Photos: Angel Gill
BONNY DOONE, CA—The third stop of the Surf City CX Series departed from the shores of Monterrey Bay and climbed the heights of the coastal range. The venue traded sand for dust, as racers gathered in the ridge top clearing of the CAL Fire Training facility for ‘cross on the roof of Santa Cruz County.
Despite the dry conditions, riders praised the new location. “This course was super fun,” said race winner Andy Jacques Maynes (Buy Cell.com-Ibis). “Those dusty turns were like surfing brown pow—just lean, hold on and, SSCHHHHGGGRRRRAAAAHHH, drift through them.”
Though mostly flat, the course demanded confident cornering, balanced with power to maintain flow and speed. The loose turns developed good, though precise lines, while the Nesquik dust pits demanded more power than Clark W. Griswald’s Christmas lights.
The post race haze hung over the training facility as the final sunbeams sunk behind the redwoods. In the twilight, Rock Lobster’s Alex Work commented, “I think we just found our new cyclocross headquarters.”
From the Dust Returned–A Champ on Top
The overall series leaders stood on the start line of the women’s race as competitors stared down the opening straight. Carolina Gomez Villafañe (Team Rambuski Law-Family Cycling Center) went off the front and charged into the first gravely corner—a move that washed out her front wheel and sent the Rambuski rider slapping into the ground.
As the Gomez Villafañe bounced off the gravel, Karen Brems (Rambuski Law) also got tangled in the starting scrum, bouncing into the snow fencing. The wreck left both Rambuski riders off the back of the pack, fighting to regain their positions after the chaos.
Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster) avoided the mayhem and attacked to form a sizable gap through the first lap. With the Rock Lobster out front, Brems found herself fighting through the field to regain contact with the leader.
By the beginning of the third lap, Brems caught Melena and powered past her competitor on the start/finish straightaway.
Melena maintained contact for another lap as Brems tried to stay smooth through the dusty corners. Brems commented, “That wasn’t a course you could force,” she explained, “There were a myriad of opportunities to loose the front wheel, so I just tried to stay smooth and keep going hard.”
While Brems and Melena continued at the front, Gomez-Villafañe charged through the field attempting to regain contact with the race leaders. The initial wreck wreaked havoc on rider and bike. Gomez-Villafañe explained, “I don’t remember exactly what happened but I think my wheel washed out then I hit a metal pole, hit my head and cracked my frame. My shifting didn’t really work and my back brake was broken the whole race. I was pretty shocked and it definitely hurt but I just decided to keep racing.”
After trading attacks with Janie Dalton (Missing Link) Gomez-Villafañe pulled in behind Melena with two laps to go.
By the final lap, Brems established enough of a lead to cruise in for the win, while Gomez-Villafañe salvaged her early race wreck and outlasted Melena for a second place finish.
Melena rolled across the line in third and reflected on her ride. “The racing felt good today. It’s nice to get a little closer to Karen and Caro each week.”
Dalton powered through the dust for fourth on the day, while Courtney Dimpel (Caletti Cycles) collected her third straight podium in the Surf City Series.
A Horse…of Course
With his brother Ben out of town, Andy Jacques-Maynes (Buy-Cell.com-Ibis) found himself the sole sibling lined up to defend the family winning streak at SCCX. With a victory at Aptos High and a second place at Harbor, Jacques-Maynes rolled into the starting grid, favored to take out the inaugural race in Bonny Doon.
At the whistle Justin Abbot (Devil Mountain Cyclery) snagged the hole shot as Jacques Maynes filed in behind. Jacques Maynes powered through the dusty curves to take the lead by the end of the first lap.
Each time Jacques-Maynes crushed through the speed sapping, Nesquik pits, the announcer would marvel at his output. “This is a horse’s course, and Andy Jaques-Maynes is a horse…look at him go.”
Though the dust couldn’t slow the Ibis rider, a treacherous butt-dollar hand up sent the race leader tumbling over a barrier in the final lap.
As Jacques Maynes galloped away at the front of the race Justin Abbot (Big Swingin Cycles), Andrew Juiliano (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster) and Scott Chapin (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster) formed into the main chase group. The trio stuck together for the first half of the race before a bobble in the wooded single track broke the group apart.
Scott Chapin attacked as the three riders scrambled through the dust, powering into the field and opening a gap on the chasers. Chapin established a 30 second gap while Juiliano and Abbot traded attacks behind him..
With two to go, Juiliano broke free of Abbot and caught Chapin on the bell lap. The smooth riding ‘stache prevailed for second place. Juiliano rolled in for third, ten seconds back, and Justin Abbot held off the remainder of the field for fourth position.
Justin Robinson (Cal Giant) snagged the final podium step, finishing fifth in the Elite Men, after winning the Master’s 35+ race just a few hours earlier.
Jeff Kendall-Weed earned himself a NCCN shout out for his bunny hop antics over the barriers that drew raucous cheers from the heckler-lined single track.
Full Results at Surf City Cyclocross Series
Men’s Top 5
- Andy Jacques-Maynes (Buy Cell.com-IBIS)
- Scott Chapin (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
- Andrew Juiliano (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
- Justin Abbot (Big Swingin’ Cycles)
- Justin Robinson (Cal Giant-Specialized)
Women’s Top 5
- Karen Brems (Team Rambuski Law)
- Carolina Gomez-Villafañe (Team Rambuski Law-Family Cycling Center)
- Katie Jay Melena (Bicycle Blue Book-Rock Lobster)
- Janie Dalton (Missing Link)
- Courtney Dimpel (Team Caletti)
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