Nick Van Winkle (Litespeed-BMW) won the Men’s Pro/1/2 race at Sunday’s Dingo CX by over a minute and a half.

PHOTOS AND RACE REPORT BY Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com

Dingo CX kicked off the Georgia Cross Series for 2015 with an epic weekend. Heavy rains greeted racers on Saturday, and early races Sunday were buffeted by hurricane force winds, which snapped tape and posts. Dingo Race Productions and crew did a great job with keeping the races going, the tape up, and everything humming along! Chef Greg kept the podium winners happy with homemade cupcakes; the Fajitas food truck had hot coffee on Saturday to help drive away the cold rain or at least keep shivering spectators warm.

The course was a mix of sand, grass with “S” turns, and wide track through the woods that was littered with roots. Two bridges and a barrier section broke up the mud. Saturday’s rains kept the course a soupy but rideable mess. At one point late in the day much of the course was under several inches of water. With things drying out Sunday morning, the mud became very thick. Sections in the woods that were rideable on Saturday proved challenging on Sunday. Mud sucked at riders wheels, shoes, and in one case took a crank arm off in the Elite Masters race.

The Cat. 4 Women, Cat. 5 Men, and a large field of Juniors started off Sunday’s races. Three riders in the Cat. 5 quickly got off the front. By the end of the first lap Bret Noisette (MTB Garage) had taken the lead, which he would hold until the finish. Jeph Burgoon (Smyrna Bicycles) was second, and Jeff Moore came in third. In a repeat of Saturday’s Cat. 4 Women’s race Carolyn Baldwin got the holeshot to the sand and never looked back. Cambrie Epperson finished second with the ever improving Mae Gurene (Sorella Cycling) in third. In the Juniors 10-14 the Waine twins (East Point Track Club) took off on together and used their mountain bikes to an advantage. They were able to ride through some of the muck that the other kids were running. Troy took the win followed immediately by Leon. Reese Latham (Mission Source-NCGA) overcame not being able to shift to take third.

Liz Hardy (Sorella Cycling) heads back towards the finish line at Dingo CX during Saturday’s Women’s Cat. 4 race.

The Elite Masters 1/2/3 age groups were redrawn for this year for 40+ and 50+ riders. The 40+ riders did not waste any time going at one another. Wes Garland (Peachtree Bikes) took the win over Litespeed-BWM teammates Charles Rossignol and Darren Comer. The 50+ race was a whirlwind of the Red and Black of Toyota Forklifts as they went through on the first lap. Alan Burton put a slight lead on teammate Dub Smith early in the race. They would hold their spots to the finale. Only hometown favorite Bobby Thrash (Adventure Cycles) could spoil the Toyota Forklifts sweep of the top 5 places as he finished third.

The Women’s Elite and Men’s Cat. 4 race saw the course drying out, which made for quite a few slow sections. Much of the grass was like a bog trying to suck the wheels off of the bikes. The Women’s Elite started first and flew through the sand. Deb Whitmore (Organic Valley) and Kim Blodgett (Atlanta Beltline) quickly distanced themselves from the other women. Kim could never quite catch Deb although she would get within 20 seconds. Deb took the win with Kim in second and Karen Miller (Finkraft Cycling Team) in third. In the Cat. 4, Michael Packard won followed by Adam Newsome and Eric Burke.

In the Men’s Pro/1/2 race, Nick Van Winkle (Litespeed-BWM) appeared to be the only one ready to race. He got off of the line quickly, hit the sand, did not slow down—spraying sand on the hecklers much to their enjoyment–, and had 5 seconds on the field within the first half minute of the race. Nick’s lead would eventually build to over 90 seconds. Battling for second place was NC resident Josh Whitmore (Organic Valley) and perennial GACX podium finisher Artur Sagat. Josh took second over Artur. The Cat. 3 race was a closer contest with Tim Mondor (Alpha Bikes), Brian Field, and collegiate racer Ben Rothschild (Georgia Tech).

The Single Speeders may have had the best equipment choice of the day with no drive train to mess up in the mud. After warming up in the Elite Masters, Dave Marbut (Toyota Forklifts) got off to an early lead, but Troy Dunton closely trailed him. Not far back were Mike Manthey (Faster Mustache) and Mclean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles). Midway through the race Troy took over the lead and would hold it for the win. Mclean rounded out the podium. The Masters 35 Cat. 4/5 saw Faster Mustache riders Eric Burke and Nick Harmer take the top two spots. Not content with one podium today, Jeph Burgoon got third.