Thursday, November 20, 2014

Close to home, Surf City CX #2

         This weekend's race was Surf City CX #2, about 16 miles up Empire Grade from Santa Cruz at a Cal fire training area. The course last year was clockwise and really dusty, going through a few inches of loose dirt for much of the lap. Yet this year the course was race counterclockwise, and with a little recent rain made for a great fun course.

          Off the start/finish gravel straight was a tight left almost looping back onto straight before a quick right leading across a field. After crossing the field a right turn preceding 4 barriers were waiting, before the course crossed the field a second time. Coming off the field for the second time was a hard left onto a high speed fire road following the outside of the field passing by the barriers into a spiral of death, winding and getting tighter towards the middle before unraveling. After coming out of the spiral of death the course dropped into the woods where; loose dirt, rocks, and a quick descent and moderate climb out towards a run up with a tree branch in it. After the run up coming out of the trees  was a quick pedal into a short off camber section that quickly descended  while wrapping left around tress dropping onto a gravel road. After about 100 yards the gravel road turned left and the course turned left up an embankment, wrapping back towards the gravel road descending slightly. The next few sections the course would go up the embankment, quickly back down make a 180 right turn, stay straight for around 75 yards, make a second 180 right turn, a left and lead back up the embankment. After making it up the course looped towards the right around a bumpy field on the embankment, before turning left around training building and back onto the gravel road. The last section of the course would follow the gravel road towards a second training building, up on a concert pad, loop around the building, back on to gravel and a left turn back to the start/finish straight.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Start of Surf City #2 Mens B race
       After placing 6th at Surf City CX #1, I received a front row call up along with; Ibis Buy Cell's little Ben Gomez-villafane, Family Cycle's Rob Martone, and Fresh Air Hunter's Garrett Kautz. On the whistle Ben and a second junior, Aidan Malmberg, would sprint off leaving Lee Slone, Rob, Garrett and myself to chase them down. Aidan would get the hole shoot, followed closely by Ben, then Garrett, myself and Lee

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Coming out of the first turn, Lee on my wheel, and myself on Ben's
          Ben would quickly pass Aidan right before passing the barriers going towards the spiral of death. Four of us; Ben, Adian, Lee and myself would stay together until just after the run up when Ben took the right side over the tree and had a cleaner run which allowed him to remount faster to start and build a gap. I would pass Aidan for second just after we remounted, I believe Lee would do the same or closely there after. As we crossed the line for the first lap Ben would be in first (put down the fast lap of the race from a standing start no less of 6:48) already 14 seconds ahead of me in second, Lee just 2 seconds back from me in third, Aidan 7 seconds from Lee, Garrett rounding off the top 5 just 2 seconds from Aidan, but with a few others close behind.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Lee taking over second place on the second la, Joshua close behind me for forth
         Midway through the second lap, just after the run up Lee would take over second place. I would stay on his wheel, with Joshusa Pizzica and Jarret St. Anbin close behind, until the short turning descent after the off camber section. Coming out of the turn I would stuff my front wheel into some loose dirt, have my bike come to a top and dismount over the bars, while holding the bike still. Josh would be held up behind me while Jarret was just far enough back to be able to take the inside and avoid us. I sprint down the gravel road to stay with Jarret taking too much speed on the inside of the gravel left at the other end of the straight, nearly low siding into Jarret as I two wheel drifted the corner dapping my left foot 4 or 5 times as I almost was dragging my bars on the ground before catching and getting back up right. Jarret would lead me out until the start/finish when I would retake third place. Josh would follow me past Jarret, as the three of us chased Lee down passing him I believe between the barriers and the woods.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          I would lead the chase group for rest of the third lap, and most of the forth before Josh passed me after the gravel road between going down and back up the embankment. But i would only follow him until concert pad where he would bobble and have to go wide leaving the faster inside line open. For the bell lap Ben was too far out to try and catch so I focused on making sure i could keep second. After losing to Josh at Toro park in a CCCX race I knew he was faster than me, I used being ahead, and the tightness of the course to my advantage. When we approached a spot I knew he could not pass in, I would shift down and brake causing him to almost stop in too hard of a gear while I could sprint ahead, then sprinting the small hill and the flats as hard as possible. 

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Barely out sprinting Josh Pizzica for 2nd
         As we approached the concert pad he was right on my wheel, but I would take the remaining corners as close to the tape as possible to make them as straight as possible and the last corner focused on taking the line with the least gravel so I could get one the pedals first and give it one last had attack, finish just 1.5 seconds in front of Josh. Jarret would follow 30 secounds back, Lee 10 behind him for 5th and Garret Kautz another 7 back from Lee for 6th. 

