It’s akin to being late to work. The more anxious you become, the more obstacles are thrown in your way. As we sauntered around packing in the morning, we did not know what was in store for the “easy” 3 hour drive to the Sagebrush Safari– the first of the Kenda Cup West races for 2011.
The snow covered Southern California landscape was intoxicating. If one had been thrown into the car asleep and opened their eyes, they would have believed they were in Colorado. With a foot of snow covering the sage brush and rocks, we had been given the rare visual gift of fresh snow. The drive in on the I-8 was slow. Ice, snow and slush caused a conga line of slow moving vehicles. In spite of warnings, we made it to the venue on time, and safely.
Upon arrival, Team Big Bear’s Tom Spiegel was no where to be seen. I typically find Tom and say my hello upon arriving at the races. He was out, apparently, changing the course. Spiegel could not bear the thought of someone becoming seriously injured in the race, thus the mostly epic Sagebrush course was changed to a short flat course. Sinkholes and dangerous situations on the mountain compelled Tom to “for the safety of all” to nix the course, rather than cancel the race. “I couldn’t live with myself if someone was injured today,” Tom told us as we toed the line.
I opted to ride my single speed today. I finished rebuilding my g1gi (1 gear girl) Saturday. The matte black and pink Cannondale is my favorite bike. Decked out with polished White Industries ENO cranks, hubs (handmade in the U.S.A.) and Magura Marta SLs, she is beautiful. And she was about to get dirty.
I hadn’t ridden singelspeed for almost two years, but it still seemed like a good idea. As I stood at the registration table I hemmed and hawed. Should I race Pro, or Single? I opted for Single, and I do not regret that decision. With 2 base layers, a vintage mtbchick.com skinsuit (from 2002), a wool Walz Cap under my helmet and Dorothy Wong’s winter gloves (which she regretted loaning to me instead of her regular long finger gloves), wool SheBeest socks (one of Claudia Ried’s designs), and Belgian Knee Warmers (that’s embrocation, or heat salve) I was ready to roll.
In what may have been a turn of events for women’s racing, there were more women racing singlespeed than Pro. 4 women lined up with one gear, while only one turned up to race Pro. With Allison Mann out on injury, and no neo Pros, and no others returning only one woman raced. Rebecca Tomaszewski rode solo to take the Pro honors. It does remind me of the old days, except, back then, they threw all of the Pros and Experts together. I raced the old Tour de Wolf as an expert with no hope of winning since I had to race all of the Gary Fisher Genesisters Pros. I wouldn’t mind seeing that again in local racing– it’s so much better than having 1 person in each class.
The race course was changed to a flat cyclocross type course with a few GIANT stream crossings. So deep I believe my head tube was under water! I crashed once and was hit by another rider, smashing a number plate to bits with my elbow. The mud began to dry out on the last lap, becoming sticky, otherwise the mud fest was fun. I was chasing Dorothy Wong with her 29er, but with her cyclocross experience and prowess , there was no hope to catch her. With no rest on the course, my average heart rate was 176. For an hour and 25 minutes, it surprised me. I haven’t seen numbers like that in years.
There was no change in the order from the first lap: Dorothy Wong, me, Kathryn LaPointe in first second and third with Rachelle Suarez rounding out the field in 4th. A solid group of women.
The largest women’s field at Sagebrush was the Cat 2 40-49 class with 10 starters. Shannon Vandevelde took the win over local favorite Sue Thompson (PAA).
Adam Morka (Trek Canada) stole the show in the Men’s Pro race and rode away from the pack unchallenged. Zach Valdez proved his success in the SoCal High School MTB League was no fluke with a third place finish in the Pro field. In the end, everyone had a great time at the 2011 Sagebrush. My only request is that next year, let’s do Pinos!
Open Women Singlespeed:
1. DOROTHY WONG, ALTADENA CA, THE TEAM / SOCALCROS in 1:23:40.66
2. TONYA BRAY, ALTADENA CA, MTBCHICK.COM/CANNONDALE in 1:25:01.91
3. KATHRYN LAPOINTE, SAN DIEGO CA, 3dyn in 1:34:45.04 60
4. RACHELLE SUAREZ , ESCONDIDO CA in 1:47:38.31 51