2013 Saturday SpookyCross

best seats in the house?

someone found some mud

clearing the barriers

spectators at the Pit of Doom

"we are poor little lambs who have lost our way, baa, baa, baa"
one of the Black Sheep Squadron takes a hit

jump to the photo link to see why this Mobbin' Monday rider 
collected so much dirt on his right side

everyone at the same time now: aahhhhhhh

the Saturday night sky was afire

demons rise from out of the Pit of Doom

singlespeeds through the sand

Another Autumn weekend, another dusty cyclocross course in Southern California. Simply standing in general proximity to the course guaranteed you would collect a fine coating of grit and grime. I tell you what though, that cloud of dust rising from the Fairplex created a heck of a stunning sunset in the evening. The LA County Fairgrounds is not my favorite place (for reasons I will explain in a future post). The horse track is a rather uninspiring place, being basically a big flat expanse of dirt, grass and concrete. Yes, the grass taps your strength and the dirt is tricky in its slippery way. It falls to the obstacles created by the Prestige Series guys to really turn the grounds into something interesting. The fly-over, double-barriers, sand, run-up, and tight turns add challenge on their own, but for SpookyCross weekend, something extra gets thrown in as well. Last year that something extra was the bmx-style berms; those were back again this year, though scaled down a bit. New this year was the Pit of Doom, a ten foot deep hole in the ground placed right before the run-up. For some, it added some trepidation the first time through, others took it in stride (literally) without missing a beat. The promised deep fog failed to settle into the pit; too bad, it would have really made the scene. The simple darkness which descended over the course for the last races of the evening/night was almost as good - racers descended into the pit from one side, and emerged as ghouls on the other. I had no desire to find out what caused the transformation down there.

There is plenty to be scared of at the Fairplex to begin with, from the ten dollar fee for parking to the scowls and commands of the parking lot staff (honestly, could they have been any more unfriendly), that the skulls and bones scattered around the course were unnecessary. Even at the Fairplex though, SpookyCross remains one of my favorite races of the year. It is a Monster Mash of a good time, an adrenaline-fueled party where you never know who will rise out of the graveyard, who will be dragged down by those skeleton arms reaching out of the sand, or what will happen to upset everyone's best laid plans. There were more than a few mishaps, some slide-outs and tumbles, some jammed chains, bruised and bleeding shins, twisted handlebars, stuff you might expect to see any weekend. For the most part the riders involved picked themselves back up, straightened out whatever was mangled, and carried on. Sometimes they were verbally flogged by teammates. Sometimes they picked up with grim determination, other times with a smile. Only once did a rider require extra assistance - medical staff, their stretcher and infield cart - and I hope things turn out better for her than they looked at the time.

I didn't check all the posted results, but can share the top-three from the day's premier races: In the Elite Men's race, Southern California cyclocross powers, the brothers Gritters - Brandon and Kyle (Blackstar/ Rock 'n' Road), finished 1st / 2nd respectively. Gareth Feldstein (Ritte CX) took 3rd spot. Alexis Ryan (The TEAM SoCalCross) finished tops in the Elite Women's race, ahead of Laura Winberry (Speedvagan) and Amanda Nauman (SDG/Felt). 

Click for the flickr set of 126 select photos.