VALLEJO, CA—The Bay Area doubled up on cyclocross this weekend as Sunday afternoon brought racers to Solano County for the Kitten of Vallejo. The fourth race in Murphy Mack’s NorCal CX Series offered up a technical course with plenty of climbing and high-speed plunges through Dan Foley Park.
Taking full advantage of the sloping venue, Mack’s course sent racers scrambling, climbing and slogging up the hillside. Run-ups, a natural log hurdle and a spongy grass climb led to the top of the park. Fully gassing racers on the ascent, the course then pointed down the grassy fairway, over the “ski jump” and swooped left toward the shoreline of Lake Chabot.
The #GHETOMOTO crew stood at the wooden launch ramp encouraging big air through their bullhorn and chastising any use of brakes on a descent tailored for gripping and ripping.
The suffering continued as pavement turned to a technical switch backed climb then tight grass corners through the start/finish area.
Sherrill Doubles Up on the Domination
Not content to sit up after her BASP victory the night before, Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster) lined up at the start of the Kitten, ready for another trip to the pain cave. The first lap climbed straight up the pavement to the spongy grass and Sherrill knew she needed to reach the top first to avoid any mishaps on the technical sections of the course. Sherrill explained, “After the fast descent, there’s a run up that’s rideable but I didn’t want to be stuck behind anyone and get wadded up in traffic. I barely squeezed into the lead before the ski jump and cleared the ride up at the bottom.”
Sherrill’s tactics paid off—after she past the ride up, she heard the sound of chaos behind her as competitors dismounted jammed into the bottle neck. At that point Sherrill rode to preserve her gap, and added seconds with each passing lap.
Teammate Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster) wound up in the first lap scrum and had to fight through traffic to move into second place. Sherrill noted, “Jay was hot my tail the whole race, I knew I couldn’t let up because she was charging hard to protect her position.”
Though riding solo, Melena kept surging to maintain her lead over Alison Tetrcik (Exergy Twenty16) whose professional road riding power threatened to overtake the second place competitor. Melena stayed smooth through the tech and kept enough pace on the climbs to finish second while Tetrick rounded out the podium in third for the women.
Commenting on her decision to race twice in less than 20 hours, Sherrill noted, “I might feel like a dump truck hit me tomorrow but today felt great—I figured I was on a role so I might as well race today too.”
Vigus Climbs the Podium with Consistency
The men’s race exploded off the start line as lactic acid built and big rings cranked on the opening climb. Kyle Murphy (MASH SF) reached the top of the grass climb in first before Andrew Juiliano (Bicycle Blue Book- Rock Lobster) moved to the front heading into the ski jump. The field’s tubular glue jobs survived the swooping grass descent as racers then powered toward the twistier sections of the course.
For the first five laps, Juiliano rode off the front, with Murphy, Jim Hewett (Summit Bikes-OSMO Nutrition) and Devon Vigus (Sharp Bicycles-Vigusracing.com) in pursuit. With three laps to go, Juiliano’s enthusiastic pace waned and Vigus overtook him in the grass turns, opening up a gap on the spongy grass climb. His attack would stick as Hewett and Juiliano continued to chase.
Vigus noted the course suited his riding style and explained, “There were plenty of places to make up ground and make up time. It was really a good course for a technical rider. Also, there were a lot of climbs which is more my thing. I like the hills.”
While Vigus relished the climbs, Hewett too used his affinity for hill climbing to move into second position. Hewett would hold his spot to finish second on the day, while Juiliano held off surging Gareth Feldstein (Ritte Racing) for the final podium step.
Vigus noted his consistency helped him take the victory in Vallejo. He explained, “I don’t like to go out too hard. I like to be patient and don’t want to blow up. I sat back and was fortunate enough that the guy in the lead faded. I was able to sneak by him, pick my own lines, and ride my own race. I felt stronger and stronger towards the end.”
Women’s Top Three
- Ellen Sherril (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
- Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
- Alison Tetrick (Exergy Twenty16)
Men’s Top Three
- Devon Vigus (Sharp Bicycles-Vigusracing.com)
- Jim Hewett (Summit Bicycles-OSMO Hydration)
- Andrew Juiliano (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
–with additional reporting from Tim Westmore
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