Deep Fried Racing
While racing for most doesn’t start until March at the earliest, I decided to shake things up a bit this year and head down to Georgia for the Southern Cross race, the first stop in the American Ultracross series. For those that don’t know, ultracross is similar to a dirt road race with a sprinkle of cyclocross and mountain biking thrown in so as to favor a cyclocross bike. My weapon of choice: TCX Advanced SL. Being in Georgia, this race called for a proper road trip, and my cohort in driving was Mateus from Kelpius Cycling (www.kelpiuscycling.com). If you don’t know Mat, and you’re in Philly, you should check out his beard, which is rather impressive. But I digress…….
|Mat and his glorious beard up the first climb. Photo by Donna Combs Garcia.|
The drive down was thankfully uneventful, with a midway stop at new Giant Mid-Atlantic rider Ryan Fawley’s house (Thanks again Ryan!) for a snooze and snack. As we approached the race venue on the local routes, we were overcome with a mixture of first-race-of-the-year nerves, churches, and hunger (’twas dinner time). A quick stop into Northstar Bicycle in town to get our numbers, and we quickly made our way to a swank new italian food restaurant for grubbin. If you’re ever in Dahlonega, GA, be sure to stop in to Piazza. Our waitress was so excited she even spilled an entire beer on my lap! After wringing out my pants into the nearest glass, I sucked down the bubbly and hit the sack.
Now I’ll have to admit, when I planned this trip I fully expected it to be warmer at the race than at home. Glad I didn’t place that bet, ’cause it was purdy durn cold! Nothing a few windstopper layers couldn’t fix though. The start of the race was a shot out of a cannon onto a grass ‘cyclocross’ course through the Montaluce vineyard grounds. I must’ve forgot how to start a race, as I quickly found myself go from the front to around 30th position in the time it takes a grandma to say BINGO on Sunday night. As we traversed some rolling paved road, I set sight on the various chasing groups forming ahead, and as the first big climb started, I was able to ride solid pace, steadily picking riders off. A brief stop to remove a stone from my shoe was my major impediment, and then I started the first big descent. WAAAASSSSSSHHHBOOOOOAAAARRRDDDDD!!!!!!
|Climbing with the mobile cheering section in tow. Photo by Donna Combs Garcia|
As I hit the rollers between the first big descent and the second big climb, my hands started regaining feeling from the numbing rattles of the braking bumps in the fireroads long enough for me to shift a few gears and pick off another 2 or 3 riders. Then it was up the second big climb, which was a bit less steep, and more enjoyable in my opinion. Had to stop briefly to pry a gu from the pocket, then made my way back down the hill for the last time. At the bottom, it was pavement back to the vineyard cyclocross course finish. I had some left in the tank, so felt it was time for some pinnin’ it on the paved rollers back to the vineyard. Caught my last rider just before the finish, and finished my first race of 2013 in 6th place (6th in Men’s Open, 11th Overall). I’ll take it!
|Southern Cross 2013: Men’s Open Podium. Photo by Greg Rides Trails|
Overall, the race was well organized and I’d recommend it to anyone searching for some solid winter miles with a little extra oomph. But be sure to bring your climbin legs ya hear?!