NorCal CX • San Jose Cougar
5 October 2013
On a hot, bumpy, and dusty day, Rachel Lloyd (DFL) and Jim Hewett (OSMO) took differing victories at the inaugural NorCal CX series. The San Jose Cougar race saw Lloyd reach the switchbacks in third, on lap one, but exit the technical section in first. From there Lloyd controlled her gap in the Women’s Elite race to take a serene victory.
Hewett fended off challenges from Keith Hillier (Team Rambuski Law) and Walton Brush (MashSF) in an early exciting portion of the Men’s Elite race. Both Hillier and Brush had their races slowed by mechanical failures leaving Hewett to execute the rest of his race for a well-deserved win.
There was much love and hate for the ‘cross course at San Jose Cougar but it had a Murphy Mack mark all over it. Andrew Yee also lent his hand with a Cyclocross Magazine Repercussion Ride Up; a short but loose incline without a definite riding line.
Elsewhere, a single barrier at the bottom of the first of two hills had many claiming that horse’s asses outnumbered horses. “This is cyclocross racing,” railed Mack, “and cyclocross racing is known as being difficult. For those that like a challenge, we’ve got cyclocross racing and we have more in store for the rest of the year.”
The hills themselves were definitely challenging with the heat. And the hecklers at the peak. Even the follow-on downhill was not much respite for some as they ploughed through the dusty and bumpy fire road.
But it was a technical section that began Rachel Lloyd’s race to victory. Emily Kachorek and Karen Brems were leading as they entered this portion of the course but Lloyd got through with her handling and tore off for the hills leading the race.
“Emily [Kachorek] got the hole-shot,” reported Brems, “but she’s a little slower through the turns. Rachel [Lloyd] went around her then I went around. I stayed with Lloyd maybe about a lap and that just blew me and I had to let her go.”
For a couple of laps, the race looked to repeat the outcome from BASP the previous week but Kachorek and Brems would trade positions. “[Kachorek] was five or 10 seconds behind me for two laps and I just blew,” continued Brems. “It’s hot out there with all the climbing. Kachorek has the fitness and Lloyd has the handling. I’m in the middle on both but, yeah, it was a hard course.
“The hills suit me it’s just Emily Kachorek is fitter. I can’t say it was a bad course for me. I like the hills. Rachel Lloyd claims she’s not fit but I don’t really believe her. She used to train like a maniac. It’s good when we have competition, it’s good when we have a battle and that’s good racing.
“I’m really grateful to Murphy Mack for opening up another series and getting some venues right in the Bay Area. [The course] has something for everybody.”
Titration in ‘Cross
Kachorek described her race saying, “I couldn’t keep up with Rachel Lloyd in the technical stuff. Karen Brems passed me shortly after; I sat behind for about a lap and a half before I caught up. There’s a loose tight uphill and I was able to get a gap there. I punched on the big climb right after that. That’s where I got the biggest gap.
“I know it’s easy to make a mistake because it’s so loose. So I’d rather titrate my gap and not make any mistakes rather than go into stuff too hot and worry about 25 versus 20 seconds.”
With Lloyd rolling fluidly toward her win and Kachorek taking command of second place, Ellen Sherrill (Rock Lobster) looked toward taking the third step of the podium away from Brems. The gap to third stretched to and fro on a rubber band but Sherrill was unable to close it completely. Sherrill has placed well recently in the single-speed B races and today crossed the line in fourth.
Elite Men’s Field
Along with a terrific and competitive field for Elite Women, the Elite Men also lined up top ‘cross racers. Aaron Bradford (Rock Lobster) came in for his first race of the season. Don Myrah (ibis/Buy-cell.com) took to the course and demonstrated that he is a National Champion by passing racer after racer following an early mechanical.
Once the race got underway, Walton Brush, Keith Hillier, and Jim Hewett became the main protagonists.
Brush switched bikes early whilst Hillier had drive-train problems. “These guys are really fit right now,” commented Hewett. “I know that from racing just the last month against them. I knew it was going to be hard race.
“Each of them had some sort of mechanical. I bobbled the barrier before the climb on the back and they gapped me a little bit. But then I was able to catch up.
“Walt had some sort of flat issue and switched bikes. Keith was having shifting issues. Then I was able to get ahead of them and from there keep a gap. I think they had some other issues as well. It was nice to not sprint to the line.
“It was definitely a tough course. A lot of climbing and no shade. Wherever I could find it I was in it.
“I had seen the 35+ A’s coming in and I thought their pace looked really casual. After pre-riding a couple of laps I understood why. We’re going to be worn out.
“You’re not going to be hammering the flats. You’re going to trying to climb the climbs and keep it together. I knew I didn’t want to try to get away from a lot of people but I also knew I didn’t want to get into those first turns in tenth.
“I was on the front line and wanted to keep that position. I didn’t want to let people get away but I also didn’t feel like I needed to gap everybody. Just get into the technical stuff at the front. That alone would get you out ahead of most people.”
More than One Way to Skin a Cat
Both Hillier and Brush recovered from their set backs and started on the task of getting back to Hewett. With the temperatures in the high 80s and the long, difficult course, Hewett was able to stay ahead and build his gap.
Hillier eventually took second place. Brush secured third as he and a couple of Rock Lobster racers entertained the crowd hopping over barriers.
Bradford was one of the few racers to hop over the closely-spaced boards at the final barriers. Team mate Scott Chapin took a different tact by riding outside the barriers but inside the tape.
1. Rachel Lloyd
2. Emily Kachorek
3. Karen Brems
4. Ellen Sherrill
5. Olivia Dillon
6. Leah Plack
7. Caroline Dezendorf
8. Natalia Gardiol
9. Heather Pugh
10. Emily McKissock
11. Mary Ellen Ash
1. Jim Hewett
2. Keith Hillier
3. Walton Brush
4. Peter Lucas
5. Aaron Bradford
6. Kyle Murphy
7. Devon Vigus
8. Tsering Allayne
9. Mitch Trux
10. Aaron Wilcher
11. Gabe Forsythe
Full results are posted at the NorCal CX website.
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