JAN. 20, 2013, BAKERSFIELD, CA. By Phil Beckman/PB Creative — Score one for the northerners. For the first time in the three-year history of the Nor Cal vs. So Cal California State Cyclocross Championship, the historically strong skills of the riders from “up state” were able to overcome the superior numbers of those from “down south.” A change in the points structure at the 2013 event, held once again at Hart Memorial Park in Bakersfield, California, helped level the playing field on a lovely, dry day.
The numbers don’t lie. The final score had the North with more points — 310 to 233 —and more than twice as many individual class championships: 11 to 5. There had been quite a bit of friendly social media smack talk going on between the two groups leading into the event, but everything was cool during and after it was all over. Nobody got stabbed in the neck.
The Elite Men’s race finally sealed the deal for Nor Cal, as Santa Cruz natives Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) and Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) were unstoppable on a long, fast course punctuated by several brutal run-ups.
Local hero Garth Feldstein (Ritte CX Team) grabbed the early lead but jammed his chain on the third lap and had to change bikes. By this time Ortenblad and Bradford had separated themselves from the 16-rider field, with only Eric Bostrom (Sho-Air/Cannondale), representing for So Cal, able to hang.
These three worked together for the next three laps and built a huge gap back to Justin Robinson (Cal Giant/Specialized), the ageless Don Myrah (Ibis) and Anton Petrov (SDG/Felt/IRT).
With three to go it was down to two, notably due to the fact that Bradford and Ortenblad were bunnyhopping a critical barrier leading into a hideously steep run-up, while Bostrom — a former motorcycle road racing champion but relatively new bicycle racer — could not. After being yo-yoed half a dozen times, Bostrom was cooked.
Ortenblad made his move on the last climb on the last lap, a jump that Bradford could not counter on the final long, paved, slightly downhill stretch back to the finish. Ortenblad punched the banner as he crossed the line several seconds ahead of a freewheeling Bradford.
“I waited and thought maybe I’d try something with two to go, but I wasn’t confident enough,” stated the 18-year-old Ortenblad. “Aaron has come back from injury and is riding strong. I knew he wouldn’t be easy to beat. So I waited till one to go and then let Aaron pass me at the bottom of the run-up so I could be on his wheel the rest of the lap. I went by on that hill and kept the pressure on and it worked out. It was good training for the World Championships in Kentucky in a couple of weeks.”
The 28-year-old Bradford, just back from Nationals with a Single Speed silver medal, was philosophical. “It’s not the first time I’ve gotten second to Tobin and it probably won’t be the last,” he said. “It’s really hard to outride that kid, but it’s always fun, clean racing with him. We popped out on the road and he got a little bit of a gap and that’s all he needed.”
Bostrom rolled in alone for third, Petrov completed his usual come-from-behind charge in fourth, while Feldstein benefited from a 30-second penalty to Robinson to round out the podium. Robinson, who had earlier won a compelling battle with David McNeal (SPY/Giant) for the 35+ title, finished his day at the first aid tent with a chainring gash in his ankle.
The Elite Women’s race was far less dramatic. But it would turn out to be one of the few bright spots for So Cal supporters. In only her third cyclocross race, 23-year-old road triathlete Amanda Nauman (Felt) moved past early leaders Elicia Hildebrand (Team Rambuski Law) and Katie Melena (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) to win by over a minute.
“I’m not gonna lie — it’s pretty awesome,” she beamed. “It was a lot of fun. I’ve been doing a lot more practicing in the dirt and I think that’s paying off. Plus I was riding a bike we built yesterday that actually fits. My first two ‘cross races, I was on a borrowed bike. I love this sport. It’s just a different, family atmosphere and people are so supportive. I’m totally psyched about it. I totally plan on killing it next season.”
She will have a chance to defend her title, since promoter Sam Ames has already committed to a 4th Annual Nor Cal vs. So Cal State Cyclocross Championship at this same venue a year from now.
2013 California State CX Champions
Elite Men: Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized)
Men Cat 3: Quinten Kirby (The TEAM SoCalCross)
Men Cat 4: Justin Russo (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)
Men 35+: Justin Robinson (Cal Giant Cycling)
Men 45+: Gannon Myall (Cal Giant Cycling)
Men 55+: Henry Kramer (Cal Giant Cycling)
Single Speed Men: Ryan Rinn
Elite Women: Amanda Nauman (Felt)
Women Cat 4: Carolina Gomez Villafane
Master Women 35+, 45+, 55+: Lindsey Collins
Single Speed Women: Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster)
Youth: Jenner Hutson
Junior Girls 10-14: Cheyenne Cover (The TEAM SoCalCross)
Junior Boys 10-14: Parker Rous (Bolthouse Farms/AIAGE Cycling)
Junior Girls 15-18: Courtney Comer (The TEAM SoCalCross)
Junior Boys 15-18: Quinten Kirby (The TEAM SoCalCross)
Nor Cal vs. So Cal! Elicia Hildebrand and Dorothy Wong square off in Elite Women’s staging.
Parker Rous (Bolthouse Farms/AIAGE), Junior Boy’s 10-14 champion.
Sporting her brand-new CX National Championship jersey, Courtney Comer (The TEAM) rode to the Junior Girls 10-14 California State title.
Quinton Kirby (The TEAM) battled with Chance Tiner for Junior Boys 15-18 honors. Kirby also grabbed Cat 3 Men’s gold.
Single Speed Men’s winner Ryan Rinn.
Ellen Sherrill (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) claimed Women’s Single Speed.
New Cat 4 Men’s champ Justin Russo (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo).
David McNeal (SPY/Giant) was the early Men’s 35+ leader.
Justin Robinson (Cal Giant) came from behind for the Men’s 35+ victory.
On the line with the Elite Women.
Early in Elite Women, Elicia Hildebrand (Team Rambuski Law) leads Amanda Nauman (Felt) and Katie Melena (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster).
Road triathlete Amanda Nauman (Felt) schooled the Elite Women’s field in her third CX race.
The Elite Women’s podium (left to right): Robin Kaminsky (Black Sheep Squadron, 5th), Elicia Hildebrand (Team Rambuski Law, 2nd), Amanda Nauman (Felt, 1st), Katie Melena (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster, 3rd) and Dorothy Wong (The TEAM SoCalCross, 6th).
Bakersfield’s own Gareth Feldstein (Ritte CX Team) was the early Men’s Elite leader.
Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) hops a critical barrier ahead of Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) and Eric Bostrom (Sho-Air/Cannondale).
Eric Bostrom (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was a strong third in Men’s Elite and the top So Cal rider.
Late in Men’s Elite, Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) leads Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) up “the wall.”
Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized) got away from Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster) in the waning moments of Men’s Elite.
The Men’s Elite podium (left to right): Anton Petrov (SDG/Felt/IRT, 4th), Aaron Bradford (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster, 2nd), Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized, 1st), Eric Bostrom (Sho-Air/Cannondale, 3rd) and Gareth Feldstein (Ritte CX Team).
The final tally.