October 7th marked the second round of the SoCal Cross series. The race took part in the heart of downtown Los Angeles; a mere 15 minutes away from where I grew up. This was my home race, my turf. I rallied as many friends and family members as possible. I wanted everyone out there supporting the scene. After last week’s misfortunes, I was determined to win on Sunday. The road would not be easy, but I knew it was in my grasp. I ran the Costa Mesa race through my head all of last week. What could I have done differently? Where was I strong? Where did I lose time? I wanted to have all of my bases covered and leave nothing to question when I toed the line on Sunday. Race time came and the elites lined up six abreast, five deep. The race got underway quickly and the pace was high. After half a lap the field had sorted itself out. Kyle Gritters was at the front, once again, driving the pace and trying to weaken the field for his brother Brandon. Unlike the previous week, the long flat straights allowed for a bigger group to form at the front. Through lap 1 we had close to 10 guys in the lead pack. During the second lap, the pace began to slow significantly. Kyle knew he was working for little in return. The pace continued to lag until a Cynergy rider made an attack at the front. Brandon Gritters jumped on his wheel and I was in tow. Not even 10 seconds had passed and the Cynergy rider flatted in the wood chips. Brandon jumped and I went with him. We had a slight gap and this appeared to be the first real move of the race. Two turns later, Brandon was on the ground. He hit the corner too hot and washed out. In this moment, with no time to think, I committed everything to an attack. I buried myself and hoped for the best. We were only two and a half laps in and I was planning on riding a solo time trial to finish; yikes. After a lap, it was apparent my attack had stuck. I had at least 15 seconds on the chasing Jason Siegle/Brandon Gritters Duo and was extending my lead. After another 2 laps, I had 20 seconds; my efforts were working. As I came through the start/finish, the lap counter displayed 4 to go. The race was just past the halfway point and I still felt strong. Corner after corner, I remained focused. I told myself to be smooth and stay relaxed. It appeared to be working. With 3.5 laps to go, I hit the flyover like every other lap and rounded the following corner. This time I didn’t handle the corner as suave. The front tire broke loose and I hit the ground. I quickly hopped on my bike and started drilling it. This conveniently occurred two corners before the pits. In the 5 seconds and few pedal strokes before the pits, everything seemed fine. The pit entrance came and went. I hit the straight hammering. Turned out my bike wasn’t fine; the derailleur was stuck in the 11t cog. I limped the bike around the course for the next ¾ of the lap. Each corner, I was extremely slooow, I had no acceleration. By the time I made it to the pits and onto my other bike, my lead had diminished to a mere 8 seconds. Gritters knew I was wounded and he jumped at the opportunity. He began to close the gap and yelled “I’m coming for you Jackson!”; my cushioned 20 second lead was a distant memory. We stayed about even through half a lap until I hit the stairs. On the remount I missed my bike and by the time I remounted Brandon was there. My lead was gone and the race to the finish was back on. Once he caught me, we both slowed in an attempt to recover. Jason Siegle was charging hard and only 15 seconds back. Brandon and I continued to play games for the next lap; I didn’t want to get sucked in and used as I was in the previous race. With 1.5 to go Siegle caught us. Just then, Brandon flatted through the wood chips. As I was in the lead, I made an attack and had a gap of at least 5 seconds. I had an advantage with only one to go; perfect. All of a sudden, my rear tire began to bottom out and fold in the turns; I too had a flat. I nursed it back to the pits and after a quick bike change Siegle had taken the lead. I was on his wheel and still very comfortable with the situation. I followed him through the remaining lap and rested. I knew it would come down to a sprint. I knew it was a long straight and I thought he would make for a great lead out. 3 corners to go, 2 to go, into the final turn we went. I tried to carry as much speed as I could out of the corner to get a jump on the sprint. If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, I carried too much speed, went too wide, and dabbed a foot. He had at least 20 yards on me and the race was over. For the second weekend in a row, I was in striking distance through the last corner and lost it. At least this week it was my doing. It was a frustrating loss, but one I will learn from. Anton Petrov finished 3rd just ahead of Brandon Gritters. It was strong showing for Felt Bicycles as Felt athletes went 1-2-3 in the Elite male, Carolin Schiff won the Elite female, and Tyler Schwartz nabbed the Junior win. The series heads to Camarillo next weekend for round 3 of the SoCal Cross Series. I will be absent from round 3 as Team Castex Racing p/b Felt will head to Colorado to duke it out in USGP Ft. Collins. I look forward to seeing everyone at Spooky Cross for some UCI action!
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