Negotiating the barriers at Dingo Cross. © Trish Albert

Hank Beaver negotiating the barriers at Dingo Cross. © Trish Albert

by Trish Albert

BALDWIN, Ga. – While it was not rainy, the first day of Dingo Cross was cool, overcast, and breezy. The race was held at Hayes Chevrolet, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, and the auto dealership provided the backdrop for a twisty, off camber course.

Much of the course weaved through a freshly mowed open field and there was a small spiral and a set of barriers to break things up. The one run up was on the backside of the course and was so steep that only a few could ride it.

The Masters 35+ race saw a small group form in the first two laps. Brady Rogers (Litespeed/BMW), Michael Schmid (Reality Bikes), and Daryl Sawyer (Toyota Forklifts) battled it out for the win. Schmid, who sometimes races the 45+ category, showed the two young guys how to really ride on the last lap when he put a small gap on them. Rogers was second with Sawyer in third.

In the Masters 45+ race Tom Butler (Smyrna Bicycles) took the holeshot and held the lead until Greg Casteel (Harper Auto) took the reins leading into the spiral. Casteel remained on the front with Alan Burton and Dub Smith (Toyota Forklifts) in tow as the three opened a small gap on the field over the next lap and a half.  Heading into the third lap Casteel turned over pacing duties to Burton.

Behind Butler, Timothy Gotsick (Lupus Racing Team) and Greg “Farmer G” Schisla (GTC) worked to close the gap to the leading trio.  Realizing the threat from behind, Burton increased the pace, eventually leaving everyone else in the dust as he exited the run-up.  While Burton continued his solo effort, Gotsick reeled in Smith and Casteel, leaving Schisla and Butler behind.

Casteel was the next to succumb to Gotsick’s power.  Smith initially held station ahead of Gotsick to protect teammate Buton but eventually lost it as Gotsick took control in his continued pursuit of the front of the race.  Burton held off a quickly closing Gotsick for the win with Smith taking a comfortable third.

The Juniors 15-18 field had five fast entries. Fletcher Lydick (Frazier Cycling) used the race as his warm up for the Pro/1/2/3 race. He flew around the course and came out for the win.  Unattached rider, Kyle Ellis got second, and Luke Broadwell (L5 Flyers p/b Maxxis) was third. Three 10 to 14-year-old juniors toed the line. Davis Branyon (Frazier Cycling), one of the tallest at age 14, towered over the Junior Flyers’ 10-year-old Waine twins, Troy and Leon. Branyon rode away for the win on Saturday with Troy Waine putting in a good fight for second. His brother Leon rounded out the podium.

The Cat 4 Women started out the first lap with the top riders staying together. Eventually Sophia Broadwell (Junior Flyers) won with Lisa Bongiorno (Frazier Cycling) in second. Last year’s Cat 4 Women’s series winner Lori Ballistreri (ATLX) got her first podium of the year with third.

The Men’s Cat 3 race was fast on the twisty course. Mclean Harris (Smyran Bicycles) took what would be his first of four wins for the weekend. Calvin Cheung (College Park Bicycles) was second. Michael Schmid took third.

The Women’s 1/2/3 competition was hot. Recent New Hampshire transplant Karen Tripp (Blue Steel Cyclery) took off at the start. Kim Sawyer (Toyota Forklifts) and Elizabeth Lee (LG Factory) put in a valiant chase with Lee beating Sawyer to take second.

Riders motor through the grass at Dingo Cross. © Trish Albert

Dave Marbut chasing Mclean Harris at Dingo Cross. © Trish Albert

The Men’s Cat 4 racers decided to start crashing in the third turn. No one seemed immune, with even a couple crashes reported from the podium finishers. Blake Bridges (Northstar) took the lead within the first half lap. A pack of about six riders avoided the more chaotic midfield, but before long, the tight turns separated them.  No one seemed to work together, and a nasty sounding ankle sprain took one rider out of contention on the third lap.  Alex Newton (Faster Mustache) took the win on a mountain bike by stealthily passing Bridges on the final laps.  Twenty seconds later, Ben Braxley and Shane Collins (OCRC) were neck and neck coming to the line with Braxley sliding past by inches to round out the podium.

The Men’s Cat 1/2/3 race was the Red Beard show. Thomas Turner (Team Jamis) took control of the race early and decisively. Nick VanWinkle (Litespeed/BMW) tried valiantly to stay with him, but a bobble on one of the early laps cost him several valuable seconds, which he was never able to recover. Unlike the roadie friendly Savannah courses, the Dingo course was lumpy and twisty, favoring those with good bike handling skills, often a mountain biker. Turner won, followed by VanWinkle and unattached rider Artur Sagat.

The single speed race had a large number of entries on Saturday. As they have for the last few weeks, Master’s racer Dave Marbut (Toyota Forklifts) and young Mclean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles) traded blows throughout the race. Marbut stayed glued to Mclean’s wheel the first two laps but Mclean eventually pulled away for the win with Marbut in second. Matthew Reeves (LNC) rounded out the podium.