Ocala Cross Race Report
Stuff is happening too fast to keep up with it all, so I better get this written before I forget all the good stuff. Ocala Cross, promoted and sponsored by the fine folks at Brick City Cycles, was December 30, 2012, a day that dawned sunny but cold. When I arrived in Ocala, I checked the temperature and it was 37 degrees, and it’s been a while since I had to race in those temperatures. I put on pretty much all the clothes I had in the car, and walked over to register. That was done quickly enough, then I played grab-ass with Rick Bunnning and Keith Richards (352 Racing) and Drew Smith (Velo Brew) and of course Rich Dybdahl (Pure Racing) and probably a few more people for a bit, because we’re doods and that’s what we do. Soon enough it was time for the Cat 4 race, so I snapped a couple of pics of the start, and then headed over to my car to put on my kit.
As I headed out for some warm up/practice laps, I was struck immediately by how RAD the course was because it was pretty much FLAT but it had a lot of OFF-CAMBER as well as some short steep DROPS and CLIMBS and a sweet RUN UP that wasn’t too long and a STAIRCASE and some MINI-BARRIERS and I’m probably getting ahead of myself because just remembering it all makes me EXCITE. A great course design that Todd Frobish and crew threw together literally the week before the event, after the city of Ocala got cold feet and changed their mind on the original location. Todd didn’t freak out, he called up the local YMCA and they were cool so he laid out a superbly fast, fun, challenging course.
The start finish was followed by a sweet lump of terrain that you could get boosty on without a great deal of effort, which then led into a fast series of switchbacks on grass that was fast enough to let you carry gobs of speed, but grippy enough that traction was never an issue. Finally, a hairpin led to the first steep drop, which was followed by an equally angled climb, a 180, and a drop, a 180 immediately, and then a mini barrier that forced you to run back up the bank. A long, un-even gentle 180 led down to a small mud pit and an awkward climb back up to the field level, a long straightaway into the wind, and then the barriers. These led to a couple of short straights, a 180, and a super nasty section of VERY exposed roots that had one not very obvious line thru it, followed by some slightly off camber, a few fast corners, the mini barriers, and then a corner around a tree with a huge root blocking the apex. Then there was a choose your own adventure with a slow but safe line or a technical, rooty line in a sort of tunnel between a few trees and bushes- the rooty line was faster. Then a nasty false flat, a 180, some wicked off camber, a 180, back down the false flat, a dive down and up and around and back down, a blast up and down a bank, a long curve, and then the run up the staircase. After the remount, a bit of sidewalk, a 180 on dirt that was loose but developed a nice rut by the Pro12 race, a loop around a soccer field, a 180, and the finish line. All in all, it’s a course that is technical enough to require some bike handling, but fast enough to reward the power guys too.
They made Josh Lehmann (Boston Bicycle School/Pure Cycles) race in the threes, because USA CYCLING, so you probably know what happened- they said go, and Josh went, and pretty much gapped us by the first run up. The real surprise was I was sitting third at the first run up, leading to Drew Smith heckling me from the back “Have you been training, Gob?”, and rubbing elbows with Dybdahl. I lost a position or two on the flats leading into the barriers, and lost a bunch more when I completely missed my seat on the remount and hit the floor. Naturally, Dybdahl’s wife got it on camera.
Dybdahl and his wife are jerks.
So I passed a couple people back when I ran the roots while they all lined up and bounced slowly over the roots on the outside, but meanwhile, Josh was just flying, with Brent Bell (Compass Cycling) and Jerkface Dybdahl chasing at a distance. On the last lap, Josh would lap me, but he was stopped before the line by the 352 guys and forced to do pushups, so I had to stop too so I wouldn’t unlap myself and have to go around again. In the end, it was Josh, Brent, and Rich in that order in the 3’s, Steve Noble (Infinity) besting Robert Reineke (AAA) in 45 plus, and John Torrey (Springfield, MA), Paul Schwarz (ORC), and Michael Cooper (Unattached) in 55 plus.
In the 4’s it was another Pure Cycles ringer, Mark Pettengill taking the win, followed by Anthony Hutton (Cycle Logic) and Rob Hennion (Brick City?). In Single Speed, noted Canadian Keith Richards (352 Racing) took the win from Andrew Mills (Compass Cycling) and Rick Buning (352), although Bunning did take the holeshot, Naturally, I tweeted about it immediately.
— Gob Carlqvist (@GobCarlqvist) December 30, 2012
In the Pro12 race, what should have been a battle between Eric Stubbs (352) and a U23 from New Hampshire (Lehmann) turned into a battle between Stubbs and a U23 from Pennsylvania. Thomas Schubert (Amoroso’s Cycling) pressured Eric for a lap or two, but the elastic between the two riders began to inexorably stretch until Stubbs was irretrievably out of reach, although to Schubert’s credit he never gave up, and rode a strong race to finish second ahead of Mills. Mills rode a strong race, where has he been hiding himself all season? We hope to see him at states in Dade City…
All in all, it was a fantastic race, particularly for a first year event, major kudos go out to Todd Frobish, Brick City Bikes, and everyone else who helped out.
Complete results are located here.