Monday, February 28, 2011

Southern Cross Recap...

Friday morning, I loaded up my old truck with my CX bike and gear but before I could hit the road, I went to my Friday morning classes.  This was the first time I have driven to campus.  I parked in the farthest student parking lot on campus and hopped on my bike to ride into class.  Two hours later, I returned to my truck to find a parking ticket on my windshield.  I read the ticket and it appears I was being ticketed for parking without a parking pass.  Since I never drive a car, I didn't even know I had to have a parking pass.  This $30 setback will hopefully be worked out when I pay a visit to the transportation office today and try to get it appeal. 

Anyhow, I got on the road and had a somewhat enjoyable trip to Georgia.  Heading out of Chattanooga, I found an awesome Outlaw Country radio station and was able to listen to that till I hit Elijay, Georgia.  Once in Dahlonega, I met up with my buddy Mark D. for a pre-ride of the winery portion of the Southern Cross course.  Right from the start, I realized this would be a tough CX course.  The start line narrowed into a course that winded down and around a steep hillside and down into a creek bottom then made a left turn straight into a run up that was about 150 feet long and super steep.  At the top of the runup, you got to ride back down the hill via a paved road and the out and up to the entrance of the property then out to the main loop.  Doing a little practice on the run up, I lifted my bike up in an odd manner and slightly pulled a muscle in my back.  At first, it wasn't  too painful but just a slight discomfort.  The next morning, I would realize otherwise.

Monteluce Winery CX Course
After the pre-ride, Mark D. and I grabbed some all you can eat spaghetti at Curuso's in town and I headed off to the Hiker Hostel for the evening.  At the hostel, I met some great people.  It seemed as though all the local bike blog celebrities were hanging out at the hostel for the weekend.  Of course, there was myself, then we had Andrea and sadly enough, we had to put up with Dicky all weekend.  All in all, we were in good company.  The next morning, we woke up to an awesome breakfast.  Josh and Leah know exactly how hikers and cyclist eat.  By 7:00am, we had a full spread laid out that included french toast, eggs, oatmeal and some awesome coffee!  The food was perfect but next time, I think I'll settle down on the coffee a little as to avoid a race start line need for a pee break.
Start Line
Dicky and I rode over to the race course around 8:30am where we got our race packets and caught up with the other racers.  Shortly after 10am, we were all lined up for the start.  Somehow, I found myself on the front row with 200 people behind me.  With a false start the turned out to actually be the official start, we were off.  Due to the initial false start by a few, I got sucked into the middle of the pack.  Luckily the front of the pack thinned out really quickly within the first few hundred yards and I was able to make my way back up towards the front.  I saw Dicky on the run up and tagged him as the person for me to watch since we were racing in the same class.  Right past the exit of the winery, I passed Dicky after catching a wheel of a guy with gears.  I held this wheel until part way into the gravel climb.  Once to the gravel climb, I was feeling good but knew I had a long way to go.  By this point, I was sitting in first place for the single speed class and right at the tail end of the main peleton.  Many of the geared guys dropped down into their climbing gear and took it easy up the first climb.  I, on the other hand, did not have the option of shifting.  So I got back on my saddle with my hands resting on the tops of my bars and mashed it out.  At about mile 11, I look back and see Dicky.  He's making a gain on me.  As I look back at him, he sees me and casts a huge smile and waves like a little kid seeing his best friend after returning from summer camp.  I didn't return the wave.  Instead, I became motivated to crank it out a little more.  Right before the first SAG stop, we hit an incline that was just ridiculously steep for my gearing (39x18).  I got off the bike and started pushing it.  By this time, Dicky and 3 other single speeders had passed me.  I was off the bike walking for a few minutes and kept seeing them get a little more distance on me.

Signing autographs for my many fans! :)
Eventually, I made it to the top of Springer Mountain and began our long descent.  This long descent was awesome.  It was pretty steep, fast and flowing.  I'm not sure how many miles it lasted but it definitely was a great break to the previous 15 miles.  At the bottom of this descent, we hit a paved road that continued for a few miles.  I was hoping that this section would benefit me with my gear setup.  I was able to tuck down and at some points, I would spin real fast to give a little extra push.  At the end of this paved road, we were back on the gravel.  This section was beautiful!  The road made a gentle climb for several miles back up to the SAG stop and paralleled a beautiful creek.  If anything, this section distracted me from thinking about the pain in my legs.  While in this section, another racer, Cody B. came up beside me.  He was riding a pretty rad Rock Lobster frame.  We chatted a little bit and he was cool with me drafting his wheel on the flats and descents.  We ended up riding together for the rest of the race.
SAG Stop
After the SAG stop, we hit a few rollers and then descended into a long and bumpy downhill section.  At first, I was feathering the breaks as to not get a pinch flat but then realized that breaking was only worsening the bumpiness.  So I let loose and tried to stay on top of the bumps.  We finally descended to the paved road where we had about 6 miles to the finish.  I found this to be a huge relief and my adrenaline took over.  Cody took the front on the pull and carried me to the entrance of the winery.  At that point, I went off the front in hopes of catching any of the single speeders.  To my surprise, I caught the 4th place single speeder right before hitting the winery.  I still didn't have Dicky or any of the other guys in my sights.  Instead of making any stupid moves and hindering my position, I played it somewhat safe.  I made it up the run up and through the rest of the course to finally cross the finish line at 3 hours and 49 minutes and captured the 4th place finish in the single speed class!

I was pretty impressed with my finish as I honestly didn't know what to expect for this race.  I definitely gave it my all throughout the course and felt pretty strong.  If I could have changed anything, it would have been my gearing.  Next year, I'll probably run a 39x19 or 39x20 gear to help out with the climbing.  I would also like to thank the great folks who make ibuprofin.  That little red pill became my life saver throughout the race.  After the pills wore off, my back was and still is killing me.  Maybe a little yoga and I'll be feeling alright.

The Hiker Hostel
Back at the hostel, beers were shared and good times had.  We turned in somewhat early and again woke to a great breakfast on Sunday morning.  I can't mention enough about how awesome the hostel is!  If you are ever in the Dahlonega area and need a place to stay, you can't beat the $17 cost of the Hiker Hostel.  Sunday morning was spent driving back to Murfreesboro and searching for that Outlaw Country radio station.  I made it home safe and was happily welcomed by my beautiful wife.  Overall, this was a great weekend.  I cannot thank Eddie and Namrita with 55Nine for all their work that was put into such a great race!  This will be back on my race calendar for the future!

More pictures will be uploaded as they become available.


  1. Cool report. Lotta fun(okay, it wasn't at the time, but it is now...) out there and good meeting you afterward (I was the one in the AHTBM jersey). Still diggin' your bike.
    Glad to know that others did the hike-a-bike on that first climb and not just us at the back.

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