Morka wins a wintery Sagebrush Safari

The Cleveland Mountains in Southern California got a startling dose of winter on Saturday that left up to six inches of snow on the Sagebrush Safari course. Due to considerations for rider safety, the entire 24-mile course had to be scrapped only a couple of hours before the event. Team Big Bear, the country's most experienced mountain bike race organizer, remarkably created a new 5.5-mile course at a lower elevation, and then started the event with only a 60-minute delay in the intended schedule.

Adam Morka (Trek Canada) took advantage of the wintery conditions to take his first US Cup win by over a one-minute margin. Dana Weber (Trek) finished second followed just 12 seconds later by Vincent Lombardi who took third. Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete) rolled in fourth just five seconds ahead of Ben Bostrum who took fifth.

The hastily organized new course started with a three-quarter-mile long fire road before riders faced a knee-high water crossing. Since nobody had a chance to pre-ride the new course, it was unknown if the crossing was rideable. It turned out to be so, but quite a few riders chose to run across the deep water rather than take the chance of crashing into the stream.

Racers were then treated to some mildly downhill singletrack before heading south onto some rolling fire roads that led back to the start finish. Along the way many sections of road were flooded and often riders had only one obvious route across.

The original course included about 3,500 feet of climbing while the new course most likely only had a few hundred feet. The race advantage went from the climbers to those riders with the fitness and power to ride a flat course. Dana Weber said later, "There was probably only 10 seconds of rest on the entire course."

The elite men started down the first fire road in a pack of at least 20 riders. Morka could be seen on the front, closely shadowed by Manny Prado (Sho-Air Specialized), the Costa Rican national champion, who was considered the race favorite based on last year's results.

When asked about his race strategy, Morka said, "I had a feeling there would be a lot of traffic given the amount of starters and the nature of the course. Hitting the water crossing first was the key for sure. We had inspected it right before the start - so I just pinned it a hoped for the best and not to go over the bars."

Because of a staggered start that eventually had all race categories on the course at the same time, the elite racers quickly found they had to deal with lapped traffic, including some very young racers who were moving slowly.

"I was hoping to get mixed in with the other racers," said Morka. "I knew that weaving in and out of the other racers by myself was an advantage since I was being chased by a group of four or five."

Weber managed to keep the race close for a while. "I was riding with Adam for two thirds of the first lap and he was going a little stronger - so I had to consciously let him go."

"I'm happy. I prefer the more technical course to what we rode today but given the conditions, they probably made the right call."

Race favorite Manny Prado had just flown in from balmy Costa Rica. Despite wearing winter gloves, his wet hands were so frozen that he crashed at least four times. He said his hands would just slip off the handlebars. At the finish, he was in a great deal of discomfort as his team tried to remove his wet shoes and clothing.

Rebecca Tomaszewski won the elite women's race. She was nearly two minutes ahead of the next closest female finisher. "It was more like a cyclo-cross race, but it was definitely a lot of fun," said Tomaszewski.

"Being out here (in San Diego), there are not a lot of opportunities to get into the mud, so I totally appreciated that."

Most of the top racers will compete next at the Bonelli Springs US Pro XCT race on March 12 near Ontario, California.

