Sunday’s race had some familiar features to it. First, we were at Fort Ord again, which is starting to feel like home! Second, we were racing in the rain again, which is good for California but bad for drivetrains. And last our riders showed determination and character, and mostly had fun.
Team captain Abby Shores and fellow Junior Dylan Kurzer-Ogul represented the Cougars in the girls’ JV category. Abby reportedly crashed in the first lap, and then entertained herself retaking the riders who had passed her when she was down. She finished an impressive seventh, and Dylan held her position in the field, seriously accelerating compared to the rocky trails at Granite Bay.
The sophomore girls’ contingent continues to impress. Victoria Pras surged up the starting hill in third place, but quickly took first and held it to the end, finishing with a margin of 32 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. In the exit chute, the three top sophomore finishers showed a lot of the spirit that makes mountain biking so appealing by congratulating each other. Fellow cougar Ella Lopez had yet another strong race, taking podium at fifth position, quickly followed by three more Albany riders – April Beall, Bird Hudson, and Nicole Hempel, all in the top nine positions in their category. Bird rode a good portion of the race with limited gears due to sand in the drivetrain, and Nicole defended her position with a sprint to the finish line.
Anjelou Parafina was our sole freshman girl rider this time, and improved yet again, finishing strong despite riding off the course and having to make up time. Great determination!
Sophomore boys again had mixed results, but showed the kind of grit and determination that account for their continued improvement over the course of the season. Liam Bishop, recovering from a cold, finished seventh, followed not long after by Tyler Chase in a strong ninth position. Justin Wong-Shea followed Tyler by a little for two laps, but late in the third had a major derailleur problem and carried his bike about a mile to the finish line. Anything to avoid that DNF! Liam Tegland and Armaan Khamenian rode strong to the finish despite Liam’s recent illness and Armaan’s injury at the Granite Bay pre-ride. It’s good to have them both back. Tristan kept at it this race, losing his chain seven times and somehow still enjoying the ride.
Freshman boys faced the same muddy course, and it showed in the toll on their bikes. Matthew Murphy again rode well, defending his 13th spot in the D1 category. George Simon came back after missing a race and battled his way through the course for 1:11:36. We’re as bummed as Lucas is that he couldn’t finish the race and hope his next ride is free of mechanical problems.
Our four JV riders hit the trail hard and came out looking strong. Alex Hempel turned in much faster laps than at Granite Bay despite the derailleur-destroying wet sand. Spencer Pras’s mechanical issues in the third lap set him back a few places. Zackery Gilberg crossed the line in 17th position, speeding up by two minutes on his final lap. Only half a minute ahead of him, in a crowd of finishers, Niko Lopez turned in a time of 1:20:43 at 14th, crossing the finish line Superman-style!
THE PIT CREW
Parents and volunteer coaches were spotted doing the following good deeds:
– Jose Lopez prepped bikes for the race.
– Carol Min, Jim and Marion Russel, Lonnie Wong, Linda Bishop, and Jim Zahradke were among the course marshalls, without whom no racing would have been allowed.
– Kitchen helpers included Linda Bishop, Ruth Parafina, Nicolas Wong-Shea, Lisa Yang, Anthony Murphy, and Alesia Alonso.
– Lisa Yang, Skyler Tegland, Heather Cunningham, David Whalen, Heidi Lopez, Ali Khamenian, Steve Shea, and Anthony Murphy were among those keeping the riders hydrated at the Feed Zone. Anyone left out has Steve’s apology. There were a lot of volunteers!
– Robin and Daniel were everywhere, supporting everyone.
– Set-up and break-down were communal events, and lots of people helped, but Alesia Alonso, Frederic Pras and Sally Basurto, Ruth Parafina, and Brian Bishop were among those contributing their efforts. Skyler Tegland and Steve Shea helped the League break down the Feed Zone and Speed Zone, which are a good workout if you’ve been standing around in the rain for a few hours instead of riding.
– Thanks to all the parents who brought food, drinks, energy supplements, utensils, bike tools, cameras and big smiles for the racers and each other. This is a great community to be a part of, and the pitch-in attitude so widespread has a lot to do with that.
– We owe a lot to our sponsors. Please think of them when you are looking for local services.