“Racing has its ups and downs. That tireless proverb/cliche was elegantly illustrated the first weekend of December at Hart Memorial Park near Bakersfield, Calif., during the SPYclocross Series finals. This new six-event, USA Cycling-sanctioned, SPY Optic-backed series concluded on arguably the most challenging course on the SoCal cyclocross circuit. The highs and lows of the layout, along with a 1.5 point factor awarded on the final day, brought out the highs and lows of the human race experience.
The weather and course conditions could not have been better, following several showers during the week preceding the event. But that did little to tame the numerous steep pitches that force even the strongest to shoulder their bikes and grunt up the sod staircases. This was especially true of the daunting “Hammer Time Hill,” Hart Park’s signature feature. The only time ‘cross fans in this part of the world see anything like it is during European web feeds.
Amanda Nauman (SDG/Bellwether/Krema Peanut Butter) must have been spending her training time on a Stairmaster and practicing bike dismounts/remounts, because she dominated Women’s Elite both days. Nauman led from wire to wire on Saturday, and then on Sunday, with the course mostly reversed in direction, made it a double. Saturday’s runner-up, Nicole Brandt (LaGrange/Michelob Ultra), gave Nauman a bit of concern on day two with a better jump off the starting grid, but by the end of the first of four laps it was Nauman in front and pulling away once again.
Finishing quietly in third in Elite Women both days was the veteran Christina Probert-Turner (The TEAM SoCalCross/Turner Bikes). This super-consistent 43-year-old came into Hart Park leading in points, and that’s how she left it. Although she didn't win any of the events, she never finished lower than fourth either. Turner ended up with two championship jerseys, in fact, having captured the Women’s Singlespeed division as well.”
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