Full Results

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Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Adam Morka (Trek Canada)1:14:07
2Dana Weber (Trek/World Bicycle Relief)0:01:05
3Vincent Lombardi (Sho-Air/Sonance)0:01:17
4Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:01:44
5Ben Bostrom (Sho-Air/Specialized)0:01:48
6Manuel Prado (Shoair/Specilaized)0:04:35
7Doug Andrews (Rock N Road)0:04:37
8Romolo Forcino (Chains Required Bike)0:04:39
9Miguel Valadez0:04:50
10John Nobil (Bear Valley Bikes)0:06:48
11Alex Boone (Trek 29Er Crew)0:06:49
12Sean Donovan (KHS/Cytomax)0:07:10
13Danny Munoz (Sho-Air/Sonnance)0:07:48
14Paul Friewald (Pivot)0:09:49
15Brad Wilhelm (Trek Bontrager)0:10:10
16Derek Hermon (Bear Valley Bikes)0:10:32
17Carson Worts (Ritchey/Nova)0:16:49
18Chris Heinrich (The Path Bike Shop)0:18:01
19Greg Alexander (Cal Coast)0:37:19
DNFRobert Herber (Dixon Bikes)Row 19 - Cell 2
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Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rebecca Tomaszewski (Niner/Stans/Ergon)1:15:02
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Cat. 1 singlespeed men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brad Stephenson1:21:26
2Timothy Sparks0:03:11
3Allan Laframboise0:03:44
4Kurt Gensheimer0:06:54
5Paul Lorusso0:08:47
6John Swanguen0:09:32
7Mark Scheetz0:09:42
8Coley King0:10:03
9Keith Newsome0:11:16
10Ryan Holdorf0:12:44
11David Hekel0:13:56
12Eric Bradley0:13:58
13Chris Guillamondegui0:19:19
14Alan Jacoby0:19:20
15Jason Butler0:29:44
DNFJosh OskinsRow 15 - Cell 2
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Open women singlespeed
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dorothy Wong1:23:41
1Kathryn Lapointe1:34:45
3Rachelle Suarez0:12:53
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Cat. 1 junior men 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Keegan Swenson1:00:07
2Cody Phillips0:04:57
3Ryan Odle0:09:12
4Casey Williams0:09:14
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Cat. 1 junior men 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Shane Skelton1:06:29
2Jarred Jordan0:07:53
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Cat. 1 men 19-24
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chris Jackson1:21:25
2Vu Le0:03:21
3Marek Mitchell0:08:32
4Alex Wild0:16:04
5Brian Crooks0:30:13
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Cat. 1 men 25-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eric Colton1:23:33
2Scott Moore0:00:37
3Barret Fishner0:00:48
4Seth Gillham0:01:51
DNFAra MovsessianRow 4 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 men 30-34
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marco Arocha1:18:42
2Paul Sheppard0:10:43
3Alfredo Marquez0:11:36
4Allen Lin0:13:26
5Stephen Marshall0:16:50
6Alvin Chen0:20:12
DNFJens RazRow 6 - Cell 2
DNFTy KadyRow 7 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 men 35-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eric Bostrom1:19:05
2Bryan Taylor0:01:36
3Ben Jones0:01:37
4Ryan Cox0:02:23
5Robert Snyder0:04:15
6Justin Mann0:05:00
7Chris Kasey0:05:36
8Daniel Perez0:05:55
9Stuart Gonzalez0:06:22
10Chad Walton0:10:39
11Fabrice Gallez0:13:07
12Adam Hart0:13:55
13Rene Pulido0:15:07
14Javier Vega0:17:45
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Cat. 1 men 40-44
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Terry Crouse1:22:31
2Alex Ter-Vrugt0:00:21
3Tom Andrews0:01:39
4Todd Booth0:01:39
5Tom Koerner0:05:39
6Brendan Shepherd0:06:06
7Brian Dickey0:07:36
8John Umale0:08:59
9Steve Boyd0:12:25
10Sean Smith0:15:08
DNFJohn SaliamonasRow 10 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 men 45-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Todd Stephenson1:20:12
2Tim Zandbergen0:00:23
3Daryl Mckenzie0:02:13
4Alex Teno0:04:40
5Richard Kim0:09:03
6Bill Mosher0:10:11
7Greg Carlton0:10:33
8Erik Trogden0:15:56
DNFBud DonatoniRow 8 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 men 50-54
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Biron1:05:15
2David Sullivan0:00:05
3Francisco Vidal0:00:51
4Keith Koller0:01:54
5Robert Rodgers0:07:50
6Tom Gabehart0:07:55
7Randy Liechty0:09:04
8Stu Thomsen0:11:49
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Cat. 1 men 55-59
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jon Miller1:08:02
2Michael Hines0:02:05
3Gary Strabala0:04:14
4Don Jackson0:08:40
5Ben Eisley0:16:28
DNFJorge HernandezRow 5 - Cell 2
DNFDean SwankRow 6 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 men 60-64
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Richard Manzella1:13:23
