WORDS AND PHOTOS BY Trish Albert, Southeasterncycling.com
Jim Miller Park in Marietta is the oldest continuously raced venue in the Georgia Cross Series. The course is also the site of Atlanta’s Wednesday Night CX Worlds. It is well known to those that have been racing-fast, hilly, and a big run up. The start is in the field with the first obstacle-a quadruple barrier set. The major change from years past was the looping of the far side of the course around the outside of the ball fields because of construction. A few technical turns brought the course to an off camber section and usually rideable ditch–then bit of flatland to the climb that leads to the big run up. Only a few have ever attempted riding it. A screaming downhill brings the course back into the field. Rain in the days leading up to the race left the ground a bit wet. Rain during the first two races turned it into a muddy mess, much to the delight of racers.
The first race of the day was greeted with a light rain. The Single Speeders were not deterred by the mud since they have no gears to get gunked up. They hustled out of the gate towards the barriers. A small group quickly broke away from the pack. Troy Dunton (GS Tenzig) spun home for the win followed by McLean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles) and Matthew Reeves (LNC). More than 50 Masters 4/5 braved the weather. Early in the race a break of 5 riders separated from the main field. Connor McNally (L5 Flyers) eventually rode away from Robin Blake (ACC), Jeff Hopkins, Matt Sexton (Reality Bikes), and Corny Delasalas (Sopo). Robin and Jeff faded leaving Matt and Corny. Connor got his second win in as many weeks while Corny out-sprinted Matt for second.
The Elite Masters 35+ race was a rainy showdown between Chris Wyatt (Peachtree Bikes) and Tim Barrett (Toyota Forklifts). They distanced themselves from the pack in the first couple of laps. Riders chased, but none could catch them. They came barreling down the finishing straight like two Indy cars. Chris won the sprint over Tim. Nate Sibly (Atlanta Cycling) was third. The distinguished gentlemen of the Elite Masters 45+ were again led out by Dub Smith (Toyota Forklifts) with pairs of Litespeed BMW (Charles Rossignol, Brady Rogers) and Peachtree Bikes (Grayson Tudor, Scott Staubach) teammates and the rest of the strong field in tow. After some first lap jockeying in the twists, turns and mud hole, the rain slicked run-up forced the first separation at the front of the race–Brady, Charles, Grayson and Scott pulling clear of a group including Travis Neumuller (MissionSource) and teammates Alan Burton and Dub (Toyota Forklifts). While these two groups largely held position over the second lap, charging through the field from behind was Tim Gotsick (THL Automotive). As Tim worked his way through the chase group on the third lap, the leaders split. Brady and Grayson pulled away, leaving Scott and Charles to fight it out for the final podium spot. Tim had other plans, however, overtaking both chasers as he continued his charge to the front. On the final lap Brady got a gap on Grayson, but it proved to be too little, too early as Grayson played his cards to perfection. He unleashed the sprint at just the right time to take the win. Unable to catch the leaders, Tim rolled in for a well earned third.
Ali Whittier (HUB Endurance Chattanooga) took the highest step on the podium in the Women’s Cat. 4 race. Holly Harris (Peachtree Bikes) and Ana Baille (L5 Flyers) stood with her. The Cat. 5 racers got their first taste of what cross racing is really like after the rain stopped. Spare bikes were needed by several riders as the thick slop took its toll. Zach Holmes won, Daniel Podratsky (Faster Mustache) got second, and Sean Taylor (ALTX) was third. The Juniors 10-14 was won by Michael Garrison (Mission Source/NCGA). Harrison Nguy (Frazier Cycling) was 2nd, and Leon Wayne (Junior Flyers) took third. Blake Johnson (AYC Junior Dev) took the win in the Juniors 15-18 with Mikey Waine (EPTC) and Blake Wilson (Frazier Cycling) following.
The sun came out and baked the 1:00 race. Lisa Randall (Super Sport) bypassed the orange sprinkled donut handups and overcame the heat and peanut butter mud to handily win the Women’s 1/2/3 race. Elizabeth Lee (Lifetime Bikes) came in a minute later for second, and Kim Blodgett was third. In the Men’s Cat. 4 Trevor Harding won over Todd Steigarwalt and Christian DiCenso (Prima Tappa).
The Men’s 1-2 race started out fast. A small group broke away on the first two laps. Unfortunately, a rider crashed hard during the previous race on the downhill near the runup. EMS had to be called after it was discovered her injuries were worse than first thought. The 1/2/3 race was suspended after 20 minutes, so that EMS could extract the injured racer. Officials decided to run a 30 minute “Crit-Cross” race using the part of the course in the field. The 1-2 and 3 categories were staged with time gaps between groups as they were when the race was suspended. The sun had dried up most of the field, making racing conditions very fast. In the 1-2 A group of 5-6 racers had a slight gap on the chase group. They stayed together until the end. Crit specialist Frank Travieso (UHC-706 Project) outkicked Nick VanWinkele (Litespeed-BMW) and Arthur Sagat (Round Here Racing). The Men Cat. 3 race was taken by David Vargas (Atlanta Cycling). Matthew Reeves (LNC) grabbed second with Wesley Burrus (Toyota Forklifts) in third.