2015 US Cup Round 2 / Kenda Cup West Round 3 / Fontana City Nationals

Man, I wish something could be done about the name of these races, I still never know what the heck to call them. But that is a story for another time.

What, a quarter mile into the race and the pro women's field is already stretched to a long thin line, and ready to snap. 

A familiar group of protagonists settled in, the tete de la course, and pounded out, sometimes finessed, a relentless pace for the duration of the race - Catharine Pendrel, Emily Batty, Georgia Gould, Chloe Woodruff, Katarina Nash, in that order here.

I have never been to Southridge USA for a race in which they were running what, some riders were affectionately calling "the waterfall", but between the Cat 1 XC races and the Pro Women XC race I got to watch a few racers taking practice runs for the Super D races starting later in the day. The drop and the low launch pads that follow at its base (apparently reserved for the pros only) are going to be entertaining, to say the least...

while warming up on the XC course, Katerina Nash (who would go on to win the XC race, by the way) took a turn onto the Super D course. Now, on any other day she may very well have given it a go but this time, when she got to the lip of the drop, she turned around. Having just witnessed another rider go over the bars during his attempt, I believe her choice was the wiser option.

Some Cat 1 action near the top of the mountain

Oh look, another dude with a camera taking our picture. Ha, ha, ha.
(Actually, I don't know what the joke between Erin Huck and Lea Davison was, but it looked like a good one).

The pro women's Cross Country (XC) race. The heat may not have been as oppressive, but the climbing was longer, steeper, rockier, as was the descent. It is the reason this weekends' US Cup / Kenda Cup West racing carries an hors categorie (above category) rating, a step above the rating of last weekends racing at Bonelli Park, and one reserved for the most difficult or challenging races. (Incidentally, when the US Cup returns to Bonelli in early April, it too will carry the hors categorie rating, the course being altered to add to its complexity.)

That is where the differences, mostly, ended. For the professional women, the primary protagonists remained, largely, the same - Katerina Nash, who would claim the victory today, Georgia Gould, Emily Batty, and Catherine Pendrel. Larissa Connors was a little further back a week on, while Erin Huck, Chloe Woodruff, Lea Davison, and Sandra Walter, a little further up.

For Emily Batty, who as you know won at Bonelli a week ago, it was an almost impossible task to repeat for a second weekend - she was odd woman out in the top four, each of the others racing for the Luna Pro Team. Three against one will not get you good odds anywhere. I wasn't in a place to witness where or when (although I can tell you it didn't occur until the final lap) Nash made her decisive move, I can tell you it was enough to finish ten seconds up, with Gould (2nd), Batty (3rd), Pendrel (4th), all finishing within a single second of one another. I doesn't get much better than that.

The Flickr album contains a selection of 126 photos from the Cat 1, Women Pro, with some Super D practice and random shots thrown in for good measure. The photos are not a complete catalog, but are representative of the nearly one thousand taken, so if you don't see what, or who, you were looking for in the album, let me know with a race number and I will see what I can find. If you see a photo you like, feel free to download it (credit where credit due, of course). You can also contact me via email and I will gladly send a full size jpeg file of the image.

Want more? Go ahead and order your own copy of the CLR Effect racing annual. There are two editions available right now (2013 and 2014), and you can preview them by clicking the 2014 Seasons in the Sun Book Preview button near the top of the right hand column, or under the title banner at the top of the page.