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Surf City #2, Mens B podium

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Ben Gomez-Villafane taking the win, 20 seconds up.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Double SIerra Point Weekend, Double Podium

         This weekend was a double weekend at the Brisbane Marina on Sierra Point, races #2, and #3 for BASP. Saturday was a late start for racing with my race, Mens Bs racing at 4:00 pm and the Elite race not starting until 8:00 pm, on a  counterclockwise course, while Sunday was a normal schedule with the Elites  racing at 1:00 pm and Mens Bs finishing off the day at 2:10 pm on a clockwise course.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
First mud pit of the year
         The two day's course were very similar; with four pavement sprints, two sets of barriers with one set before short steepish climb, a set a steps heading up what they call the "table top area," tight bumpy turns, and a mud pit at the start of the lap on Saturday and the end of the lap on Sunday. Even though Sunday was basically Saturday's course in reverse there were some differences; on Saturday after coming off the "table top" there was a bridge before a few turns leading to the second set of barriers(first set on Sunday) near the Marin Bikes pit before a sand trap, the bridge was omitted on Sunday, the other major change was the location of the first set of barriers on Saturday (second set on Sunday), they would be put on the other side of the flat u-turn, so both days you would come out of the turn before heading to the barriers.
Photo By: Mark Seymour

         The race Saturday was a large fields, 73 racers, and for me started with a pleasant surprise, of after finishing 42nd at BASP #1, enough people ahead of me weren't here allowing me to snag the last call up on the right side of row three, about 20th in the large field.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Staging for BASP #2 Mens B
          At the whistle the guy right ahead of had a good start so I would did not get bogged down, see the above video link, Brian started just to my right. I would hit the first turn right around 15th and take the far right line through the mud before making the turns to the pavement where I made a a few quick burst to get up to 5th behind Chris Neher going into the first little off camber uphill. Chris let me pass and chase down the leader as we made it to a flat fast long dirt turn. From there I would pick off most the remaining racers ahead of me to get into 2nd place entering the pavement at the end of the first lap.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          Going on to the pavement after the mud I would pass the last guy for the lead, and start to build a gap, riding relatively by myself for the next few laps when I would start to make small mistakes; taking a different line through the mud, grabbing a dollar hand out going into to the bridge and not being able to remount on the top, these and a few other small mistakes allowed Richard Reffner to catch up and take the lead with two to go.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Battling with Richard Reffner
         I would battle with Richard for the last two laps, and watch little Ben Gomez Villafane, who started on the 6th row, make a hard attack where the course past close to previous spots. Richard and I stayed close with him having a slight lead going barriers before the "table top" area. As we made it to the two steps I dismounted and pinched him into the tape as he tried to ride the steps. From there I would use all I had left, through the bridge, and last two barriers to the finish to take the win by 4 seconds, slowing just enough not to lap Scott Lappe.
Photo By: Mark Seymour

Photo By: Mark Seymour
BASP #2 Mens B podium
         After winning the day before, I would have the number one call up, little Ben the third, and Eric Stocker the forth. I would take the far left spot, which if I had a good start would of set me up nicely for the first right hand turn over the curb.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Start of BASP #3
         I would go over the curb around 12th, but would go wide and pass 5 people up to around 7th on outside before falling in line going into the sand box. Ben Gomez-Villafane would already be out of the sand and hopping the barriers before I i got through the sand. For first lap I would ride in traffic; going up the relocated two steps someone would try and fail to ride them causing a bottle neck, later in the lap on one of the short but loose climbs two guys on mountain bikes would come together and both crash causing a second pile up.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Riding behind Chris Neher on lap two

         These pile ups would cause me to enter the second lap around 5th. On this lap I was still in traffic, but no one crashed or had issues with any of the climbs and I slowly made my way up to second by mid lap. The rest of the race was spent riding at the front of a three person chase group, trying to remain smooth, and erase a 25 second gap Ben had formed. With three to go I would miss the frame as I tried to grab my bike while running a set of barriers. Causing me to hit the barrier with my back wheel shooting the bike into the air and making me come to a stop to get my bike under control.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Leading the chase group of Myself, Miles Stepto, and Eric Stocker
         The three of us in the chase group would battle and switch spots over the last three lap. I would lead going into two to go, but Miles saw a few openings and would take the lead going into bell lap, with me on his wheel and Eric on my own. After we passed the first set of barriers I attacked hard going into the "table top" and would take over second place and hold it until the end of the three pavement straights. I would take too much speed exiting the pavement and go wide into the turn allowing Eric to pass on the inside. After he passed, I again took too much speed into a turn this time the right hander with woodchips and would have to unclip to stay on two wheel before the mud pit. I couldn't get my cleat to clip back in until just after the mud pit, allow as Eric build a just enough of a gap as turned over the curb on to the last pavement sprint to hold onto second place, leaving me in third, not what I wanted but a second podium for the weekend.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
BASP #3 Podium

