17 June 2014
Tom Simpson and Pilarcitos received confirmation from USA Cycling that the 2014-15 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar (CXNC) has a stop in San Francisco. After a 9-year absence, the GP Clark Natwick returns following its last appearance at Golden Gate Park, to run on 21 September 2014. This version’s venue is Candlestick Point. Tom Simpson said the location is in part because of difficulty in running at Sierra Point in September, a heavy boating month on the Bay.
Other events on the CXNC calendar include the Florida CX National in Dade City (31 August 2014), VeloCX in Blaine, MN (1 November 2014), and Ruts ‘N Guts in Tulsa, OK (6-7 December 2014).
Last December, Simpson revealed to NorCal Cycling News an effort was underway at returning UCI Cyclocross to the Bay Area for 2014.
A plan for moving the Sierra Point Night Race to follow ‘Cross Vegas, and entice top international racers to make a short detour west from Sin City, fell through because of protocol. Pilarcitos has eight UCI races to its credit but the lack of an event on the 2013 CXNC made a UCI event for this year a big ask of USA Cycling. According to the USAC web site, those “races that seek UCI inscription and inclusion on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclo-cross Calendar (Pro CX) must first be part of the CXNC for at least one year.”
With the confirmation from USA Cycling, Simpson and Pilarcitos are back on track and now have a new stepping-stone to qualify for a UCI race, this time in 2015. Planning is already well underway. Providence Competition Director Patrick Goguen will visit Candlestick Point later this November, to assist in preparations for the following year. Pilarcitos is reaching out to its current sponsors.
Supporters of a San Francisco event include UCI Cyclocross Coordinator Peter van den Abeele and Brook Watts of ‘Cross Vegas, reports Simpson. Speculation goes both ways for a 2015 UCI Cyclocross World Cup race in Vegas, witness these reports from Cycling News and Velo News. Regardless, should all go to plan, Simpson’s decided appetite could very well come to fruition and Northern California ‘cross enthusiasts will “see and meet the celebrities, the star power of our sport”.
A Pioneer and a Local Name
GP Clark Natwick is a recognition of the last time such an event ran in the Bay Area as well as the ‘cross racer himself. Clark Natwick has four National Cyclo-cross Championships to his name (1981, 1982, 1986, 1987) plus one at the Junior level. He raced in the heady seventies against Jim Gentes, Joe Ryan, and Laurence Malone and Natwick represented the USA at World Championships. Many consider him one of the pioneers of the sport both locally and throughout the nation.
By e-mail, Natwick wrote, “The last time the Clark Natwick Grand Prix was held in Golden Gate Park it was a huge successes. I brought my whole family to see the race. Including my Dad who has the same name as me, Clark!
“I’m always happy to help out Tom in any way I can. If he feels it’s fitting to host a first class cyclo cross race and call it the “Clark Natwick Grand Prix” I’m honored.
“Cyclo cross was a really fun sport when I competed in it and held the USA National Team Coach position. I’ve watched it grow over the years, its popularity has increased every year. It’s become more [than the] sport that we marvel at the athletics skills of the Belgium’s racing it. The next step is the Olympics.”
Clark Natwick now coaches in San Mateo (clarknatwickcoaching.com) and plans to attend his namesake ‘cross race.
“They’re Our Peeps”
The CXNC event is separate from Pilarcitos’ Bay Area Super Prestige (BASP) cyclocross series of races and comes under USAC permitting. This imparts the national organization’s system for categorizing riders. Tom Simpson anticipates time for seven events and possible combined fields on race day.
Tentative Race Schedule
Elite Men (USAC Cat 1 and 2)
Elite Women (Cat 1-4)
Master 35’s (Cat 1-4)
Master 45’s (same)
B Men (Cat 2 and 3)
C Men (Cat 4 and 5)
“One group we need to find a home for will be the Single Speeders,” reported Simpson. “They may take the place of the 55/Juniors or we’ll squeeze them in as a separate 8th race – we can’t dump them. They’re our people. We want to find a place for all of our customers on this important date.”
“One critical philosophy we need to insure remains,” continued Simpson, “even if contrary to USAC standards. That is, ‘we don’t pull lapped riders’. As long as lapped riders move off the line when leaders approach they can stay in. Failure to yield means we employ the dreaded ‘80% rule'”.
Simpson also reports a much bigger prize list for the CXNC event than at BASP Cyclocross. The purses are $1,750 for Elite Men and $1,250 for Elite Women. Equal awards go to the top three in each race.
Bay Area Super Prestige Cyclocross
Along with the Grand Prix Clark Natwick race, Pilarcitos Cyclesports host a much changed sequence of cyclocross races this coming season. Their calendar is already published on the BASP website; the Sierra Point and Candlestick Point venues take place over 2 days whilst CCCP at Coyote Point keeps its traditional format. In short, the same number of race days as in 2013 but across three weekends.
Tom Simpson reports via e-mail, “We want to experiment with double days, not for every field but as much to offer more fields single category racing, instead of the usual mixed and crowded fields. For both our Night Race and our date at Candlestick, 2 weeks later, we’re going to experiment a little. We have quite a few big fields that have two categories in them – and it makes a packed day trying to get everyone on course in just [a single] day. [We] could race Saturday AND Sunday, split apart some of the big fields so that we have more single category fields racing.”
The experiments raise a number of questions regarding riders racing twice in a day or over 2 days. “That’s the big experiment,” continued Simpson. “If we can create more races with just a single field, can we get enough racers to make it pay?
“We want to see if we can split Masters into individual fields, both Elite Masters and B’s/C’s. They are currently large fields racing at 60-90 starts and that’s crowded. Leaders of the second group always run into traffic of the first start group – can we figure out a method to offer them individual heats – and still pay the bills?
“We’re thinking of this both to offer more and better racing but also thinking of our staff. Set-up is still an entire day and more, clean-up after the final race can be done in just a couple of hours but November runs into daylight shutting us down at 5:00 pm. Last year we did finish in the dark – that’s not happening again.
“Our staff and Roaring Mice deserve decent conditions to work in and that means we have to be finished in daylight. I’m going to ask the Rangers at Candlestick and the Harbor Master in Brisbane if we can do partial clean-up on Sunday afternoon and finish up Monday morning. That would allow us to offer racing that would finish at 3:45 or so. We could still take down the bridge and finish line in safety and then return Monday morning to clear course pins and poles.”
BASP Cyclocross 2014-15 Calendar
8-9 November 2014 – Sierra Point Night Race/Sunday Repechage, Sierra Point
22-23 November 2014 – CandleStick Point CycloCross
7 December 2014 – CCCP Cyclocross at Coyote Point
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