Fort Ord (Norcal Race #1), 2016

It was a beautiful, rainy day in drought-stricken California’s Monterey-Salinas region, where the Lightfighters and Cowboys hosted the Northern California Southern Conference teams in the first of the 2016 season’s six races. Albany fielded a team of 10 girls and 12 boys, very likely the most balanced in the league!

In the end, the rain was very mild, and mainly served to spatter the Sophomore and Freshman boys with mud during their race. Bill (the announcer) commented that it was arranged to give the first-wave riders a way to wash off the mud.

That first wave of racers included Albany’s two Freshman, four Sophomore, and four JV girl racers.

Abby, our team captain, had an interesting ride, crashing in her second lap and losing a shoe! She searched all around the plants on the side of the trail before finding it…still attached to the pedal. It would be enough for most of us to just finish the race after that, but not for her. She made up for lost time and crossed the line in sixth position, just 17 seconds behind the last podium finisher. Go Abby!

Fellow JV rider and first-time racer Dylan crossed the line about 15 minutes later, and Claire completed the three-lap trek, clearly benefiting from the experience she gained at CCCX. Nice riding!

Sophomore Victoria burst out of the starting lineup like she was on fire, and led the Sophomore D1 contingent at least around the first corner, where us earthbound types lost sight of her for a few minutes. She kept a great pace on all through the race and ended up with a second-place finish in the category. Teammate Ella accompanied her on the D1 sophomore girls’ podium in a strong fifth. Albany sophomore girls ruled the podium!

April followed in a close 7th, with Bird just 1:08 behind her in 9th. Can you picture four Albany jerseys there later this season? After wrestling with technical trouble for part of her hour-long race, Nicole crossed the finish line with greasy hands to show Daniel. She wasn’t the only Albany rider with technical difficulties, a hazard any day, but worse in the rain and gritty sand of Fort Ord.

Our freshman girl riders included Alexa, who finished in 10th place, and Anjelou, who suffered a crash on her first season ride, but we are looking forward to seeing her back on the trail at Granite Bay in under two weeks.

Our second wave featured the sophomore boys, with Liam B. taking 7th, held back a bit with a technical issue we hope gets cleared up pronto, and six minutes later a cluster of four more Albany sophomores – Tyler, Justin, Liam T., and Armaan. Tristan finished the race with bigger technical troubles than Liam B., but will get to try another NorCal race in just two weeks in Folsom.

Freshman boys got off the starting block well, with Matthew finishing 13th for his group, eight minutes behind the D1 leader. Lucas and George also rode well in their first official race, and George showed true grit at the end – running for a mile and a half after his chain broke. Way to go!

Niko was more pumped than ever and raring to go, but couldn’t finish after his derailleur and hanger broke. Spencer and Zack both had very solid races in a hard category, finishing strong and happy and with only one racer between them.

Neither Giacomo nor Gabe could race in their groups at the Fort, but both made the trip and stayed to support the others. That’s team spirit!

Among adults in attendance, there are the usual suspects to thank, and some new faces around the tent. First-year parents are going above and beyond the call, helping organize and run the team’s kitchen, putting up and taking down tents (in all weather), and working at the feed zone, for example. Veteran parents haven’t been slacking off, either, and the non-parent volunteer coaches – including Jim Z, John, Andrew, Kym, and Marion & Jim, whose work both with our team and the league as course marshalls and/or race sweeps helped make the race day possible – chose to spend their free time and energy to support our Cougars. It all came together under Sally’s organization, and of course with the leadership of Robin and Daniel, who cheered on absolutely everyone (parents included).

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