The organizers are saving the Beach Run and the flat parts of the park for the finale, and so carved out a pretty brutal up-and-down sleigh ride that combined some off-camber loose stretches with lots of soul-sucking grass and a nasty little sandbox run.
As is often the case, I got there late, so I missed the debut of our newest member, Lina, who raced the women's Cs. She jumped right in to her first cross race, rocking last year's skinsuit and a borrowed bike.
I also missed the Superprestige debut of Sam Fletcher, who battled the bigger kids in the Junior 10-14 field, punching way above his weight for a respectable 6th.
Sam's got Skillz (by Lauren Haughey)
Cruisin' (by Lauren Haughey)
The Men's Cs was the biggest field ever at a Bay Area Superprestige race: Over 140 starters! Included in those 140 starters were Moonies Ted Ketai, Lee Slone, Derrick Chao and Mark Wheeler. Derrick and Lee had excellent races, finishing 32nd and 35th, respectively.
Ted started strong, only to run into trouble (more or less literally) with his lack of running training. This was a runner's course, with a set of barriers, one unridable runup, one long marginally ridable section that was often quicker to run, and the sandpit, which was ridable at the extremes, but for most of us mortals was much smarter to run. Still, Ted continued his gradual climb up the results, easily finishing in the top half.
Running is not Ted's strong point (by Veronika Lenzi)
This was, I think, Mark's first race of the year, and he's almost certainly the only one racing with a 6-speed bike*. Plus, he totally trumped my tired striped socks with his diamond tights.
(*Mark informs me that his derailleur doesn't quite reach one of the sprockets in back, so technically he's on a 5-speed)
I was the only one around to show the flowers for the Masters B race. Fortunately, they're calling up the top 20 in the masters field, and since I got 20th at the first race, I got the final callup slot. Despite my good start position, my race was pretty undistinguished. I clawed my way up to probably 10th or so in the first couple laps, only to slowly slide back to 16th as my lack of warmup took its toll, where I finished.
Mount or dismount? (by Steven Woo)
Still, last year at this time I would have been ecstatic with a 16th of 60-something placing, so hooray for progress.
Team Sponsor Brian Bruckner also raced the 35+ Bs, but he had the temerity to race in the colors of his bike shop, Big Swingin' Cycles, not the Moon pink, so we don't have any pictures of him putting in a really good result.
Oddly, we also only had one rider in the Master A race, Morgan Fletcher. Morgan moved up a category last year when he was training all the time, and has had trouble finding his legs in the Master A field. He had what I think was his best race of the year, though, staying solidly on the lead lap, and battling for position with several other folks.
Morgan battles (by Steven Woo)
Any concerns about lack of representation were very much put to bed by our showing in the women's race. As has been the case all year, we fielded a huge crowd of moonie women. Representing in the As were Liza Hartlaub and Carrie "Crusher" Edwards. Lauren Haughey flew the flowered flag in the 35+ class, and we brought five women to the Bs, including Caitlin Trahan (fresh off her win last week at Lion of Fairfax), Kathryn Aaker (fresh off the plane from New Zealand), Jenny Oh (fresh off her wedding last week), May Woo (just fresh), and Emily Mclanahan (I seem to have run out of fresh jokes). Somehow I ended up being the only one handing out water at the top of the climb to our riders, and was kept pretty busy.
Moonie women lined up for the start (by Matthew Blain)
Liza flat out crushed it. In her second A race, she made it into the top half of a stacked A field. Sometimes it's hard to believe that Liza's only in her second year of racing cross.
Liza (by Ted Ketai)
Carrie, in contrast, didn't have such a great race, cutting a tire and bowing out with a lap or two to go.
Carrie's race did not end well (by Steven Woo)
We also showed a range of results in the Bs, with Kathryn--who returned from a two-week trip to New Zealand the day before--overcoming a slow start to finish on the podium in fifth place.
Kathryn on the Podium (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
It would be a mistake to believe, though, that she pulled it together through sheer force of will. She had help. And it was tasty!
Mmm... tasty! (by Ted Ketai)
A quick midrace cider break perked her right up, and she overtook two other riders in the last quarter lap to grab her podium position.
Kathryn glides over the barriers (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
Caitlin, too, rode a good race, and although she didn't match her success of the week before, she cruised into the top 10, putting on a good show for her dad and sister (who were in attendance) by powering through the sand pit.
Caitlin powers through the sand pit (by Steven Woo)
Jenny is quickly gaining experience and confidence, and supplied the following report:
Today was a truly fun day of racing for me. With each race, I'm becoming more comfortable on dirt and I think this course suited me much more than McLaren and Surf City #1. I think I prefer a soft and loose course rather than a hard, bumpy and dusty one, so after pre-riding the course yesterday I actually felt more confident than I had in the past - which is a huge psychological boost! It's a great feeling to just focus on moving faster and not worrying about whether you're going to crash.
