With cowbell in hand, fan awaits the group of racers rounding the corner. © Trish Albert

With cowbell in hand, fan awaits the group of racers rounding the corner. © Trish Albert

by Trish Albert

MARIETTA, Ga. – Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta is the longest running venue in the Georgia Cross series. Racers rejoiced as ’cross-appropriate temperatures finally hit the state.

With a low of 27 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 43, this was cold for Georgia Cross. Riders bundled up as they pre-rode what is the favorite course for many. They were not disappointed! With two sets of barriers, the classic run up, a long fast section, and a set of whoop-de-doos, the course was one of the best yet.

Dave Gearhart (Litespeed-BMW) came into the Masters 35+ race fresh after having taken several weekends off from racing. Ian Prunier (Smyrna Bicycles) took the lead at the first barrier with Gerhart on his wheel. Gerhart counterattacked on the backside of the course on the second set of barriers and continued to build his lead in subsequent laps. A group of six took up the chase, however, they could not reel him in and Gerhart held on for the win. Michael Schmid (Reality Bikes) nipped Prunier at the line for second place.

In the Masters 45+ Timothy Gotsick got a gap early and held it to the finish. Dub Smith (Toyota Forklifts) put in a good chase but could not catch him. Lamar Mauney (Toyotoa Forklifts) was third.

There were two 15-18 Juniors that battled one another. Thomas Petitt (Frazier Cycling) came out on top followed by Keegan Schimmelman. The Cat 4 Women’s fields have been consistently big this year. The turnout at Jim Miller was no exception with fifteen women on the line. Emeline Renz (ALTX) took the holeshot into the barriers with everyone else close behind. Soon Cathi Swanson took the lead and never looked back. State Champion Rhys Mays (ATHCX) took second, and Amy Ross was third.

Everyone loves watching the Juniors 10-14 race. They were not disappointed Sunday. Leon Waine (Junior Flyers) took a commanding lead early and kept it until the end. Hunter Murray followed in second with Troy Waine (Junior Flyers) in third.

Mclean Harris (Smyrna Bicycles) put the hammer down on the first lap and took the win in the Cat 3 Men’s race. Matthew Reeves (LNC) was second, and Schmid rounded out the podium.

In the Women’s Cat 1/2/3 race, Lisa Randall (Sorella Cycling) was back after several weeks of racing mountain bikes. Randall took off at the start while Kim Sawyer (Toyota Forklifts) and Elizabeth Lee (LG Factor) formed a chase group with the others far behind. Sawyer gapped Lee a few times during the first couple of laps, but Lee closed it each time. Finally, with two laps to go, Sawyer attacked hard after the first set of barriers, managing a gap that she was able to hold until the finish to take second over Lee.

A large Cat 4 Men’s field lined up. After they stretched out in the field, the line seemed to go on for a mile. Alex Newton (Faster Mustache) took the holeshot with Ben Braxley and Scott Morris (Village Volkswagon) close behind. For three laps, Braxley and Newton took turns out front with Morris hanging on.  On the last lap, Newton attacked on the small dirt climb.

In a post race interview, he said, “I knew with my mountain bike gearing I wouldn’t have a chance in the sprint, so my plan was to try and exit the woods with a gap. The small dirt climb before the short and steep downhill was my attack spot and rode/ran the run up as hard as I could until I was out of the woods.” Newton had time to adjust his jersey and throw his arms up in victory. Braxley out-sprinted Morris for second place.

Racers take on the barriers at the Marietta edition of Georgia Cross. © Trish Albert

Racers take on the barriers at the Marietta edition of Georgia Cross. © Trish Albert

In the Men’s Cat 1/2/3 race, the first lap created a group of six including Thomas Turner (Team Jamis), Nick VanWinkle (Litespeed-BMW), Frank Trevieso (Start Stop), Tim Barrett (EPVA) and two others. The group stayed together for several laps before the first rider came off. The remaining five bided their time. With a lap and a half to go, Turner stopped toying with them and took off, putting 30 seconds on VanWinkle within the last lap of the race.  Arthr Sagat followed for second with VanWinkle in third.

After not winning the Single Speed at Serenbe, Harris was out for revenge. As he did in the Cat 3 race, Harris wasted no time leaving everyone else in his dust. Dave Marbut (Toyota Forklifts) was the first rider to give chase, but it proved fruitless. Marbut fell back several places. Next up Barrett tried to bring Harris back. Harris won with Reeves in second and Marbut in third.