Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 Year in review - Part 2: Cyclocross!

[Part 1 of the Year in Review is here]

This year's cyclocross season was a big step forward for the Sheila Moon team. We raised our stats to a whole new level: more podiums, more races won, more sausages barbequed and more beer served than last year.

The season started early, with the Livermore series kicking off at the beginning of September. The Sheila Moon women were sprinkled all over the podiums, from Emily's fourth at the season opener to Arena's medal in her very first race. More importantly, however, three of our teammates raced their very first cross race, and they all were excited to come back for more.

We next provided the labor for the Lion of Fairfax race, sponsored by team sponsor Big Swingin' Cycles' and organized by main man Brian Bruckner. As usual, the race made a dollar's worth of cross racing out of 75 cents of available area.

Kathryn halfway up the run up of Doooooooooom

The season got into full swing with the kickoff of the Bay Area Superprestige Series at McLaren Park. The McLaren course really divides people. It's possibly the hardest course we race on, with a long brutal run up and some sketchy downhill parts. Every year, there's muttering that it's really a mountain bike course, and every year, someone on a cross bike wins every category.

Jason makes quick work of the barriers in his first cross race

I love the course. It's hard, sketchy in parts, and rewards climbing and bike handling more than most of the other courses we race on. The first half of the cross season was pretty much a non-starter for me this year, but this race was huge fun. My geared bike was in the shop, so I rode my single speed in the geared category. This course is pretty great for single speeds--as long as you gear low enough that you can get up the hills, there's no real long power stretch where geared riders can just ride away.

These guys were content to stay behind me

I think we had our highest number of racers this year, putting something like 12 people on the course in one category or another.

Arena cruises through the infield

Several themes that would run through the season started this race, for better or worse. On the downside, Ted's bike stopped shifting halfway through the race. Mechanicals would haunt Ted (and the team) for the early part of the season. He managed to finish anyway, however.

Ted on the starting line, unaware that his bike was going to let him down

On the upside, Kathryn got 5th, merely the first of the Super Prestige Series podiums she would make.

Kathryn laughing it up on the start line

The second big race of the year was the Surf City Halloween race. This race is a tremendous event every year, and I was sorry to miss it. One of the best parts of this race every year is the costume race, and although she was not able to race it (due to a tragic water-bottle-handup injury), Kathryn represented big-time anyway.

Kathryn the angry bee

Next up was the Candlestick Park Super Prestige race. For the first year ever, it rained before this race, and it helped tamp down all the dust, making this the fastest Candlestick race on record. I missed this one, too, but we fielded a big team, and more importantly, a welcoming team tent for riders in need of a little socializing.

We had 5 riders in the Men's Bs

Ted raced Bs on the day

Derrick finds that although there's not much climbing, what there is is hard

Davin finds the same thing

Jason hauled his cross bike to the race on his Big Dummy

Ryan also raced, but I couldn't dig up a picture.

We did get two racers on the same podium, as Kathryn and Arena got 4th and 5th in Women's Bs

Kathryn and Arena represent for the team

The next weekend, a few of us went to Portland for the single speed cyclocross world championships, where I got beaten by a guy in a Spiderman costume.

The Pilarcitos series continued with their first ever night race, at Sierra Point. For us, the most notable part of this race was the debut of our awesome new skinsuits.

Davin and Dave show off our new kit

For me, at least, the season took a grim turn at our next race, Central Coast Cyclocross at Manzanita Park in Prunedale. I managed to crash (for no particular reason, as far as anyone could tell) headfirst into a fencepost, knocking myself out and necessitating a helicopter ride to the hospital. It ended up not being anything lingering, but it was scary (and expensive) for me, and caused a brief flurry of concern in the local cross community. Some other stuff probably happened at that race, but you'll have to ask someone else.

Because of that crash, I ended up on the sidelines for the following race, Bay Area Superprestige #4 at Golden Gate Park. The Golden Gate Park race is a highlight every year. The course is fun, the crowds are big and rowdy, there are a lot of racers, and the event is really fun in general.

Jeremy muscles through
Jeremy muscles his single speed up a hill

Kathryn leads into the corner
Kathryn got 3rd in Women's B

Davin VII
Davin clears the barriers

One highlight of this race was Arena discovering she has a talent for dollar grabs. Here she displays her haul.

Arena with her haul
Arena proves you don't have to be a pro to grab a little cash

The following week was the finale of the Superprestige series. Coyote Point is another one of my favorite courses, with lots of climbing and the infamous beach run.

I had a mediocre race here this year. You could read about it in my report, were you to really care.

Since this was the series finale, they awarded the series winners and podiums. Our very own Kathryn Aaker took 4th in women's Bs, despite missing a race.

B! podium
Kathryn on the podium

This race also marked the debut of the mighty Sam Bell, who rode the first race in her very short women's C career.

The last Superprestige race traditionally marks the end of the Bay Area cross racing season. Over the last couple years, however, new series like the Livermore LARPD and Santa Rosa races have joined the Peak Season races in Santa Cruz county as late season fixes for those of us who cannot get enough cross racing.

In Livermore on December 13th, Kathryn won her first race ever in women's Bs.

The last week of the year in Livermore, I got my first podium of the year, and the next day, Sam Bell won women's Cs in Santa Cruz, with Emily McLanahan closing out 2008 with a second in Masters women.

Overall, it was a great year for us! Next year should be even better.


Jason said...

My "first race" was my first race in California. I do miss the east coast conditions of snow / severe mud / cold. Well, my knees don't miss the cold.

sasha said...

Your first cross race, anyway, right?

We should talk about knee stuff--I've had one knee rebuilt, and have some tips for keeping them in working order.