Tampa Riverfront CX Day 1 Race Report
Saturday dawned bright and early and not horrendously humid, which was a welcome change from the race three weeks ago, when it was hotter than the sun but as humid as your average kitchen sponge. The Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park across the river from downtown Tampa provided a venue that with a few relatively simple changes could host a national caliber event- the course was that good. Course designers Mike Weimar (Orange State) and Jordan Miller (Velo Champ) did a great job of utilizing the unique terrain to its utmost to provide a course that was both technically challenging and lightning fast, with surprisingly few places to make a clean pass.
The Official Cross Copter Montage.
It started on grass with a long straightaway that went around some tennis courts, over some roots and onto the fake cobblestone sidewalks. There was a 90 degree corner on pavement that led into some grass straighaways and hairpins, a tiptoe along the top of a small (3 feet) ridge, and then meandered along some curves and onto a sidewalk along the water itself. A short staircase, some off camber curves up and down a huge mound, and back down the sidewalk. There was some roots and dirt and a section of side walk with faults and cracks and uplifted section that caused the air to go out of several unwary rider’s tires. Then a rideable run-up, a sweeping long offcamber that finally dumped out onto a rock hard baseball diamond for a tight complex of corners. A fun section of swoops up and down another little ridge led to a hairpin and the Floridabicyclelaw.com barriers. Then, yet another off camber straightaway into a tricky hairpin with a small drop-off at the entrance, a long, sweeping esse turn that shot you up a small hillock and then down into the base of the volcano. Around the top and down the backside of the volcano for another fast, sweeping turn, a hairpin in pretty loose but not deep sand, and back around to climb the back of the volcano, drop down the front, a short stretch on pavement, and a hairpin around the Old Oak Tree (we really need to start getting more sponsors for course features) that finally led back to start finish. The preceding week of dry weather made it a hard packed, and even a bit dusty. While there was the volcano and the amphitheater “climbs”, it was otherwise pretty flat, fast, and thought-provoking course. Fantastic course.
Here’s the Cat 4/5 men and Cat 4 women from Jay Fratello’s Go Pro, in case you find my description lacking.
The first race of the day got off almost an hour late, due to the wooden stakes taking longer to hammer into the ground than was planned, but to be honest the wooden stakes do look better than the plastic stakes and they are biodegradable. So they have that going for them, which, as we all know, is nice. A big masters field was pretty patient with the delay, and when they finally went off, Zach Fout (Gearlink), Jack Rich, and Steve Mace went to the front and drilled it. Zach got a gap pretty quickly, but Jack waited patiently for Zach to begin to feel the lactic acid building up, and when the Zach popped, Jack pounced, and that was that for the drama. Steve Mace was blazing along in third, but could never close it down, and they finished Jack, Zach, Steve. In the 45’s, Steve Noble (Infinity) had to battle with a bunch of roadies and/or recent CX converts, and in the end Vitore Alexandre (Colavita) proved the fastest, followed by Steve and Pablo Santa Cruz (Florida Velo). In the 55’s, State Champion Dan Sullivan (West Coast Cycling) took the win ahead of Brad Scott and Gordon Myhre.
The Pro 12 Open field would provide the long-awaited battle between Josh Thornton (Pioneer Mortgage PB Yourkey.com) and Ryan Woodall (Team Top Gear). Jason Guillen (Gear Link) and Michael Danish (Rose Bandits) rounded out the field. Josh is clearly on raging form right now, form so good that he should take it out of state and beat up on some other kids. Ryan is clearly still coming back from a recent injury, because it wasn’t much of a battle. Much like Josh did last week at the state crit championship, he simply rode away from everyone. Josh was your winner, followed by Ryan, who was still fast enough to stay away from Jason and then Michael.
Category 4/5 Men and first timers went off with the Category 4 women, and this was another huge field, as you can see from the video above. Thirteen year old Mike Mace (First Place Racing) has a 4 on his CX licence, but only because of a lack of starts, because in spite of the fact that I warned the entire field on the start line what was about to happen to them, he took off like a scalded cat and just disappeared. Mike’s pretty fast on his MTB, so his success shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Second and third place were riders on one-day liscences Billy Finley and Joe Gilman, respectively. In the Cat 4 Women, Jennifer Kraatz was your winner over Melissa Isenman (Infinity Racing) and Erica Richards (Orange State).
The Women 123 Open race saw the return of Laura Parsons (Rose Bandits) to FLCX, and I think she might have been a little peeved with being left off the Superrookie’s Power Rankings last week. Laura unleashed her fury and finished third overall in the wave, beating all of her female competitors and all but two of the Male Cat 3’s. She was followed by the consistently riding (and beer-drinking) Kristen Apotsos (Infinity Racing) and feline enthusiast Amy Plotkin (Rose Bandits.) In the men’s race, we had a pretty good dogfight with Bob Croslin (Orange State) and Taylor Norton (Orange State/Flying Fish Bikes) duking it out at the front. It went back and forth a few times, but Taylor ended up on the top step, with Bob trailing. Dave Horst (Orange State) was third, to complete the Orange State podium sweep.
In the last race of the day, a decent Junior field toed the line with a small field of Single Speeders, which was surprising, since the SS guys were racing for a bottle of Bulleit 10 year old bourbon. There were no 15-18 juniors, but there were 9 10-14’s so there is hope for the future there. Ryan Woodall took off for the single speed holeshot with Michael Mace in the Junior category, and they chased each other around for a few laps, and at the end of 30 minutes, they were the winners. Harrison Knight and Ava Sykes rounded out the Junior podium, and Michael Toth and Ben Pridgeon rounded out the SS podium.
All in all, we were able to make up for the late start of the first race so the last race started more or less on time, which made the day not as much of an endless ordeal as it could have. The course was so much fun, the turnout was great (89 unique riders), the riders were stoked.