Words and photos by Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com
Elks Aidmore in Conyers hosted the Georgia Cross opening weekend! After a dry Saturday race on the traditional woodsy Elks course, Sunday’s course was “Shades of Honey Badger.” The infamous muddy ditch was back after a year’s absence. Mother Nature graced Sunday morning with a little bit of drizzle, making roots nice and slick and adding moisture to the already muddy ditch. Other parts of the course that were covered by trees remained dry.
New for 2014 is the Masters 35+ Cat. 4/5 race at 10:00. Along side them are the fun loving Singlespeeders. The SS took of first followed about 30 seconds later by the Masters. Eric Nicoletti (Faster mustache) took off early with a Trevor Harding following behind. Mountain bike wielding Dave Marbut (Toyota Forklifts) tried to make up time by riding the ditch every lap. Those three held their places for the podium. In the Masters 4/5, Chris Isenberg took the win. Matt Harris (C-Town Bikes) was second, and Corny Pogi (Sopo Bikes) was third.
Elite Masters were lucky as it started raining hard about 10 minutes before their race. The course quickly turned wet and slick. The Master 35+ looks to be hotly contested this year as “Little Timmy” Barrett (Toyota Forklifts) is finally eligible to race Masters and several riders are moving up to the 45+ age group. Tim didn’t disappoint. He took the lead early and held on for the win on Sunday. Chris Wyatt (Peachtree Bikes) finished behind him after taking Saturday’s win. Nate Sibley (Atlanta Cycling) was third. In the 45+ field, the front of the race stayed compact in the tricky conditions until the second half of the first lap. A trio containing Litespeed/BWM teammates Brady Rogers and Charles Rossignol and Peachtree Bike’s Grayson Tudor began to pull away. Dub Smith (Toyota Forklifts) led the chase with Scott Staubach, Men’s 60-64 National Champion Hardwick Gregg (Infinity Cycling), and a couple others in tow. By the third lap the lead trio had become a duo of Brady and Grayson, which stopped when both tumbled end over end into the ditch, taking Grayson out with a mechanical. The following lap Brady lost the lead as a whittled down chase group of Dub and Scott came through with their eyes on the top step. After repeated attacks by Dub, Scott was gapped on the final climb with Dub taking the well-earned win. Brady held on for third.
Ten Cat. 4 women lined up. Trudy Franzel (Alderman) of Savannah captured first on Saturday. Once again she got the holeshot into the tape and didn’t look back. Behind her it was a battle for second place. Brittnay Hopson (Sorella Cycling) took the honors followed by Ana Bailie (L5 Flyers). A little further back in the Cat. 4 pack, Brittnay Mixon (Sorella Cycling) wowed the crowd on every lap by using her gravity racing skills to get air over the ditch. The Juniors 15-18 saw Blake Johnson (AYC Junior Devo) come out on top followed by Davis Branyon (Frazier Cycling) and Keegan Schimmelman. The Under 14 Juniors had a good showing with riders as young as 7! Spectators could be heard across the venue cheering these youngsters on. The top 3 were Sean Branyon (Frazier Cycling), Owen Braunecker (Mission Source/NCGA), and Makena Gates. Trevor Harding won the Cat. 5 race. He was followed by Josh Lothspeigh (Northstar Racing) and Zach Holmes.
The Elite Women have a 30 second headstart on the Cat. 4 Men. The fastest ladies made it known they have no intention of getting caught by any of the men. They put an exclamation mark on that Sunday. Saturday saw Paula Burks (Peachtree Bike) beat Lisa Randall (Super Sport) on a dry, fast course. With parts of the Shades of Honey Badger course wet and muddy, it favored Lisa’s mountain bike skills. She did not disappoint. On the first ditch crossing, Lisa put a few seconds on Paula, but Paula came back until she slid out in a corner. Lisa put a few more seconds on Paula with each dismount and held on for the win. Paula finished second. Elizabeth Lee (Loganville Ford) rounded out the podium. After Saturday’s dramatic win in the Cat. 4 race, Zach Lutz (Grindstone Cycling) could be called an upgrader after immediately moving up to Cat. 3. In his absence, Cat. 4 Men’s race was open. Connor Ardrey (Outspokin’ Augusta) won with Devin Vernick (L5 Flyers) in second and Chris Bulloch in third.
A little birdie said that Frank Trevieso (United Healthcare/706) had been training in secret for the Elks Aidmore cross races and was determined to take the win both days. Even with his victory on Saturday, there was speculation that he couldn’t handle the wetter conditions on Sunday. The 1/2 race got off to a fast start. With 6 laps to go, Frank had a 10 second lead over Nick Van Winkle (Litespeed/BMW). That lead never wavered until just over 1 lap to go. Frank overcooked a corner that had taken out several riders during the day. His bike bucked him off, and he lost a few precious seconds retrieving it. Nick nearly caught him. Frank remounted and put a few seconds between them again. Frank won with Nick in second. Artur Sagat (Round Here Racing) rounded out the podium. After crashing out in the Masters 45+ race, Grayson Tudor (Peachtree Bikes) came back to win the Cat. 3 race. Blake Bridges (Northstar Racing) was 2nd, and Matthew Reeves (LNC) was 3rd. The 1/2/3 Men kept the crowd entertained on the backside of the course. Rumor has it there were cookie hand ups and even a bacon wrapped donut hand up. Loud music could be heard from the ALTX speakers to get the riders and crowd pumped up.