WORDS AND PHOTOS: Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com
Many Georgia Cross racers went to bed Saturday night with dreams of mud tires, puddles, and pouring rain. Instead, a light foggy mist settled on Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills for the Georgia Cyclocross State Championships presented by Faster Mustache. It wasn’t epic cross weather, but at least the course was wet. Mud was even spotted on the downhills during the last few races. Fall is Georgia’s dry season, so any precipitation at a cross race is welcome.
The Masters races had their largest fields of the season. In the Masters 35+, Chris Lessing (Round Here Racing) went to the front early and never looked back. Shey Linder (CTown Bikes) and Connell Patterson put in a good chase but could not catch him. He won with Shey in second and Connell in third. The 45+ Masters racing was as hot as it has been all year. With a twisty woods section coming immediately after the 300 meter opening stretch and a state championship on the line, start line nerves were tight. As the group exited the woods the usual suspects were immediately away, with Michael Schmid (Reality Bikes) and Alan Burton (Toyota Forklifts) holding point with a small gap. On the dirt road a trio of Fulton Flyers (Dub Smith, Bobby Thrash and Lamar Mauney) reduced the gap, only to see it stretch again in the second wooded section. As the leaders hit the grassy climb, Michael turned the screws to solidify the gap. Over the next two laps, Dub and Lamar, along with a surging Tom Butler (Smyrna Bikes), continued to press behind the leading duo as the field splintered. Soon a solitary figure was seen behind them-Timothy Gotsick (Team Lupus), who is a cross newbie and the Georgia Elite Men’s TT Champ. By mid-race Timothy caught Dub and Lamar. After a short respite, he left them in his jet wash and joined Alan, who had been dropped as Michael motored out to a solo lead that put him into his first Georgia CX State Championship jersey. Timothy and Alan rolled in for 2nd and 3rd respectively, with Dub 4th. Being the “Fastest of the Most Experienced Masters,” Lamar took 5th and the 55+ State Championship jersey.
Three racers in the Juniors 15-18 vied for the State Championship. Kyle Ellis (Frazier Cycling) and Luke Broadwell (Junior Flyers) formed the front duo. Luke took the win with Kyle in second. Blake Wilson (Frazier Cycling) was third. In the Juniors 14 and Under, Davis Branyon (Frazier Cycling) won with the Waine twins (Junior Flyers) following. Leon was second, and Troy was third. The Women’s Cat. 4 was a fight for the jersey. On the first lap there was a traffic jam in the woods. Sophia Broadwell (Junior Flyers) went down, and mayhem ensued behind. Emeline Renz (ATLX) and newcomer Amy Ross took advantage of the situation and high-tailed it out of there. Sophia attempted to remount but then very smartly picked up her bike and ran with it out of the woods; she ran by everyone who was riding and didn’t lose any time. Emeline was off the front and had a good lead until the top of the run-up. She was followed by Miriam Vos (Sorella Cycling) and Lori Balistieri (ATLX). After the run-up on the first lap Lisa Bongiorno (Frazier Cycling) and Sophia passed the 4 leaders to take point. On the second lap Rhys May (ATHCX) worked her way to the front. Drawing on her track speed, Sophia passed Rhys on the gravel road going into the third lap; Lisa stuck to Sophia’s wheel. Rhys “The Runner” took the lead back on the run up and kept it to take her first well deserved Cat. 4 win. Series Leader Lisa was second with Sophia in third.
The Men’s Cat. 3 race was the Mclean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles) show. He went to the front early without nary a glance back at the competition. Amos Harvey (Round Here Racing) and Calvin Cheung (College Park Bicycles) chased hard but could not catch Mclean. Amos hung on for second. Calvin got third. With the State Championship jersey on the line, the big guns came out for the Women’s 1/2/3 race. The women got off to a fast start with the pack staying together coming out of the woods. Lisa Randall (Sorella Cycling) and Paula Burks (Peachtree Bikes) put a small gap on the rest of the field on the first lap. Lisa said that they “rode around in circles with Paula chasing me until 1.5 to go. Paula attacked and got a few second gap thanks to her strong legs and an ungraceful bobble on a remount by me.” Lisa started closing it back down a second at a time, just to make the same mistake again. She lost the 2-3 seconds that she had gained back. In the end, Paula took the win by 5 seconds. Shannon Greenhill (Peachtree Bikes) won third to keep it an all Peachtree Bikes sponsored podium.
A large Men’s Cat. 4 field was looking for a jersey. The beginning was chaos as everyone was looking for the holeshot. The technical woods section slowed everyone in the main pack down, and a group of 10 or so was allowed to escape. Eventually, they would become separated. James Hendershott (Georgia College) finished first and won the jersey. Faster Mustache rounded out the podium with with Paul Harris in second and Alex Newton in third.
With most of the Cat. 3 racers opting to race in their Category this week, in the Battle of the Beards aka the Men’s Cat. 1/2/3, a small field lined up. It’s as if they are reading from a script this year. The Beards–Thomas Turner (Team Jamis) and Nick VanWinkle (Litespeed-BMW)—quickly jumped off the front. Tim Barrett (EPTC) and Artur Sagat valiantly began the chase. Alas, they were never able to rein in the beards. A minor mechanical half way through the race cost Nick several seconds. Thomas took the opportunity to show why he is the Masters World Champion when he kicked it into another gear. He held on for the win. Nick got second, and Artur was third.
Some Single Speeders take the race seriously while some consume a few beverages beforehand. Some wanted to race for the State Champiomship, and others simply wanted to get back to their beverages quickly. Having just raced the Cat. 1/2/3 Tim Barrett (EPTC) took early control of the race along with Matthew Reeves (LNC). Behind them, Mclean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles) and Dave Marbut (Toyota Forklifts) took up the chase. After several laps, Matthew dropped out with a mechanical. The race was Tim’s. Mclean put a small gap on Dave, which he could not close. They finished in that order.