Grant Park Cyclocross: still summer in Georgia. © Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com

Grant Park Cyclocross: still summer in Georgia. © Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com

by Trish Albert

Sunshine and unseasonable hot temperatures greeted riders at the Grant Park Cyclocross Race. For years racers have wanted a venue ITP (Inside the Perimeter) in Atlanta. The Litespeed-BMW team delivered a fast, fun course! In addition to the race, the Grant Park Farmer’s Market was a five minute walk across the park, the venue was family friendly with plenty of playground equipment, and Zoo Atlanta was right around the corner.

In the Masters 35+, a small group broke away early in the race including Grayson Tudor (Peachtree Bikes), Daryl Sawyer (Toyota Forklift), Eric Smith (Guardian Auto) and Brady Rogers (Litespeed-BMW). On the second lap, Eric pulled away from the group. Dave Gearhart (Litespeed-BMW) caught the chase group, which also now included Nate Zukas (ACC). Eric held his lead while Dave and Nate battled for second.  Eric won while Dave got second and Nate third.

Alan Burton (Toyota Forklift) took the holeshot in the Masters 45+, but his lead was short lived as he rode straight through the tape at the first turn.  Dub Smith (Toyota Forklift) then took charge by opening a gap on Tim Shank (Guardian Auto), who in turn opened a gap to the chasing pack by the end of the first lap.  Over the next two laps a  group of four formed in pursuit of the two leaders. The group included Greg “Farmer G” Schisla (GTC), Alan, and two other riders.  Approaching two laps to go Alan broke free from the chase group joining Tim the following lap.  While Dub maintained his lead for the win, Tim and Alan spent a lap together before Alan accelerated at the barriers opening a small gap that held to the line.

A small number of Juniors 15-18 toed the line. The number was down a bit from last year as several older Juniors are now beating up on the adults in their category races. Thomas Petit (Frazier Cycling) was first. Parker Haney (Frazier Cycling) took second, and Keegan Schimmelman came in shortly thereafter for third. The Juniors 14 and under had a nice field. Michael Garrison (Mission Source Juniors) won. Showing no signs of slowing down from last year Leon Waine (Junior Flyers) came in second. He was followed by Davis Banyon (Frazier Cycling). Nearly 20 Women lined up for the Cat. 4 race. Looking smooth in her lines, track racer Salma Huque (Junior Flyers) took the win. She was followed by teammate Sophia Broadwell and Lisa Bongiorno (Frazier Cycling).

One name comes to mind this cross season for the Women’s Elite race-Lisa Randall (Sorella Cycling). She dominated the first race of the year at Old Grey Barn. At Grant Park, she would do no less. In fact, she caught nearly half of the Cat. 3 Men’s field that started a minute in front of the Women. Coming in for second was Elizabeth Lee (LG Factory Team). After being absent from the GA CX series last year, Lori Palmer (Unattached) proved that she is still a strong cross racer with her third place finish. In the Men’s Cat. 3, Calvin Cheung (College Park Bicycles) won. William Vargas (Atlanta Cycling) took the second step on the podium, and Michael Schmid (Reality Bikes) got third.

The front of the large Cat. 4 field stayed close to one another for most of the race. Junior Willem Kaiser (Mission Source Juniors) rocked his sunglasses and rode in first over the line. James Hendershott (Georgia College) was second. Harry Boxler was third.

The Men’s Elite field saw a large turn out since Cat 3s can choose to do their own race and/or race with the Big Guys. Red Beard (aka Thomas Turner of Team Jamis) was back to defend his series win from 2012. It was not as easy today as it was for some races last year. He was trailed closely by Nicholas VanWinkle (Litespeed-BMW). Eventually, he pulled away and won.  Nicholas held steady for second with Artur Sagat in third.

The Single Speeders had a hard time choosing a gear for this course—too hard and getting up the few hills was difficult but too easy and they would spin out on the flats. David Marbut (Toyota Forklist) took a well deserved win. Michael James (Prima Tappa) took the second step of the podium, and Matthew Reeves (LNC) was third.