Maude Farrell and Brennan Wertz win Lake Sonoma Hopper

The MTB race is the penultimate in the five-race Grasshopper Adventure Series, which Farrell and Saturday's second place finisher Skyler Taylor are currently leading.

Photo: Brian Tucker

Maude Farrell and Brennan Wertz had two reasons to smile after Saturday’s Lake Sonoma Hopper in northern California — the sun finally showed up, and both landed the top step of the podium.

Farrell came in nearly three minutes ahead of Maghalie Rochette. Caitlin Bernstein was third.

In the men’s race, Skyler Taylor was two minutes back on Wertz, with Ben Frederick rounding out the podium.

Riders descend the singletrack above Lake Sonoma. (Photo: Brian Tucker)

Of all the Hoppers, Lake Sonoma is the only pure MTB race, and the 26-mile course packs a punch with over 5,000 feet of climbing. Miguel Crawford, the founder of the Grasshopper Adventure Series, spent the last week adjusting the route due to heavy rains from earlier this winter.

Nevertheless, those familiar with the usual route said that Saturday’s seemingly never-ending series of steep ups and keep-you-on-your-toes descents were par for the course.

Farrell’s race got off to a decidedly good start when she made a select group during the three mile paved climb up Rockpile Road. This set her up for success as she turned onto the singletrack “with a clear path in front of me,” she said.

Farrell on the gas (Photo: Brian Tucker)

From then on, Farrell was the lone woman in front. Behind her, Rochette and Bernstein rode together for much of the first lap and some of the second, but Rochette said that by “just riding steady,” she eventually dropped Bernstein who was in more of an attack mode.

The victory marked a meaningful milestone in what is just the beginning of Farrell’s season.

“My one goal this season was to win one race,” she said. “I was also keen to win the overall Hopper series, which seems secure now. There’s nothing like winning your backyard series.”

Next week, Farrell will race the Fuego XL at Sea Otter, kicking off her 2023 Life Time Grand Prix campaign.

The men’s race saw more tight-knit action between the top three riders.

First MTB race? No problem! (Photo: Brian Tucker)

Taylor, who is leading the overall Grasshopper Adventure Series for the men, said he was “yo yo’ing off the back of Brennan for pretty much the entire day.”

“I’d say I was between 5-20 seconds behind him the entire race. I made a big move about halfway through the on the last lap to get back on terms with him, and he immediately countered and that was the end of it.”

Wertz, like Farrell, had a goal to win a Hopper this year — the fact that Lake Sonoma was also his first mountain bike race ever made it all the sweeter. He’s also headed to Sea Otter in a week, which is why he opted to race on his hardtail Saturday rather than a gravel bike at Belgian Waffle Ride on Sunday.

“We have a pretty big mountain bike race next weekend, and this was a good warmup,” Wertz said. “I’m just preparing for things to come, getting comfortable on the bike, and having a ton of fun. These are my favorite events, and chasing that win … I had to keep coming back until I got one.”

Men’s Pro Podium. Grasshopper Adventure Series, Lake Sonoma Hopper (Photo: Brian Tucker)

Full results here.





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