Brian Lopes hardly needs an introduction. He has been crowned a world champion four times, world cup champion six times and national champion nine times for DS/4X and/or DH mountain biking. He’s also won the Crankworx Air DH (video below) an impressive six times. In other words Lopes is known for this gravity-fueled mountain biking domination. Recently however, Lopes decided to throw himself into the skinny-tired pain locker and try his hands at cyclocross racing. Lopes competed in the California/Nevada District State Championship Cyclocross. And guess what? He won that too.
Here is Lopes’ account of the event:
This past weekend I took part in the California/Nevada District State Championship Cyclocross in Glendale California. With some rain the night before, the temp dropping and the wind picking up, I didn’t really know how the course would be, but it turned out to be dry and fast. A bit chilly for California standards and some headwinds that proved to keep any real breakaways from happing were maybe the only changes to some of the other races this year.
The race started similar to the others I have done this year, I got the holeshot, lead for at least half the first lap, then let some others take the lead to watch things unfold. A few times we had a small break of 3 or 4 of us, but then nobody wanted to keep the pace high into the headwinds, so a group of 4-5 would always latch back on. With 3 to go the group we had about 8 left in our group still and I told myself I wasn’t going to the front anymore until the last lap. On the bell lap I moved up into the 2nd position and planned my move. There was a steep short down with a U-turn at the bottom, then straight back up the steep hill and all race I felt much faster than the rest here and I figured nobody would expect a move up this hill as most were creeping just to make it back up. I gave the front rider a small gap so I would not run up on him too fast on the down, then jumped out of the turn up the hill and went right past him up the other side, then continued to attack. There was one more little technical section, which I knew I could get a few more bike lengths on and after that it was a matter of being able to keep the hammer down. With about 1/3 of the course to go, I opened up an 8-10 second lead, keeping it there until the last corner when I looked back and knew I had won my first California State Championship in Cyclecross. I cruised across the line with my hands up, quite a bit different from the ways of winning 4x World Titles, but almost as sweet. Being only my 3rd Pro Cross race and beating some fast guys I am pretty happy and feeling fitter than I ever have for endurance racing.
So if you see a Big Grizzly bear on my jersey next to those rainbow strips you all know where he came from…
Here is a video clip of Lopes riding the Crankworx Air DH course: