Cyclist rides to national crown |

Cyclist rides to national crown

The wins continue to pile up for Grass Valley mountain biker Chuck Ross. After winning his age group at the Sea Otter Classic and the Lemurian, the Sierra Express Racing Team member can now add a national title to his résumé.

Ross ran away from the 35-39 age group competition Sunday to win his first national title at the Southridge Park National Mountain Biking Series Race (commonly called the L.A. National) in Fontana in a tiny mountain range called Jarupa Hills. The race was one of six in the National Mountain Bike Series, with wins in the series counting for more points than other races considering the higher level of competition.

The race was three laps long with each consisting of seven miles and more than 1,000 feet of climbing. Ross rode the course a day early on Saturday and from that ride was able to determine his strategy early.

“We all thought passing was going to be a problem with all the single tracks and narrow trails,” Ross said. “And with a short course and lots of people, it’s easy to get caught in lap traffic. But if you can get out in front, you can get through those areas easier.”

Ross did just that, springing off to a quick start so he could be more in control of setting his own pace.

This was also his first race of the season in which he knew who exactly he was competing against since it was just his age group on the course during the race.

By the beginning of the second lap, Ross has given himself quite a lead, which proved to be fairly nerve wracking for him throughout the remainder of the race.

“You’re always dreading what’s going on behind you, wondering how close people are,” Ross said. “It’s a little uncomfortable and distracting to keep looking back to see if someone’s closing on you. You just have to keep going as fast as you can so nobody can catch you.”

In the end, no other rider could catch Ross – including three racers who finished in the top 10 at the national championships last year.

Ross will not race again until early July.

Other local results:

Craig Lindberg and Chris Tibodeau, both of whom ride for SERT, competed at the Golden State Criterium road race in Rancho Cordova. Lindberg was 12th in the masters 45-plus division with Tibodeau finishing seventh in the Elite 5 division.

Matt Whittler and Jason Moeschler traveled to the Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Race in Ashland, Ore., with Moeschler claiming third in the pro division and Whittler taking second in the 18-35 expert division.

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