Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Santa Cruz County Mud Fest: 2014

Photo By: Brain Vernor
Elite Men, Tobin Ortenblad followed by Andy Jacques- Mayens

          This weekend's race was Surf City #3, the series finals, at one of northern California's best cyclocross venues, the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. This race was the first true mud race of the year for us in northern California, it rained hard the day before and during some othe races on Sunday, including my own Mens B race. The course was also the best yet of the year, steep muddy run ups, off camber muddy descents. More mud as the course snaked through horse staples and around arenas, it even had a few fast sprints and some bumpy grass sections.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          Coming into the series finals I sat in second place over all, just a few points behind Ben Gomez-Villafane and a hand full in front of Garret Kautz, the three of us along with Rob Martone Lee Slone, and a few other received call ups for this final race to see who would come out on top after fighting through the mud and rain.

Photo By: Samantha Smallwood
Garrett Kautz taking the whole shot
          Unlike my recent races I had a satisfactory start, although not getting the whole shot, I was right with Ben and both of us were on Garrett's wheel. I would take the inside of the left hander heading onto the gravel road and put in a few hard pedal stokes coming out of the corner in the lead. Ben would follow me and the two of us would turn into the first off camber descent together. Ben and I would ride together the rest of the first lap, matching each other on much of the course, until the 2nd steep run up I would build a small gap, of 2 seconds at the start of the second lap and a 15 second gap until Lee Slone in third.

Photo By: Samantha Smallwood
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Photo By: Alvaro Gomez-Villafane

        For the first part of the second lap Ben and myself would still be racing until he worn down his break pads, had some small crashes and faded back in the field (he would finish 28th on the day). After realizing Ben had fallen back, and I was still building a gap on the B's field I would focus on being smooth and staying on two wheels.

Photo By Brain Vernor
Dropping into the first off camber alone.
          I would go on to build the gap a few seconds each lap, staying on two wheels the whole race. There was only a few times in the race, when I would start to lose my front wheel and think I was about to crash, but my I believe my background in mountain biking really helped staying upright in this mud fest. I would finish the race in first, 50 seconds in front of second.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Surf City #3 Mens B podium
4th Jed Wilson, 3rd Yohta Namba, 1st Chris Seymour, 2nd Graham Lirley, 5th Garrett Kautz
           Coming into the race I was sitting second to Ben in the overall standings knowing I would need to finish 3 or 4 places ahead of him to take the overall, unfortunately for him he had a few crashes and would finish 28th, but still 5th overall. Lee Slone would finish a respectable 9th on the day in the best conditions of the year, and his consistency would land him 4th overall. Rob Martone would fight through the deep mud and finish just behind Garrett Kautz for 6th and 5th on the day, as well as 3rd and 2nd overall respectively.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Surf City 2014 Overall Mens B podium
Photos By: Mark Seymour

Rough race, after being Sick

Photo By: Joe Suzuki
Year long battle with Lee Slone continued in San Francisco  
     This week's race was BASP #5, a race weekend where all the category had their own races, ex. Elite men on Saturday, and the Mens B raced Sunday. Saturday was wet and muddy while Sunday was about as perfect of riding conditions as possible

         The course was the almost same as BASP #1, Clark Natwick GP, just ran the other way. The two big changes were the lack of the bridge, and the setup of the barriers. In September the barriers were setup with a set before and after a u-turn, while this week all four were in a line. Also instead of being dry, dusty, and loose as is was in September, the course was moist, super tacky, and a bit
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Start of the Mens B race
         Although I received the number one call up for the race, base on winning BASP#3, the Sierra Point night race and had choice of starting spot I struggled with start. During the week between Surf City #2 and BASP#5 I had been sick, coughing a lot with a sore throat, and hadn't yet recovered enough so I took some medicine before race, the wrong medicine. Going for the whole shot I was having a hard time breathing, the medicine had dried out my throat. I came off the "dirt road" into the trail first, but would take it very easy trying to catch my breath. About half way (maybe three quarters) through the first lap while leading we went down the hill before turning left back up it, I had my chain come to the inside. I tried a few times to shift and get it back on, but could not get it and alas had to dismount and fix it by hand before struggling up the short steep hill, after getting passed by around 20 racers.
Photo By: Joe Suzuki
Working through the field
          For the middle part of the race laps 2-4 I was working back up through the field, catching people and waiting for good spots to pass, and trying to get as much water as possible to try and keep my throat moist so I could breath. I slowly caught and past people I recognized and have battled against at past races.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Catching 4th and 3rd

         Going into the 5th lap I would catch 6th and 5th and pass them on the road before the right hand turn onto the single track. Coming out of the first section of single track onto the gravel road i caught 4th place, with 3rd insight ahead of us we worked together to bridge the gap. For the rest of the lap I would ride in the pack of 3rd, 4th and 5th judging speeds and trying to save energy for the bell lap, the next time around. After finishing the lap in the group I knew being sick and not able to sprint well that if I was in the back of the pack as we went through the barriers I would not be able to stay with them as the groups speed would increase until the end.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
           During the bell lap, I was starting to tire quick and lost the wheel of 4th a few time in the first part of the lap. As we got closer to the barriers I tried make a few moves passing 4th in a few corners, and both of them in one, but alas I could not make a short sprint coming out of any of the corners and found my self a bikes length back entering the barriers. At this point my focus was to maintain my podium spot by staying smooth and on two wheels as could see Lee Slone and Dave Mongan coming up fast. I would end up in 5th, 22 seconds back of 4th, and just 1 second ahead of Lee

Photo By: Mark Seymour

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