By Kim Sawyer
Chilly weather greeted the first ones arriving at Saturday’s Elks Backwoods course, but, by mid-day, winter temperatures would be replaced by a warm afternoon that many weren’t expecting. Though the hot weather was a bit of a surprise, the course was not. Having been a part of the Georgia Cyclocross Series for some years now, veteran racers knew what to expect: a hilly, twisty, woodsy course with a run-up and a set of barriers near the finish line.
Temperatures during the Masters Elite races may have been cool, but the racing was hot. In the 35+ race, Shey Lidner (C Town Bikes) almost immediately charged away from the field, leaving Bob Kuhn (Hup United) and Daryl Sawyer (Toyota Forklift) to chase him down. Bob and Daryl couldn’t match Shey’s speed and had to settle for 2nd and 3rd, respectively. In the Masters 45+ race, it was each man for himself. Jeff Clayton established and kept an early lead, while Michael Schmid (Deeds Publishing) and series leader John Phelan (ACC) each chased solo to finish 2nd and 3rd.
As the chilly morning gave way to spring-like weather, the Juniors and Women 4’s took to the line. Annalise Oestreich (Junior Flyers) became the queen of the Junior 10-14 race, and brothers Leon and Troy Waine (Junior Flyers) duked it out to take 2nd and 3rd. In the Junior 15 – 18 race, Blake Johnson crossed the line first with Fletcher Lydick (Frazier Cycling) and Justin Bashe (Frazier Cycling) finishing 2nd and 3rd. Kim Pounders (Smyrna Bicycles) took a convincing win in the Women’s 4 race, while Lori Balisteri (ATLX) and Jennifer Undutch (Sorella Cycling) cranked out a 2nd and 3rd place finish.
By the time the Men’s 3 and Women’s 1/2/3 racers reached the staging area, conditions were hot and dusty. Ryan Murray (Nouveau Velo Cycling Team) left no question who the strongest Men’s 3 rider was and finished first. Hutch Zimmerman (Roswell Bikes) and Broderick Hartley (Florida Velo) rounded out the podium. When the dust settled in the Women’s 1/2/3 race, it was Paula Burks zooming solo across the finish line ahead of a chasing Shannon Greenhill (Peachtree Bikes). Lisa Randall (Sorella Cycling) was 3rd.
The Men’s 4 and Men’s 4 35+ field were the next to battle each other in the heat. Matthew Reeves (Loose Nuts Cycling) put in a great ride for 1st, with Stephen LaVoie (ATHCX) and Thomas Russell (C Town Bikes) taking the honor of 2nd and 3rd in the Men’s 4 race. Kenneth Fischer’s (Reality Bikes) ride landed him on the top step of the Men’s 4 35+ podium. Brian Murphy (C Town Bikes) and Harry Boxler finished 2nd and 3rd.
With the smell of sizzling hamburgers and hotdogs in the air, the Elite Men took their turn. After an hour of negotiating the backwoods course, Thomas Turner (Team Jams) again bested the rest of the field. Brandon Pruett (Rome Velo) finished 2nd, and David Sagat (Fuji Bikes) was 3rd.
Singlespeed racers were next to discover who brought both the legs and the right gear to this hilly course. As the afternoon wound down, Aaron Pyle (ACC) and Mark Babcock (Deeds Publishing) circled the course together, while David Marbut (Toyota Forklift) chased. Aaron crossed the finish line first, with Mark coming in 2nd after going down in the last seconds of the race. David held on for 3rd.
Though the day’s races were finished, the weekend’s racing was far from over. Jim Behning and crew set out to put the finishing touches on the next day’s course, and racers headed home to try and coax their bodies into being ready to do it all again the next day cause Honey Badger don’t care if your legs hurt.