The SoCal cross season started last weekend with the first Prestige Series race at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. I was a little nervous going into the race: ‘Have I been training enough or too much, how prepared is everyone else going to be, are the new bikes ready and did I use enough glue on those new tubulars?’. Winning the overall series is a big goal of mine this year after being so close last season. I will be flying the Rock n Road Cyclery colors again this cross season, along with my brother, and we were looking to get some results on the board at this first race.
During my pre ride around the course, I got a good feel for the course and really enjoyed it. I felt that it suited me well, some fun twisty off camber stuff and a lot of fast wide open sections. All the regular SoCal racers were at the start and looking ready too race. There was Brent Prenzlow (holds 100+ wins in CX races in SoCal), Jason Siegel, Chris Jackson (winner of 3 MTB national titles over the summer), Kyle Gritters and 30-40 other racers ready to get it on. The race started fast as usual with everyone wanting to grab the hole shot into the first corner. I was able to get the hole shot closely followed by Jason Siegel and my brother. Kyle and I kept the pace fast on the first lap, stringing out the field and starting to creat some separations in the group. After the first lap in the twisty dirt section, Kyle opened up a small gap and I was happy to let him go and let some of the the riders in the front group do some work to bring him back. Brent Prenzlow took charge of the pacemaking in our group which contained myself, Chris Jackson and Jason Siegel just a few seconds off our group. A little farther back Ted Willard was chasing hard to join the front group followed by Cory Greenberg. After a couple laps, Kyle was back in our group and Jason had rejoined as well. At this point our group of 5 had a solid gap on the rest of the chasers and the winner of the race was going to come from this group. I made sure to never drop back farther then second or third wheel and remained attentive to Chris and Brent who were looking the best so far. With about 3 laps to go Chris put in an acceleration through the twisty dirt section on the far side of the course. At the time, I was third wheel and felt pretty comfortable that Jason would bring him back in the grass section before the lap ended. As we got to the start finish straight this was looking more and more like the move of the race. So, I put in an attack and took Brent with me across to Chris. We quickly opened up a gap to Jason and Kyle. During the last couple laps Brent, Chris and myself traded time at the front but Chris was spending a majority of the time on the front setting tempo and riding the technical portions well.
Brent put in an acceleration a couple turns into the last lap to be first into the sand section which leads to the run, and he was closely marked by Chris and me. On the run up, Brent jumped back on the bike early, mid way up the hill, but missed a pedal which allowed Chris and I to get past him and open up a slight gap. He quickly closed down the gap before we got to the grass and the last half lap. I was content to let Chris set the tempo through the barriers the last time and knew I would make my move past the pits the last time before the last couple turns and the finish straight. I put in my attack past the pits and made it to the last couple corners in the lead and had a straight shot out of the last corner to the line for my first win of the 2012 cross season! Meanwhile, in the last corner I could hear Chris and Brent banging bars and bikes trying to beat each other to the last corner. Chris ended up on the ground after the battle but was able to make it in for third behind Brent who was able to keep it up for second. Shortly after Kyle came in for fourth followed by Jason in 5th.
It was a great first race of the season and it looks like it is going to be a very competitive series again this year. Also, have to say thanks to Jeff, Dorothy and all the SoCal Cross crew for another great course and race.
1st Brandon Gritters
2nd Brent Prenzlow
3rd Chris Jackson
4th Kyle Gritters
5th Jason Siegel
6th Cory Greenberg
7th Ted Willard