Central Coast Classic, Monterey, CA
By Chris Spencer
Cover photo-courtesy of John Taylor
“Five, four, three, two, one and GO!” yelled NorCal Director Vanessa Hauswald as she started the Central Coast Classic Varsity Girls race at exactly 10:00 AM. The girls raced up the fire road and hit the single track, allowing everyone in attendance to breathe a collective sigh of relief; the race had not been cancelled, and in fact, it went off smoothly despite concerns about the ominous weather.
The Central Coast Classic venue located at the abandoned army training area of East Garrison has a very unique five-mile course. Riders describe it as a “dirt luge” or “dirt highway” because of it’s many banked turns and wide open sprint sections that make legs burn. Many placings were secured and lost on the 500 yard fire road climb two-thirds through the course. Over the previous week, the rain that had been drenching the Bay Area, Marin and Sacramento teams’ training rides had mostly missed the East Garrison of Fort Ord leaving it dry in some places, perfectly tacky in others, and a just a little muddy in its low lying sections
The hum of trainers and the clicking of gears signified riders warming up before each wave. Race-ready riders lined-up excited and focused, anticipating the all-out efforts to be expended at the start. On the course, every rider rode their own race, while simultaneously competing with the riders around them. As they crossed the finish, the colorful NorCal announcer, and the crowd of students, parents and coaches, could be heard celebrating the accomplishments of every racer, whether first or last.After riders finished their races they returned to the pitzone, a colorful tent city with riders recovering in camping chairs under piles of blankets. The team food in the pitzone was weather appropriate: chili, tuna melts, soups and sandwiches. Of course, hot chocolate was the preferred recovery drink.
In the afternoon we learned that Ned Overend of Specialized Bicycles was visiting the race. He gave a full interview heard from the finish line to the pitzone: “I went to Redwood High School. I won’t tell you when I graduated, but I raced cross country running back then. It would have been amazing if we had mountain bike racing at that time. To see this many kids out here and all the pop up tents that are bigger than the pits at the pro XCT race we have at nationals is amazing!”
“One thing I’ve noticed when I’ve been out walking around the course is I see a ton of kids encouraging kids who are passing them. There’s a ton of positive encouragement. That really speaks the whole philosophy of NICA and the Norcal League as they try to instill sportsmanship.”
The day ended with the award ceremony attended by over 400 spectators, coaches, riders and parents. As cars full of physically spent, happy racers pulled out of the parking lots, the only trace of weather that occurred earlier in the weekend was the crisp winter air and the scattered outline of snow on Mount Toro.
Varsity Girls Start -photo courtesy of John Taylor
1 Kate Courtney (Branson Bulls) 19.5 miles in 1:29:55
2 Shayna Powless (Independent)
3 Josie Nordrum (Redwood HS)
4 Mackinzie Stanley (Drake Pirates)
5 Sara Schneider (Spartans)
Kate Courtney (Branson Bulls) took her first victory of the season. For the first two laps, Courtney battled it out with Shayna Poweless (Independent) neither losing or gaining more than 10 seconds. At the decisive fire road climb on the third lap Courtney, mud splattered from sticking on Poweless’ wheel, tested Poweless with an explosive attack. Courtney rode away and secured the win. Poweless took second keeping her leader’s jersey. Josie Nordrum (Redwood) crossed the line two minutes later taking third.
Varsity Boys leaders wheel to wheel on single track -photo courtesy of John Taylor
1 Bryan Duke (Salinas) 24.5 miles in 1:35:02
2 Tobin Ortenblad (Independent)
3 Taylor Smith (Marin Catholic)
4 Skyler Taylor (Tamalpais)
5 Jacob Albrecht (Santa Cruz)
Varsity Boys leaders wheel to wheel on single track -photo courtesy of John Taylor Bryan Duke (Salinas), Tobin Ortenblad (Independent), Taylor Smith (Marin Catholic) and Skyler Taylor (Tamalpais) took an early lead and took turns pulling through the sometimes windy course. Jacob Albrecht (Santa Cruz Composite) who was just behind the pack had a little trouble at the beginning saying that the, “Race was pretty good. I had a mechanical and had to get off the bike and fix that. I got a little separated and ended up fifth?. The other riders were in sight, but took off after the 3rd lap. I kept close behind, but couldn’t break through the wind to catch the leaders.” It was a sprint for the win between Duke, Ortenblad and Smith. Duke describes the final minutes saying he, “Kept speed up around places where they might have passed. I started the sprint in first and had enough power to stay in front.”