          Next week I stay local and head up to the Cal Fire training ground on Empire Grade for Surf City CX  #2.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wildcat beating, Dropped Chain

         This past weekend's race was SuperPro Racing's NCCX #3, Stafford Lake Wildcat, in Navato, the location of a new bike park currently under construction.

Photo From:
Stafford Lake Bike Park trails started
         The weather was just about perfect for the Men's B race with the series late start time of 3:00 pm, and the course was fast, bumpy, and dry after a storm two days before. From the start was gravel fire road leading to a left over a bridge and a hard right followed by a short straight to get speed for a steep hill/stairs. The course winded down the hill from the top of the stairs via a few off camber straight sections, small quick punches up and with sharp descents, and a hard off camber fading left leading into a quick fading right around a disc golf tie slab. After the descent the course would pick up speed down a "smooth" fire road into a hard headwind, before heading towards the lake and long, fast, but extremely bumpy back stretch, including a barrier to slow the field. Shortly after the first barrier was a tight right left chicane leading to the final fast section starting with a short stint on pavement, before heading onto dirt, over a few roots, over two barriers and a "Belgium farm wall" before the lap marker, and another bumpy section and the start line.

Photo By: Samantha Smallwood
Chris Seymour hopping over the "Belgium farm wall"
         I was on my way to staging when they were just finishing call ups, missed my call up, but the field allowed me to head up to the front row to take my spot. A good starting spot was needed with the hard climb so close to the start, and not wanting to be in the back of the pack for it.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Eric Stocker leading out the Mens Open B race.

         I slotted in 4th at the start charging down the fire road, would take the left side and push hard for the whole shot, but Eric Stocker would narrowly take the whole shot, and lead the field up the hill with myself in second. I had practiced the hill in warm ups trying to find the speed and gear combination to make it up, but on the first lap I would not make it and have to run up the last 10 feet, not loosing much time on Eric, and slightly holding up the field behind me.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Bryan Cheung and Chris Seymour practicing the hill
         After making it to the top of the hill I quickly caught Eric and held his wheel until we made it to the fire road. With a quick burst I would pass him and start putting an effort into the headwind, Eric Stocker would hold my wheel for the rest of the first lap, where we were had made a 20 second gap on the strong single speed racer (on a geared bike this week), Bryan Cheung.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Eric Stocker bonking in the back ground
         After staying with me for the first lap and both of us making the hill on the second, Eric Stocker started to bonk after the descent allowing me to build my lead substantially going into the third lap, around 30 second at the top of the hill on the third lap. Shortly after making it up the hill I had a mechanical issue, my chain dropping on the outside of the cranks like at Ft. Ord earlier in the season. I would have to get off and yank/pull it free which erased my lead, bring it down to around 5 seconds. For the next few lap Dave Mongan, and Lee Slone would be close on me, I would have just enough left in the tank to hold off attacked between the high speed barrier pavement for two laps, before the bell lap. 
Photo By: Mark Seymour
         Going into the bell lap Lee (on a mtb bike) had passed Dave, and was charging hard, so after cross the farm wall I attacked as hard as I could to build a gap knowing if i could making it down the descent first I had a good chance at holding him off on the pedaling sections all the way to the finish. Charging hard on the hill making it for the 4th of 6 times in the race allowed me to focus on keeping my chain on and two wheels underneath me for the descent. I made it down first. But, Lee was clos e on to my wheel and would attack on the long stretch toward the barrier, I believe getting with in a second or two. Countering his attack, I would take to much speed into the chicane taking out a little tape before turning onto the pavement and giving it all I had after just under 45 minutes. As I came off the pavement and crossed the roots, my chain would bounce off to the inside. I tried, but could not get it back on causing me to have to run about 20 yards before hopping over farm wall, and running towards the finish, and remounting with a dropped chain to roll across the finish, taking the win. 
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Mens Open B Podium
Lee Slone, Chris Seymour, Dave Morgan
         This would be my 4th win of the season, and first of the NCCX series, putting me in the lead of the NCCX point after 3/5 races , with 111 point only 4 points ahead of Superpro Racing's own Aaron Spinddell

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