Four HSU cyclists made the long trip south to the sixth race of the WCCC season hosted by UC Santa Barbara at the Fire Stone Walker Ranch. Alex Deich, Kevin Cage, Kevin Pabinquit, and Justin Graves took a long weekend in honor of Veteran’s Day, riding 30 miles in the Santa Cruz’s Soquel Demonstration Forest on Thursday, followed by some rock garden riding in beautiful San Luis Obispo on Friday. By the time the guys arrived to the race, legs were already tired, but skills were sharp.
Kevin Cage competed in Saturday’s B XC, completing 20 miles through the pasture lands. Justin Graves cruised through the A’s race, a long 30+ mile event. Graves held 6th position for the majority of the race until he was out sprinted by Brendan Lehman of UCSC and Jordan Kestler of UCB to finish 8th. Meanwhile Alex Deich and Kevin Pabinquit got down with dual slalom practice. Graves was smoked from the XC effort and arrived to dual practice late, just in time to see a Cal Poly women go O.T.B. fracturing her femur, closing the course for over an hour while medical personnel were dispatched to the scene.
By the time the course was clear officials were fearing the loss of light and rushed things on without further practice. Officials also sought to slow the course down to protect the riders and so placed slalom cones in every corner. The cones were not well thought out, nor were the rules surrounding them, and many riders failed to qualify due to knocking them over in seeding runs. Pabinquit and Graves would qualify for Men’s A. Pabinquit going out in the first round after sending the courses large quad roller gap, one of only two riders to clear it on the day. Graves would advance to the second round, but was eliminated when he drew left lane, a lane he had not ridden at all before the race.
The troubles of the slalom were soon forgotten with DH practice runs and evening pump track sessions that went late into the night. The next morning HSU prepared for the DH. Alex Deich started his first Men’s A DH and put in a solid run.
After several practice runs together Pabinquit and Graves were riding fast and close to each other’s pace. Pabinquit had raced the track years prior and was a strong favorite. In the final HSU stormed the competition, Graves taking 2nd and Pabinquit taking his first A’s win of the season! If there was any doubt, HSU’s riding this weekend solidified its status as one of the best gravity teams in the west. With freshman talent like Pabinquit and Deich returning next season along with the experienced guidance of upper classmen like Graves, HSU will be a program to watch.