Report & Photos: SoCalCrossers Get Roughed Up at the Park

After the test of technical skills that defined the previous weekend in San Diego, Velocity Cross was a relative walk in the park. Prado Regional Park in Chino, California, to be precise. This eighth round of the 2012-13 SoCalCross Prestige Series was staged on a flat, relatively tame course. But what it lacked in obstacles to test one’s competitive spirit was more than made up in the nature of the surface. Most of it consisted of deep, power-hungry, soul-sucking sod.

And it was, to put it mildly, bumpy. Imagine a course laid on a field of freeway Bott’s Dots. It was a boneshaker. Vibrations were being picked up at CalTech. Lumpier than grandpa’s mattress. That’s perhaps a literal stretch, but ask the scores of riders who came off the track with oozing hand blisters and you might get an argument of fact. Now add in unusually warm temperatures, even for early November in Southern California, pushed by a Mojave Desert-borne Santa Ana wind condition, and you have the makings for a challenging CX by anyone’s standards.

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Photos By Phil Beckman/PB Creative

Seemingly riding a full suspension mountain bike was elite Women’s A class winner Carolin Schiff (Felt/SDG/IRT/ SPY). Her smooth, effortless style belied a little bit of rage at Velocity Cross. Normally cool, calm and smiling, this runaway points leader had taken offense to some scuttlebutt going around earlier in the week concerning her form.

So she simply laid waste to the race. “My plan was to go very fast on the first lap and to be alone,” she stated. “It worked. I had a lonely race but I pushed myself very good. It was exhausting with the heat and the bumps and I had a very high heart rate, so it was good training.”

Then she added with a laugh, “Some people are learning German! They’re cheering in German — that’s so cool!”

Emily Georgeson (Helen’s/Cannondale) and Amanda Schaper (Ritte CX Team) were the best of the rest and fought over the runner-up spot until Schaper went down and possibly bent her derailleur hanger. Not long after that the derailleur ripped loose and Schaper had to make a long run to the pits for her spare bike. She still managed to snare third place by a comfortable margin, then went out and won the Single Speed Women’s class on the same bike.

There was a rough finish in the elite Men’s A race between Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road) and Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific), ironically on the smoothest part of the course. Just as they had the weekend before in San Diego, at Velocity Cross these two separated themselves from the rest of the field by the halfway mark to set up yet another late-race brawl. The spectators knew the score and were on their feet waiting for the fireworks.

They were launched on the final long, paved straightaway leading to the finish line. Prenzlow dashed onto the asphalt first, with Gritters on his wheel. Fans were not treated to an elbow-to-elbow bike throw or big victory salute under the banner, however. A subdued Prenzlow crossed first, with Gritters freewheeling in and gesticulating to the race officials. Gritters contended that Prenzlow had cut him off during the sprint. The officials conferred and within moments concurred. Gritters was named the winner while Prenzlow was relegated to second place.

As Gritters described the last lap, “I felt pretty good. We started the sprint and I started coming by on his right side, which was clearly wide open. As soon as I got next to him and had more momentum he moved over on me. I was not happy when I crossed the finish line. I thought it was pretty obvious and the officials did too. So it was good in the end. It seems like there’s a little bit of controversy every weekend. It keeps it exciting.”

Prenzlow contended that there was no intentional impediment. “The finish straight is not straight,” he said. “I took a straight line and tried to make him go into the wind to pass me but the finish curves a bit to the right and he was trying to pass me on the right side so it looked like I impeded him. I don’t think it’s a good call. It’s not like I went to both sides of the course trying to run him into the barriers. I went to the fastest line and I was in the lead, so I get to choose my line. It’s okay, there are plenty more races to go. It’s a good battle.”

Chris Jackson (Castex Racing p/b Felt) rolled in by himself nearly a minute and a half later for third. He had been among the leading group then dropped a chain during an awkward remount and was never able to get back up front despite a determined chase. Kyle Gritters (Rock N Road) had taken the holeshot but then had to deal with a leaky tire and eventually finished fourth. Doug Hall (The TEAM SoCalCross) rounded out the podium and claimed Under 23 class honors.

For full results and more, visit the SoCalCross Prestige Series website.

Photos & Report By Phil Beckman/PB Creative

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