• Brems Shows her Stripes while Finnerty and his Rig Outlasts ‘Em All

    by  • November 3, 2013 • cx, norcal scene, race coverage

    Stafford Lake Wildcat
    NorCal Cyclocross Series • 3 November 2013

    Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law) continues to produce wins and made no doubt about today’s race at Stafford Lake; the TRL racer conquered a Murphy-esque course leaving behind the rest of a good Women’s A/Elite/Pro field. Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) secured the second step of the podium with Kristin Drumm crossing the finish line in third place.

    For the Men A/Elite/Pro race, Brian Finnerty (California Giant Specialized) did everything he needed to win as his rig remained intact, though others were less fortunate. Scott Chapin (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) was in the hunt early before taking second place. Walton Brush (MashSF) was one of the racers to suffer from equipment problems before he took the final step of the podium.

    Brems Shows Just Why She Wears the Stripes

    Brems Shows Just Why She Wears the Stripes

    Here a Bale, There a Bale
    Stafford Lake is a picturesque venue with plenty of room for a 2.3-mile cyclocross course. The back-forty had a stair run-up, taped to allow riding only part the way up; plenty of off-camber and single-track; and a whoop-de-doo out of the natural terrain. The difficulty at this latter section was marked, for a good portion of the day, by first aid stationing themselves nearby.

    The in-field area held the start and finish lines, all the plank barriers, the now signature Belgium Farm Wall, and Asa’s Bar – hay bales arranged with limited riding lines. It is a classic Asa Salas obstacle in keeping with a Murphy Mack ‘cross course. During breaks between riders, course workers shifted around the bales for an ever changing and unpredictable obstacle.

    The morning saw frost on the ground in the shade but all that was gone by the time the Women’s A race started in the cool afternoon. Ellen Sherrill lined up, after her SacCX win yesterday, with fellow Lobster Katie Jay Melena. Kristin Drumm was also in the field.

    Currently leading ‘cross series at Sagebrush and Sacramento, Hollie McGovern (Real Wheels/Cycleution) was also a fancied threat for the race win.

    Dominating Performance
    Yet, once the racers returned to the in-field, at the end of the first lap, it was Karen Brems racing hard and well in the lead. Clad in the dark blue Rambuski Law kit with the UCI World Champion stripes, Brems reached the Belgium Farm Wall 10 seconds ahead of Sherrill in second place. Drum and Malena were battling each other a further 7 seconds adrift.

    From this point on, Brems continued to build her lead with every lap bar one. The margin of victory after all was said and done reached 49 seconds. It was an impressive performance considering the potential for any one of the many obstacles to wipe out any margin.

    Brems modestly attributed her win to “Rachel Lloyd’s child-care issues. She raced with the [Master] Men so that made it easier for me.

    “I felt good,” continued Brems. “This is a good course for me with a lot of pedaling. Ellen was right behind me so I had to keep the pressure on for three laps or so. I could see I was gaining, so that’s always good.

    “With 2 laps to go she made up a little bit of time so then I had to hit the gas again. I went hard that time but by the second or third lap I knew I had to just keep the gap consistent and not do anything stupid to wipe myself out.”

    Reflecting on the increasingly competitive Women’s fields in Northern California, Brems remarked, “There is always new people coming up and old people coming out of retirement. You never know who you’re going to race every year. I just do my best and it’s the competition that makes you better. It’s nice to win one after a while.”

    Trapped by Hay Bales
    The Men’s A race was of a completely different character. The early leaders were Scott Chapin, Walton Brush, and Cal Giant team mates Brian Finnerty and Tobin Ortenbald. Not too far behind were the likes of Jim Hewett (OSMO) and Don Myrah (ibis/Buy-cell.com).

    Chapin showed good form early but was then the first to crack. Any anticipation of the two Cal Giant riders working over Brush soon evaporated with Ortenblad’s flat.

    Brush and Finnerty took up the challenge for first place but the MashSF racer would also suffer a flat.

    Finnerty Sweeps through an In-Field Corner

    Finnerty Sweeps through an In-Field Corner

    “Brush and Chapin attacked each other and a gap opened,” said Finnerty. “Tobin [Ortenblad] pushed me through because he flatted. I had to chase to catch up and went around Chapin. I caught up to Brush and he was riding hard.

    “[The hay bales were] to my disadvantage,” continued Finnerty. “Brush got a gap with two-to-go. He took the outside line where there were no bales. I was trapped in the middle and a gap opened of 10 seconds instantly.

    “I chased [Brush] and he flatted at the top of the run-up. That was it.”

    Brush dropped to third place as Chapin moved ahead of him.

    Myrah’s Charge
    As he had done in the previous day’s race at Lembi Park, Myrah put in a big charge late in the race, gaining plenty of ground on competitors. He took over fourth place, after others tangled at the Belgium Farm Wall, finishing just 5 seconds off of third. Hewet’s grip on fourth was lost on the final lap and he finished 8 seconds behind Myrah.

    “The course was hard and challenging,” described Finnerty. “The head wind section on the back was tough and difficult. It’s a fun course because of the hills. You have to use a lot of skill and technique and a lot of power to get through the bumps.

    “I usually race 35+ in Masters. I’m getting ready to do a couple of races back east and I needed to race some guys that can push for the full hour. The extra 20 minutes felt hard the last 2 laps.”

    Women A/Elite/Pro
    1. Karen Brems
    2. Ellen Sherrill
    3. Kristin Drumm
    4. Katie Jay Melena
    5. Emily Thurston
    6. Kelly Chang
    7. Chava Kronenberg
    8. Hollie McGovern
    9. Vicky Sama
    10. Heather Pugh
    11. Sarah Powers
    12. Olivia Dillon
    13. Rebecca Wolski

    Men A/Elite/Pro
    1. Brian Finnerty
    2. Scott Chapin
    3. Walton Brush
    4. Don Myrah
    5. Jim Hewett
    6. Kyle Murphy
    7. Justin Abbott
    8. Phil Mooney
    9. Chris McGovern
    10. Tobin Ortenblad
    11. Devon Vigus
    12.Mitchell Trux
    13. Justin Herrell
    14. James Williams
    15. Sean Estes
    16. Greg Willson
    17. Ranier Schaefer
    18. Chas Christansen
    19. Tsering Alleyne
    20. Brue Syvertsen
    21. Dustin White
    22. Erik Vangsnes
    23. Grant Cutler
    24. Adam Switters
    25. Eric Colton
    26. Ben Dodge
    27. Andrew Kennedy
    28. Nick Schaffner
    29. Matt Rossi
    30. Chris Atkinson
    31. Shiloh Kantz
    32. Paul Guerra
    33. Brandon Trafton
    34. Christon Dewan


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