Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Southern Cross

The first race of the year had me making the 12hr drive South to the mountains of Nothern Georgia to partake in the epic Southern Cross. 50 miles of paved/dirt fire roads with about 6000ft of elevation gain would certainly be enough to sort out the strongest riders. I was super excited to try out my new 616 stainless steel race rig, and it didn't disappoint. At 18.0 lbs, it's light and fast enough to hang right in there with the guys on CX bikes.

I got off to a good start. The off season stair running paid off as I was the first one to the top of the big nasty run up. From there, I hopped onto Thomas Turner's wheel as we head up into the mountains. Just coming off his masters world CX title, he was on a mission to ride all of us off his wheel, which he eventually did. We head up the famous "winding stair" climb and it was all I had just to stay with Thomas and Brian Toone. About 1/2 way up, I popped off the back, then near the top, I was joined by rockstar Garth Prosser and Spencer Whittier. We worked together pretty well up until the 2nd big climb on the course. I decided I was going to make the move and go for it. I hammered up the steady climb and distanced myself. From there, after a few more suprise uphill kickers, it was pretty much a time trial to finish 3rd.

I was really happy with 3rd. I had a solid race, and felt strong the whole way. We finished in just over 3hrs, and I was actually able to pull back a little bit of the time I lost on winding stair, which is a good sign. A 3hr race is just about perfect, and I'm finding that I enjoy just hammering the mountain roads over the trails. Pack racing is also much more fun than slogging out solo hrs on the trails. It's definately a lot less of a beat down on the body too. The 100 milers kind of drag on for me, and it was nice to finish a race and not feel like I almost died getting to the finish line. I think I'm really digging these gravel cross style events. Congrats on the win for Strava King Brian Toone! He's a really cool dude and it's a pleasure to stand on the podium with him. Watch out for this guy.

Thanks to the hospitality of the Livingston's, I had a sweet place to set up base camp for a week of training. The sun, warmer temps, and the smooth Georgia roads made getting in a big week almost easy! A couple highlights were the "silk sheets" group ride, an epic mountain fire road ride with Eddie O'Dea, and the classic 6 gap road ride. 6 gap is a famous ride that starts right near Dahlonega. It goes over 6 huge climbs and does some of the same roads that were used in the Tour of Georgia. The area is beautiful and the roads are dialed. It's a ride you have to do if you're ever in the area. Unfortunately the weather wasn't so good that day... temps in the 30's and rain. I started at the Hiker Hostil, right where the 5hr energy road team was holding their training camp. One of the riders came out just as I was suiting up. He looked at me like I was crazy. I guess it's not everyday you see a guy on a mountain bike with bagel wrappers over his shoes and a shower cap on his helmet ready to do a 100 mile road ride through the mountains in the rain by himself. But hey, I'm from Michigan, this stuff doesn't phase us. So get out there and get those miles in. The season is almost upon us! Thanks for checking in.