Junior Varsity Girls
Annkika Hoy (Drake Pirates) grabs a bottle -photo courtesy of John Taylor
1 Sarah Ogden (Redwood) 14.5 miles in 1:16:15
2 Kaitlynn Elvidge (San Ramon Valley)
3 Zohe Slack (Albany Cougars)
4 Nicole McGovern (San Rafael)
5 Madison Giger (Salinas)
The decision to move up a category is not an easy one, but for Sarah Ogden (Redwood) her upgrading from Sophmore to Junior Varsity Girls was indisputably the right one. At Granite Bay, Ogden won the Sophmore girls category with a comfortable three-minute gap, upgraded to Junior Varsity Girls and won with an astounding four-minute gap. Ogden comments, ” I wasn’t thinking I was ready for it, but I had a lot of support from my coaches who knew I could do it?I like the longer races. I like the endurance races.” Ogden started mid-pack and set her sights on successful JV racer Amanda Winne (Woodcreek). Ogden held Amanda’s wheel after the first lap before gaining and keeping her first place position the next two laps. Behind Ogden were Kaitlynn Elvidge (San Ramon Valley), Zohe Slack (Albany Cougars), Nicole McGovern (San Rafael) and Madison Giger (Salinas) all finishing within an extremely competitive two and one-half minutes of each other.
A very notable rider in the JV girls’ field is Panida Aimprasertsuk (Nevada Union). She is from Bangkok, Thailand on a one-year exchange program. Aimprasertsuk joined the Nevada Union team after finding it listed as a school club. She had never mountain biked before her exchange program. Aimprasertsuk says, “I love how supportive my coaches and teammates are?mountain biking really fun, challenging and an adventure.”
Junior Varsity Boys D1
1 Ben Spurr (Marin Catholic) 19.5 miles in 1:15:47
2 Marcus Segedin (Redwood)
3 Sean Bennett (El Cerrito)
4 Silas Blunk (Independent)
5 Brett Maur (Trojans)
First and second place finishers Ben Spurr (Marin Catholic) and Marcus Segedin (Redwood) showed it’s not your position on the first lap that determines the race. Spurr says he, “Started off in 4th or so and moved up the ranks. By the last lap I took the lead and did my best to keep my place and sprinted hard at the finish. There was a little group dropping everything else.” Segedin enjoyed the course that he describes as, “Fast and the flowy burm sections are super fun.”
Also in the break away group were Sean Bennett (El Cerrito), Silas Blunk (Independent) and Brett Maur (Trojans). Ben Spur won the race and the leader’s jersey.
Junior Varsity Boys D2
1 Daniel Hall (Spartans) 19.5 miles in 1:35:02
2 Aaron Albor (Spartans)
3 Kyle Heuerman (Contra Costa)
4 Mark Tingwald (Albany Cougars)
5 Collin Marcroft (Matadors)
The Spartans had a very strong race with three of their riders Daniel Hall, Aaron Albor and Carson Mote dominating the top 6. Hall took the win and the leader’s jersey by taking and keeping the lead after the first lap. Kyle Heurman (Contra Costa) and Mark Tingwald (Albany) traded places back and forth before Heuerman pulled away on the third lap. Tingwald moved into the top 5 which he attributes in part to his strong start, “I was third at the top of the first hill and kept passing riders from other fields.”
GBK Santa Cruz teamates Anbar Aizenman (left) and Geneva Burkhardt (right) crossing the finish
photo courtesy of Dietmar Burkhardt
1 Sydney Hold (Trojans) 9.5 miles in 0:51:38
2 Meredith Nunnink (Nevada Union)
3 Lauren Schulman (San Rafael)
4 Morgan Tardy (Redwood)
5 Rachel Anderson (Novato)
Sydney Hold (Trojans) had a very strong first race of her season taking the lead in the first lap and pedaling to a strong finish. Behind her, Meredith Nunnink (Nevada Union), Lauren Schulman (San Rafael), Morgan Tardy (Redwood) and Rachel Anderson (Novato) had a very close race finishing within a minute of each other. Nunnink’s second place was her highest placing in her two years of racing. She describes the race saying, “My start wasn’t very good putting me in eighth place. I made my move on the descent and passed six riders.” She confidently defended her second place position across the finish line. In the Nevada Union tent, the riders remarked of their indoor training regimen they’ll continue when they return home to eight inches of fresh snow.
Schulman will keep her leader’s jersey with a lead of 14 points over Nunnink going into race #3.
