2014 CXLA, Day One: Katerina Nash

Since the beginning of the cyclocross season around here, some two months ago, I have been noting the mastery of Amanda Nauman over her competition. Each weekend she has raced in SoCal, she has ridden her closest rivals right off her wheel. Each time the Elite Women have lined up, the ending has been something like a foregone conclusion.

So then, what are we to make of the victory by Katerina Nash in the Elite Women's race at today's CXLA?

Nash's win was one of absolute conquest. Her race combined sure handling with sheer power and allowed her to finish a nearly comfortable minute up on 2nd placed Amanda Miller, with Courtenay McFadden a full minute further back. Nicole Duke and Emily Kachorek rounded out the podium. It was a strong field, and a tough, challenging, course, and Nash owned both.

Katerina Nash

Coming in for bacon

never mind the racing - the Great CXLA stare-down

double rooster-tail in the sand by Brannan Fix (Boo Bicycles/Training Peaks) who would finish second in the U23 race behind Liam Dunn (Clif Bar Development Team)

The CXLA weekend has become a big deal, probably the biggest on the SoCal cyclocross calendar. UCI sanctioning brings added prestige, as well as points, and thus the field of competitors includes a greater percentage of higher calibre racers who come in from all across the country. It was cool to notice so many people from NorCal who travelled down to challenge the southland's best. And that, though I can't pinpoint the reason why, brings me to the topic of bacon and why anyone would think it a good idea to hold little strips of greasy pork (actually, I think it was turkey) out to the maws of passing cyclists. Would you hand feed raw steak to a hungry lion? A MilkBone to a strange pit bull? Not likely. Bacon to an energy-starved cyclocross racer would seem to fall into the same category. Well, I never saw either of the brave souls (or would that be foolish souls) at the medic tent having fingers sewn back into place, so I guess everything worked out.

A couple days ago I mentioned that riders should expect an abundance of tight and twisting turns, likening the course to the slithering locks of Medusa. If anything, that may have been an understatement. As I look back through the photos from the day, and notice all the blood at knees and elbows, it is clear that many riders hit the deck in those turns. The medic tent was kept busy from high noon to sunset with minor cleaning and bandaging. Tight turns and a loose surface took people off their bikes in other ways as well. In most cases it took but a single pass before riders realized the quicker way around was to dismount and run.

Access the Flickr album here. In it you will find one hundred thirty-one photos, most of them shots of individual racers this time.

By the way, if anyone found my little, beat up Irish flag and wants to return it to me next race, I'll give you a copy of the 2013 Seasons In the Sun yearbook.