And so no crashes for me and I felt technically comfortable on the course. Lap 1 I felt energized, Lap 2 I was started to wear thin and by Lap 3 I was really feeling the burn. Laps 4 and 5 I started to recover and so this race was definitely a battle of fitness for me rather than the terrain. Hopefully with my training regimen I'll be able to get more oxygen into my system. :) But I'm inching my way up slowly and cracked the top 20!
I never thought I'd be running with my bike... (by Shawn Hatfield)
And I appreciate when the leaders / A's women are encouraging and ask us to move out of the way nicely, or cheer us on from behind. One racer said, "Go, go, go, you got it!" when I was negotiating the sketchy gravel section. Super cool. Than there are some women who are wenches and totally mean and practically knock you off the trail. Whatevs.
While I pretty much tune out the world around me and my facial expression looks like I'm giving birth on every lap, Team Beer Jon's comment made me laugh, "My life sucks now too!"
In addition to taking the lead on organizing the team infrastructure for the day, Emily had a decent race.
Emily (by Jon Suzuki)
May, unfortunately, did not have such a solid race, with a couple crashes and a mechanical. Her bad day didn't show on her face, though, as she fed her reputation as the cheeriest-looking racer around.
Even on a bad day, May's smiling (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
Another racer who did not have an ideal race was Lauren, who had a disappointing result in the 35+ women.
Lauren (by Jon Suzuki)
In the Elite men, in what was probably the Moonie performance of the day, Krishna Dole took advantage of a start position better than the last row he had last time, and cranked out a stunning 7th place finish.
Krishna uses his tires' grip (by Jon Suzuki)
As with Liza, it's always surprising to remember that Krishna, too, is only in his second year of racing cross.
Most of the team, at this point, had finished their racing and were deep into their
It's not hard enough! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
The final race of the day was the Men's Open B/Single Speed B race. As has been the case all year, we fielded quite a few folks in the Open Bs, and two of us in the Single Speed Bs. Before we raced this event, our teammates made a point of getting our hydration handup requests: water or beer? I opted for water, but reserved the right to change my mind should my race go badly.
Uri Friedman--often our B leader--flatted far from the pits, and spent half a lap working on his running fitness.
Uri (by May Woo)
Mike Hartlaub ran his spectacular crash streak to two races, ruining the grooming work Murphy and crew had done. Fortunately, it was caught on video. And even more fortunately, Mike was OK and managed to finish the race.
Jason Ferrier rode a solid race, finishing mid-pack, solidly on the lead lap, even finding time for a beer grab.
Off-screen beer grab (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
Ryan Henbest and Mat Davidson also followed what seems to be becoming a Moonie B Men tradition, by finishing one right after the other, with Mat, particularly, improving on his rough previous Superprestige race.
Run simultaneously with the B men is the Single Speed B race. The scoring snafus of the McLaren Park race blunted the news a little, but we started this race with 2 racers on the front row, Evan Sarna and myself. Evan was coming off a second place at McLaren park, as well as a win at the previous week's CCCX Single Speed B race at Toro Park.
Sasha gets a good start (by Jon Suzuki)
One minute after the open Bs, our whistle blew. I had a good start, ending up in second slot, with Evan grabbing fourth and snaking the inside line to end up third at the first turn. As we hit the grass chicanes at the top of the course, we ran across the tail end of the open B field. I failed to anticipate that the guy ahead of me would not ride one small rise, and didn't dismount in time. Evan took the opportunity to sneak into the lead, and didn't look back.
Evan (by Ted Ketai)
Now that my teammate was in the lead, I resolved to fight for every place. after the first lap or so, I started to feel the effects of my first race. Over the next few laps, three more guys got by me. The final guy to get by me was Denis, from Peninsula Velo. He never managed to get much gap, and by the second-to-last lap, I closed back to his wheel. For an entire half a lap I tried to figure out a way to go by him, but he did an excellent job of closing the door every time I tried to get by. As we hit the bell for the last lap, the effort started to tell on me, and he built a gap of 8 or 10 seconds back up. By the time we hit the sandpit on the last lap, I was pretty cooked. This time, when I passed the peanut gallery and they offered me a beer, I took it.
Why Yes, I will have some beer (by May Woo)
Furthermore, I took it in step.
Whether it was the magic of the beer or what, I do not know, but within a minute, I was right on the tail of my nemesis Denis again. This time, I was resolved not to be denied. At the last turn into the finishing stretch I dove underneath him and sprinted to beat him by a wheel.
It turned out, that much to my surprise I had just snatched away the final podium spot. Evan, meanwhile, had gone ahead and won the race.
Evan! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)
So we put two moonies on the podium!
Sasha and Evan on SSB podium! (by Kathryn Aaker)
Overall, it was another great day for the Moon Machine, highlighted by Liza and Krishna's great showings in the As, Evan's win in the SS Bs and some truly epic heckling.
Liza post race (by Jon Suzuki)
Krishna & Griffin (future cx krusher) (by May Woo)
Thanks to Friends of the Moon team Veronika Lenzi, Steven Woo, and Jon Suzuki for permission to use their photos.