UCC/JW Floors Race Report for California Mountain Bike Series Round #1 at Vail Lake
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in round 1 of the California Mountain Bike series. This is the premier race series in southern California with 7 races and 5 different venues. Two of the rounds are UCI sponsored events attended by elite level pros. Round 1 was held at Vail Lake in Temecula on March 2. There was quite a bit of rain coming down in the hours before the event with a forecast for rain throughout the day. This particular venue has a history of being wet and damaging to equipment, but many from the UCC/JW Floors team adopted the approach that if you don’t show up you can’t win! Fortunately for all racers, the rain stopped about two hours before the event and didn’t start up again until the awards were presented.
We competed on a shortened course of about 5.5 miles with about 600 ft of elevation gain per lap. The team was again a dominant force, winning 3 first places, 3 2nd places, and 3 3rd places. In total, 12 from our team competed. Team results summary is as follows:
45-49 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Pepe Velez and 3rd place Bryan Taylor
50-54 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Jeff Jacobson and 2nd place Steve Boyd
55-59 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 3th place Jack Kairy
60-64 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Ken Winston and 2nd place Randy Liechty
40-49 Endurance men – 2nd place Pascal Bonaventure and 3rd place Justin Rivers
19-39 Cat 1 Cross Country women – 4th place Monica Taylor
Here is an individual race report from Steve Boyd (Cat 1, 50-54 Cross Country):
I lined up at the Vail Lake CA Cup race with Jeff Jacobson (JJ) and 6 others in our class. The race started at a pretty quick pace, and JJ and I settled into 3rd and 4th place letting a couple guys set the pace. We had three 5.5 mile laps to go (shortened due to rain and course conditions), so I wanted to sit back and see what pace would be sustained. By about 1/3rd the way through the 1st lap we had picked up an endurance racer and dropped everyone else in our class. We all held our positions for the 1st full lap, which was going at a fast pace, but not a redline pace. JJ and I talked strategy to let these guys lead as long as they would, but then attack on the 3rd lap for sure. At the start of the 2nd lap and just before a sustained climb I moved into 2nd place as that guy was slowing. Then the leader pulled off and looked back wanting someone else to lead. JJ and I then pulled around, and I think a little unconsciously, turned it up a notch. We traded positions pulling up the 1st climb and by the top it was just us two and our endurance friend. We had a 15 second gap on 3rd place now. As we rounded into the final lap our endurance friend went to the front and really turned the screws picking up the pace. This helped gap the field behind more but put me a little over the top. I was a little cooked the last 1/3rd of the lap so JJ pulled a gap on me, and my concern then became not being caught by anyone. I knew where Alex Teno of Stonehaus Trek was behind, so I kept my pace high to finish in 2nd with a 26 second gap to 3rd. JJ took a great win!
Here is a race report from Ken Winston (Cat 1 60-64 Cross Country)
Going into this race I figured my toughest competition would be from my own teammate Randy Liechty. We have raced together several times over the years and frankly, he almost always schools me, especially at the XC distance. At the start I decided to try to get out front to set a fast pace and see if Randy and I could get away. Well, that is what happened. I found myself leading up the tunnel of love shallow climb which is about 6 minutes long, so a nice VO2 max kind of effort. The soil was spongy from all the rain and a noticeable drag on the bike. With me came my teammate Randy and Robert Gelfand from Team Redlands. The rest of the field was dropped. It was a difficult effort into a moderate headwind but I felt good. I gained confidence when I backed off slightly but no one came around me. As we approached the top of the climb I accelerated and entered the best part of the course – the Tunnel of Love. This part of the course is a 2 and a half minute winding and undulating singletrack descent with several blind corners that can be taken very fast if you know the lines. After racing a few 12 hour events on this course, I can do the descent blindfolded. Near the top I wiggled past a rider from another class and pulled away from Randy and Robert, not to see them again. So the rest of my race was about putting my head down and setting consistent lap times. At the end I felt good enough to negative split the last lap. Randy finished in second. It was an honor to stand next to Randy on the podium!
A note about Randy’s equipment choice today. When the rain forecast went south, he brought his old hardtail instead of risking damage to his S-works Epic. The old hardtail happened to have downhill tires with deep tread blocks and he did not have time to change them out. Remember the spongy soil I mentioned? Those tires were a huge drag on his bike in those conditions, not to mention the heavy weight. Amazing he could pull off a podium finish considering!