2Bob Blatner0:06:55
3Eric Storm0:14:42
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Cat. 1 men 65-69
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Stan Ford1:16:47
2Roger Sexton0:17:01
3Russ Fay0:27:01
4Brian Kiniry0:29:41
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Cat. 1 men 70+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ron Riley1:32:09
2Buz Brockway0:04:12
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Cat. 1 junior women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexis Ryan1:18:19
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Cat. 1 women 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lauren Gregg1:26:13
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Cat. 1 women 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Melissa Liebling1:16:58
1Vanessa Humic1:28:41
2Cynthia Miranda0:03:35
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Cat. 1 women 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christina Probert-Turner1:18:51
2Laura Knight0:00:52
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Cat. 1 women 50+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Janet Rials1:42:45
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Cat. 2 singlespeed men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David Grant1:12:53
2Brett Elford0:01:02
3James Ransweiler0:02:20
4Charlie Stone0:03:43
5Tony Barghini0:04:56
6Creed De Jager0:05:14
7Jeff Stanners0:06:50
8Adam Beckett0:08:08
9Jason Woodruff0:13:13
10Max Leonov0:17:21
11Alfredo Cabrera0:17:59
12Jason Chiodo0:18:41
DNFMichael CruzRow 12 - Cell 2
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Cat. 2 junior men 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christian Husband1:17:10
2Cole Avery0:01:31
3Evan Williams0:08:55
4Bo Knickman0:10:13
5Jacob Jordan0:22:01
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Cat. 2 junior men 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nickolous Schultz1:11:18
2Kenny Valdez0:05:13
3Devin Arenas0:12:23
4Aubrey Smentkowski0:13:27
5Josh Turner0:16:40
DNFBrandon KirkhamRow 5 - Cell 2
DNFGarrett GaitherRow 6 - Cell 2
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Cat. 1 junior men 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Edward Kronfli1:14:19
2Addison Hinrichs0:03:59
3Dallin Davidson0:13:41
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Cat. 2 men 19-24
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bradley Oneal1:10:29
2Kyle Ireton0:00:53
3Mason Miller0:04:14
4Timothy Heinrich0:05:25
5Jonathan Medina0:12:14
6Jacob Danchuk0:14:29
7Peter Pham0:21:37
8Will Raschke0:22:50
DNFAndrew JensenRow 8 - Cell 2
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Cat. 2 men 25-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chris Branson1:08:31
2Evan Kraus0:00:29
3Kenny Ormonde0:03:49
4Ray Snoke0:05:42
5David Banks0:05:53
6Christopher Woodruff0:07:45
7Quillan Trombley0:09:45
8David Rose0:19:02
9Cheyne Mckeever0:23:11
DNFAlan JacobyRow 9 - Cell 2
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Cat. 2 men 30-34
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1James Oneal1:06:23
2Kevin Mehrens0:03:58
3David Schwanbeck0:05:13
4Jose Laureanoramos0:05:54
5Josh Roy0:06:40
6Chris Erickson0:08:01
7Greg Branam0:10:06
8Michael Page0:10:10
9Diego Mendonca0:10:25
10Matthew Hunt0:11:09
11Anthony Probasco0:11:56
12Robert Medina0:13:45
13Sean Robman0:13:59
14David Sanderson0:21:04
15Jaon Kolb0:27:11
16Jay Kwan0:34:43
DNF+A281Chad HolcombRow 16 - Cell 2
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Cat. 2 men 35-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Terry Watkins1:09:30
2Bryan Brusick0:02:20
3Ryan Luce0:02:36
4Chris Wellbaum0:04:09
5Greg Ledesma0:04:16
6Michael Mongiello0:05:09
7Rob Styron0:06:50
8Michael Farkas0:07:42
9Chad Haynes0:08:15
10Ryan Damato0:08:27
11Joe Hockensmith0:08:31
12Derek Oldfield0:09:08
13Dan Acosta0:10:04
14Tim Vangilder0:11:10
15Nick Gualtieri0:12:26
16Nicholas Snider0:12:47
17Richard La China0:15:50
18Christopher Williams0:18:35
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Cat. 2 men 40-44
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Len Geiger1:07:47
2Clinton Campbell0:00:41
3Elmo Kassin0:06:37
4John Vandevelde0:06:43
5Anthony Geist0:06:55
6Alex Tasch0:10:03
7Mike Henderson0:10:47
8Ryan Campbell0:13:34
9Todd Luman0:13:36
10Michael Dowdle0:15:35
11Norberto Oropez0:15:36
12David Jenkins0:30:27
DNFTroy RossRow 12 - Cell 2
DNFJose Vigil IiRow 13 - Cell 2
DNFJerry SandersRow 14 - Cell 2
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