2017 Beach to Boulders
For the fourth consecutive year Beach to Boulders at Lake Perris State Recreation Area has been the season kick-off race for the Southern California High School Cycling League. I had never been to the Lake Perris venue for a race, in fact had never been to Lake Perris for anything else, so I didn't really know what to expect. But since the lake is roughly in the same Inland area as Vail Lake I thought there might be some similarity. But no, not too much. Vail's technically challenging ups and downs, along a route full of twists and turns, is a contrast to the one long gradual climb and descent at Perris. It did not take long for me to realize the reason Lake Perris was given its spot on the calendar; it is a good place to acclimatize new, and returning, racers for what will come later in the season.
The grey, mostly doom-laden sky didn't really seem to have any negative bearing on the enthusiasm of the gathering. Indeed, the ground was as close to perfect for racing as you could hope for, the green covering the hillsides, and the broad plain stretching between hills and lake, was a seasonally fleeting treat, while the cooler temperature was probably preferable for most of the racers than the more typical heat. With everyone there providing loud vocal support for friends, family, teammates the enthusiasm was, as usual, infectious and wide spread.
The Freshmen races were underway when I arrived and I had to leave before the Varsity boys finished, so didn't even get to see the JVs who raced last of the day. If what I saw in between proves to be indicative, 2017 should be another exciting one from start to finish. As infrequently as I seem to be able to make it out to these races (regrettably the next probably will not be until the beginning of April), I never fail to be impressed by the strength, handling skills and, often, teamwork, camaraderie, and tactical savvy on display during the heat of competition.
As usual it was heartening to see so many athletes in general, from so many different schools, and from my two most local ones in particular - Claremont, of course, and Damien. Both the Wolfpack, and the Spartans, are continuing to grow and progress, gaining experience with each passing season. I won't be surprised to see some of the riders challenging for top spots in their respective divisions soon. Since races take place every other week, through to the state championships the second weekend in May, it is never too long (although it may seem like it to the racers) before the next opportunity to test against all challengers comes around again.
You'll find a selection of one hundred forty-six photos in the Flickr album.