John "the cleaner" Camerino ("GO RANCHOOOOOS" implied) looked like a bad-ass hombre in the late afternoon sun. Had to get a picture of his competitive intensity before the running of the bulls to the first chicane.
The A category women's group included Dorothy Wong (2nd from the left) who is also the series director. One of my old racing buddies came up to me while I was about to photograph the women's group and said "That's Dorothy. I remember her. She was damn fast and won nearly everything back when I was racing." He was there to show his daughter what great athletes these women are and how they can be a role model for fitness. No joke, Dorothy. I think athletic women are incredibly good role models for young girls too.
I already mentioned the running of the bulls, so here's the partial weed-out after the first chicane. Corner 2 (pictured in first two photos below) was the first opportunity for slide-outs, crashes, and general mayhem. The corner was setup as a temporary gate to let the racers exit the start area with a wide track, then the fence was moved so it created two lanes. Racers seemed to behave themselves as much as testosterone allows. I'm not sure if the racer in the second photo is skidding out because he misjudged the turn, likes to make his competition eat dirt, or he saw the camera and thought that's his big opportunity in the spotlight. Any which way you look at it... testosterone. But in defense of the first suggestion, he's guy so it's not like he's going to stop and ask for directions.
The start-finish area features a table-top ramp, which makes for a great spectator location. It reminded me of my old days of BMX where I would made a non-intended attempt to put a new flat spot in my rim by overshooting the table-top landing just slightly. The table-top is about 8 feet high and a few of the braver racers even attempted to jump it.
A grand part of cyclocross racing is the wide open vistas through which the racing course takes place. That's Keith (GO RANCHOOOOS!) solo-ing his way back up the start-finish for his lung burning win. Kurt is also featured in the Cinerama wide screen photo below, but you have to click on the photo to see him charging the course. Unlike road racing, there's no hiding in the pack. Cyclocross is a off road time trial. You're out there alone most of the time.
What would a cyclocross race be without a sand trap or mud pit? After all, they even have those in old people civil sports like golf! In the first lap of the men's category A I wished I had turned around in time. Someone in the middle part of the pack got trapped and about a dozen other riders ploughed into him from behind. By the time I turned fully around they were in recovery mode and the picture opportunity was gone. That's photography.
Among the other obstacle apparatus assembled for this race was a set of stairs right after another sand trap. A few less experienced racers unsuccessfully attempted to ride up it earlier in the day, but with little back wheel traction it just wasn't going to happen. As the day went on and more experienced riders hit the course it was only top tube grab and run action. This is where you could really tell the competitors from the weekend warriors. The competitors would downshift, stick the landing, grab the bike with sand flying out beneath their feet, and jump back on after a few steps. The weekend warriors would come to stop, put down the kick sand, put on their cleat covers, disengage the kick stand, roll their tires up the steps, check for a flat, remove the cleat covers, check for dirt on the cleats, then remount and go. Well... maybe not quite like that, but there was a clear difference.
Here's an obligatory photo of Brent Prenzlow winning the men's A category. Let's move on to the fun stuff - prizes.
- First picture : Keith from the animal solo ride featured above.
- Second picture: I know this is California and all, but I think little "pint size" in the lower left might be slightly young to party with Rancho-mommy. This isn't France. (I kid, I kid - puns intended).
- Third picture: Can you tell this is an off road race. The roadies would be like, "that's too many calories. It might hurt my Palomar time." The off-roadies are more like, "hell's yeah, baby!"
- Fourth picture: The stack up of the top ten men's category A riders with two people I know; Philip Tinstman (Masi), whom I made a mountain biking documentary with and John Bailey (Bailey - far right) a former weekday riding partner back when I wasn't so fat from sitting in front of Photoshop.