“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” It’s an old, untraceable phrase dripping with philosophical caution. Many literature nerds will cite the author W.W. Jacobs as having coined it first in the novel The Tale of the Monkey’s Paw, published in 1902. Others will unequivocally state it was Goethe with a similar written observation in 1874 London. Whatever. These days it’s become part of pop culture vernacular, applied liberally in topics everywhere from bankrupt lottery winners to Sarah Palin.
And now it’s being brought to bear in, of all places, a cyclocross race report. It’s highly unlikely Jacobs or Goethe were ‘cross fans, but I couldn’t verify that prospect anywhere in Google. Maybe they were hardcore CX hammerheads, but this cannot be confirmed or was footnoted. I digress.
Words and images by Philip Beckman/PB Creative
Anyway, for nearly two years SoCal ‘crossers have been doing their thing on nothing but grass, dusty trails and access roads, and the occasional strip of pavement. You see, this region has been in the iron grip of a drought bad enough to make a cactus gasp. Very little rain to speak of and hardly a hint of mud, the mother’s milk of traditional CX activities. The veterans of the SoCalCross Prestige Series had begun to repeat themselves when talking about the “good ol’ days,” while the neophytes just rolled their eyes and slapped on another coat of sunscreen.
Then, out of the seemingly endless blue, a rogue cold front slid out of the Pacific and provided a short but significant soaking. It happened to arrive just before the Peloton Cross, round seven of the series, held at Lake Casitas Recreation Area just over the city limits of coastal Ventura. The publishers of peloton Magazine, the primary backer of the event, must have sacrificed a chicken or something.
The result was a surface akin to three inches of axle grease over linoleum. Slick as gorilla snot on a door knob. Worse yet, this chunky peanut butter stuck to everything like superglue. During the morning warmup, riders were dismayed to find that their bike’s frame, brakes, tires and drivetrain became completely jammed within moments. Rear derailleurs were snapping like twigs. Picking it up and running with it would be the traditional thing to do, but now the bike weighed at least twice as much as usual and shoe cleats were so packed that ballerina slippers would have been more effective. Photos do NOT do this stuff justice. Opting for a mountain bike instead of a CX bike proved advantageous for anyone with a choice.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as the organizer’s sole compact pressure washer worked its little heart out. The course was shortened slightly up until lunchtime to eliminate the worst of the muck, but pity the poor children and juniors who made up the first wave of racing and were therefore tasked with creating some sort of rideable line. Let’s just say it was a mixture of laughter and tears. By the third wave a yard-wide groove had formed that got things back up to speed, but to deviate from this line in a pass attempt or a moment of inattention was to do so at one’s genuine peril. Two brief showers during the day ensured it stayed this way. Be careful what you wish for.
Not surprisingly, the weather and a slightly longer drive for most of the regulars left the Peloton Cross with a relatively thin turnout. Too bad, because this is one of the most scenic, entertaining and generous stops on the circuit. The prize list and raffles were impressive.
Cashing in most effectively were Elite A class winners Andrew Juliano and Kora Colasuonno in the Men’s and Women’s categories, respectively.
Those are both new names at the top of the spotlight results with SoCalCross. This was the first race for Colasuonno (S.W.A.T.) in the premier division, in only her first year of racing bicycles of any kind. Colasuonno rode the wheel of fast-starter Christina Probert-Turner (The TEAM SoCalCross/Turner Bikes) until the halfway mark in the five-lap race, then passed and rode away to win by 43 seconds. Young Summer Moak (Felt/K-Edge) pedaled a lonely third, followed by series promoter Dorothy Wong (The TEAM SoCalCross) and Shannon Moak (FCS|Cycling p/b Zngine).
“I just catted up this week. I don’t know what to say other than I’m stoked!” said winner Colasuonno. “I just gave it my all and didn’t give too much thought to strategy. I’m just kind of figuring it out. I thought the course was awesome; the mud wasn’t too crazy by the time we took our turn, so that was a plus.”
Men’s A victor Juliano, as we learned, has spent considerable time on the NorCal cycling scene, but is now working in SoCal as an editor at h3 Publications (Road and Decline Magazines) in Valencia. He shrugged off a back-row start by making a risky charge at the edge of the firm line on the long start straight to move all the way up to fourth place at turn one, which he rounded on foot.
Jean-Louis Bourdevaire (Blackstar) had taken the holeshot, but was soon relegated to third by both Juliano (Rock Lobster/Voler/HRS/Stevens Creek BMW/Jeff Traugott Guitars) and another SoCalCross newcomer entered in the concurrent Elite U23 class, Alexander Howard (BullShark Racing). Bourdevaire regained second place on lap three and was keeping Juliano in sight, but then went down and out with a left ankle injury.
On the move was Alfred Pacheco (Buena Park Bikes), slipping into second at half distance. By this time the smooth and confident Juliano was long gone. The last few laps were basically a procession, with riders spread out evenly all around the course. Ageless Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Focus) started to pull up on Scott Lundy (Serious Cycling) for fourth place, but then ran out of time in a one-hour race that could have gone another lap before time expired.
Juliano remarked afterward that his cassette had broken with six laps to go, effectively putting him on a singlespeed. “That started to suck toward the end,” he said with a wry grin. “I can’t ask for much better. Peloton did great with this race; it was a good course and a fun atmosphere. It was a bummer about Jean-Louis. He had me looking over my shoulder.”
Next on the SoCalCross schedule is the inaugural Anza Crossing on Saturday in Riverside. Following Sunday’s USA Cycling CX District Champs/Udo Cross in Escondido, SoCalCross continues with a biggie: the UCI CXLA Weekend at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, 11/22-23.
To stay informed of all the SoCalCross PRESTIGE SERIES activities, visit SoCalCross.org.
Cyclocross Schedule on SoCalCycling.com