test the water a little, and maybe narrow down our group some, so I put in a little acceleration to see what would happen. No one came with me and immediately I had a small gap. Just as we were about to make the u-turn back onto the pavement the group had bridged, I got slightly disoriented and tried to make my turn 10 feet too early, into the tape! Ahhahaha, I quickly caught back onto 6th wheel and sat in for another lap, making sure to make a joke about it with Brandon on the next lap, letting him know that he shouldn’t turn yet, and he replied ‘Yeah, third tree’ haha.
I had worked my way up to second wheel, behind Jackson on the 5th lap. Still not liking the group, I passed him in the turn right before the stairs and hit it hard. I was pretty sure I was faster up the stairs than most, and it was really bumpy at the top for the remount so easy for someone to make a mistake if they are flustered. Sure enough shortly after, Chris informed me that we had a gap on the group. Wanting to play a little of their own tactics back to the Gritters I would be happy to work with Chris to establish a good gap, so I just stayed on the gas as long as I could.
By the time we hit the long finish straight Chris had dropped back to the group and I had some time on the rest of the field. Not wanting to see how it would play out if we were all a group I decided to go at it alone and kept the throttle down for the next lap. I was hoping they wouldn’t get too organized for a chase, and not be too worried about me being off the front barely halfway through the race.
I still had a gap after the 6th lap but Brandon had gone and was trying to bridge. I was recovering, as much as I could, from my effort and he got within 8 seconds or so. I kinda thought that if he caught me we might go back to the group, since we would both be pretty exhausted from our efforts, and probably not want to work together. I liked riding by myself and choosing my own lines so I accelerated again on the next lap, hoping to at least keep the small lead, or put more time into Brandon.
It worked and I was able to get back up to a 20 second lead, (thanks to Eric Johnson for the accurate time reads 😉 and was able to ride the last lap at tempo instead of all out. I was super stoked as this was my first every CX win, and against a solid field (note: missing Gareth). The awards were accurate and completed within a timely manner, another win for the new series. Im really stoked that someone else is stepping it up as a race organizer for cross in socal, this was one of the best races yet, with a good vibe and great prizes, I will definitely be back and I hope this series grows over the years.