Sophmore Boys D1
Alex Ratcliff-Jones (Berkeley) -photo courtesy of John Taylor
1 Grady Polisson (Redwood) 14.5 miles in 1:04:17
2 Grey Goodin (Trojans)
3 Reid Gordon (Marin Catholic)
4 Nathan Tarry (Trojans)
5 Laird Grant (Tamalpais)
The race turned into a time trial as the top five riders separated in the first lap all chasing down Grady Polisson (Redwood). Polisson had his best placing of the season. His tip, “Get most of your speed out of turns. There weren’t a lot of places to pump, but the turns are your place for speed and momentum.”
Second place finisher Grey Goodin (Trojans) was also a fan of turns describing them as, “Fun, fast and smooth.” Goodin will share the leader’s jersey with Reid Gordon (Marin Catholic) at the Laguna Seca Grand Prix.
Sophomore Boys D2
1 Chance Tiner (Santa Cruz) 14.5 miles in 1:03:33
2 Tom Foxx (Santa Cruz)
3 Jonathan Van Patten (Spartans)
4 Ronny Swanger (Spartans)
5 Gabe McDonald (Placer Foothill)
This race turned into a team event with Santa Cruz Composite dominating with Chance Tiner and Tom Foxx taking first and second with one minute to spare. Foxx will keep his leader’s jersey going into the Laguna Seca Grand Prix next weekend. Spartan riders Jonathan Van Patten and Ronny Swanger finished with clocklike consistency in third and fourth, their same positions as Granite Bay. Swanger described Spartan teamwork, “We worked together, pushed the hills, and dropped the rest of group.”
Gabe McDonald (Placer Foothills) achieved his best result of season in fifth with a strong sprint finish. He described his favorite part of this race, “It was fun working with the other racers out there to get through the course.”
Freshman Boys D1
1 Otto Salmi (Branson Bulls) 9.5 miles in 0:43:07
2 Carson Benjamin (Drake Pirates)
3 John Feeney (Marin Catholic)
4 Kyle Petersen (GBK Santa Cruz)
5 Andrew Mchaney (Salinas)
Freshman Boys D1 had a very fast race with Otto Salmi (Branson) and Carson Benjamin (Drake) battling it out to the finish. Vying for third place were John Feeney (Marin Catholic) and Kyle Petersen (GBK Santa Cruz). At the finish, Feeney pulled ahead and took third place by two seconds. Benjamin will wear the leader’s jersey at the Laguna Seca Grand Prix.
Freshman Boys D2
1 Steffen Andersen (Aptos) 9.5 miles in 0:43:59
2 Bryce Lewis (Woodcreek)
3 Jason Pallavicini (Terra Linda)
4 Mitchell Pisciotta (SC Mountains)
5 Soren Andersen (Aptos)
Steffen Andersen (Aptos) lead the race with Bryce Lewis (Woodcreek) always on his tail. Andersen had secured the leaders jersey moving up from fourth at Granite Bay. Jason Pallavicini (Terra Linda) achieved his best placing, third, since starting racing in the NorCal League second place. His strategy, ” I held back and let others tire themselves out. I then passed a lot of people on the second lap chasing down 3rd place.”
Further back in the field, Patrick Burrell also from Terra Linda had a moment of panic when his bike broke while pre-riding. He went to the SRAM Neutral Support Tent and Mike’s Bikes lent him a brand new Specialized Epic. Burrell said, “The new bike gave me a lot of confidence.” He placed eighth, eleven positions up from his nineteenth placing at Granite Bay.
1 Madeline Ortenblad (Independent) 9.5 miles in 0:50:28
2 Ashley Albor (Spartans)
3 Allie Jo Stanley (Drake Pirates)
4 Marie-Claire Schillinger (Miramonte)
5 Sarah Rockwood (Miramonte Cycling)
Madeline Ortenblad (Independent) had a great race on her home course taking and keeping an early lead. Second and third place finishers Ashley Albor (Spartans) and Allie Jo Stanley (Drake Pirates) stayed close the whole race while fending off the Freshman girls powerhouse, Miramonte.Marie-Claire Schillinger (Miramonte) and Sarah Rockwood (Miramonte) have finished in the top 5 in their first two League races. Rockwood attributes part of their success to team tactics saying, “We were neck and neck trying to keep each other going. We try to use team tactics switching off and encouraging the other teammate to keep up.”
Top five freshman girls are very competitive all finishing within two minutes of each other while leaving a four-minute gap behind them and the field.