2014 O'Melveny Cross: Thrills & Spills Start the Season

You know, often times at our local, SoCal, races I don't bother to stick around for the elites, the pro/1/2 races. They always feature as the grand finale, the last races of the day on the road. By the time they come onto the circuit I am hot, tired, and just want to go have a cold beer. I think most others feel the same way, because whatever crowds of spectators may have been out earlier in the day have dramatically thinned by late afternoon. So at Saturday's O'Melveny Cross I was pretty enthused to see that the Elite categories would be racing more towards the middle of the day. Both the men, and the women.

The men's race, in particular was a good one - a terrific slugfest between five, six, seven riders throughout the duration of the race. It was great, it kept everyone guessing who was the strongest, who would outlast the rest. The fact that there wasn't a standout, superstar in the field who could dominate the race, or decimate the field, which ever time-worn cliche you like, made the race all the more exciting. There was just no way to know who would come out on top until the very end. When all is said, when all the sweat and blood has been left out along the course, there is only one though, and today that proved to be Jules Bourdevaire (Team Blackstar / Rock 'n Road). Over on the women's side, the outcome was a little more clearcut, a little more sure, as Amanda Nauman (SDG / Bellweather p/b Krema Peanuts) continued here winning way from where she left off last season.

Truth be known, I was expecting a little more from the season kickoff - a little more course (was there even a sand pit?), a little more crowd. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of excitement and the racing was good; it all just seemed a bit lower key than in years' past. Never-the-less, if Saturday was any indication of how the season will play out, the racing action in Southern California over the last three months of the year is going to be terrific.

Some of you may have seen me pushing the rebuilt Ibis Hakkalugi around. Yes, I did manage to get it finished on Friday, or at least rideable, but not raceable. It still needs a front derailleur (the clamp for the one I have is too small), but it was rideable as a 1x10. There was no time for adjustments, no time to dial it in, no time to test it out, and I don't think anyone would have wanted to be on the course with me under those conditions. You'll have to put off heckling me until next weekend. Slainte, and check out the Flickr album here.

The hecklers ramped it up early again. Lets see if they can keep it up through the season.

Should she so choose, this little gal has a bright future in cyclocross. Quite a motor turning those pedals. She pulled away from the competition, on their short course. Until they reached the barriers, that is. Just couldn't quite lift that bike over them.

Racers along yon distant hillside, beneath the spreading oak trees.

Very minimal run up today, and while quite a few riders chose to bunny hop them, only one guy tried to take both at a single leap. The result was acrobatic.

Team Blackstar / Rock 'n Road were riding super strong, and had two or three riders in that front group. Jules Bourdevaire from the team took home the victory (the rider pictured here is not Jules).

The agony of defeat rang no truer than today. Did anyone watching not feel it. This rider was in contention all day, and was riding stronger at the end of the Elite men's race. Saying that he was going toe to toe, or shoulder to shoulder at times is no literary embellishment (if you check the Flickr set you will see what I mean. Coming in to the finish, the sprint up the paved drag, he went down hard. I didn't see it, but the inevitable crashing sounds and the crowd reaction said it all.