SoCalCross Race Reports #3 and #4 – Vail Lake and Casa Pacifica

So Cal Cross Race #3
Vail Lake, Temecula
October 13, 2013
Who Raced – Nicole Brandt

So Cal Cross Race #4
Casa Pacifica, Camarillo
October 19, 2013
Who Raced – Nicole Brandt

Vail Lake, in Temecula (October 13)
I had my sights set on getting the holeshot, as there was a hard sandpit section about 150 meters after the start/finish, and I wanted to be able to take my own line into it. I got the holeshot, however, I almost went head-over-heels once I entered the deep sand.  Trying to recover from the near-crash, I found myself in fourth position and thinking I would just stay tucked in behind the leaders, as it was quite windy. As a result of the sandpit mishap, I began to think my front brake was possibly rubbing, but it was hard to tell, as the rub was not significant enough for me to feel a substantial difference when pedaling. Come to find out, my brake was indeed rubbing the entire race.
By the end of the second lap, the top three riders had established themselves from the rest of the field. Hannah Rae-Finchcamp was out front, Christina Probert-Turner was second, and I was chasing in third. I kept my pace consistent, slowly reeling in Christina; she was visibly much better than me through the deep sand section and she had more power going up the short climb, which was about 1/3 of the way through the lap. Finally, after a few laps of gaining ground on her, I was able to catch and pass her. During this time, Hannah was putting distance between us.
I knew I needed to create some distance between Christina and I, due to the fact that she was more comfortable in the sections that gave me the hardest time. I was able to slowly increase the seconds between us by concentrating on taking the corners smoothly and consistently, and going hard on the straight-a-ways.
I was unable to catch or make up time on Hannah, who finished with a sizeable lead. I was happy with my result – 2nd Place! Especially since my brake was rubbing. Lesson learned : I will make sure to use my pit bike if I have any doubts about a rubbing brake.

Casa Pacifica, in Camarillo (October 19)
The course was flat, fast and not overly technical, with a mix of dirt, grass, and soft sand. (also 1 barrier section and 1 run-up stair section). I took the lead early on the first lap, with Hannah Rae-Finchcamp (Luna Chix) on my wheel. Coming into a tight and technical bend, my front wheel caught in the soft sand and grinded me to a halt. As a result, Hannah ran into my rear wheel and our bikes became stuck together. In trying to untangle ourselves, five women quickly passed us, and once we were on our bikes again it was time to make up the time/places lost. Just a few minutes later, having caught back up to the lead riders, I wiped out going around a sharp and sandy turn. This sent me backwards again and having to chase. I proceeded to take myself out two more times during the race, in trying to push too fast around sandy corners – the race felt like a constant game of catch-up. Having had four mishaps during the race, I fought hard for third place but couldn’t quite hold onto it. I was only 7 seconds from third, 23 seconds from 2nd place and the leader was 40 seconds ahead.

Thanks for reading,
Nicole

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