Saturday, February 25, 2012

Southern Cross, Sort of.

For me, "Southern 'Cross" was "Southern MTB".  It was a great opportunity to dial in my new endurance racing bike before 6 Hours of Warrior Creek and Cohutta 100.

Southern Cross is a 50 mile Ultra Cross Series race.  It is primarily gravel and fire roads with some pavement and traditional Cyclocross course stuff thrown in.  We left from the beautiful Montaluce Winery and Estates at 10:00am (ish) in sunny, cool conditions (I would later see a frozen puddle at the top of one of the climbs).  The course begins with a traditional 'cross course, complete with run up and a fallen tree dismount.  It didn't take long until we were out on the road, the road turned to gravel and pointed upward.  There is basically 2 big, big climbs with a rest area (the same one) at the top of each climb.  Somehow I missed the first one.  No big deal.  I carried enough stuff with me that I was prepared to skip it.  Lot's of descending goes hand-in-hand with lot's of climbing and Southern CX doesn't disappoint.  It was the one place I had an advantage on the MTB.  I could bomb the descents and not worry about pinch flatting or if my brakes were gonna be able to slow me down.  I saw a lot of CX bikes with mechanicals along the way.

The 2nd climb was a little more gradual, but that only made it longer.  This time when I got to the top, I did stop at the aid station to refill a water bottle.  I've been passing people all day long, and going back and forth with some of the fast single speed guys.  By now there aren't many MTB's around and the competition is a bit spread out.  I take every opportunity to make up time where I can.  Pedaling the descents and standing on the climbs.  When we hit the road I managed to pass a few more riders, but a MTB is not a good match for a CX bike on pavement and I did get passed by a couple of riders.  After 5 or 6 miles on the open road we turned off into Montaluce again for more agony on the cyclocross course.  I crossed the Start/Finish line at 3:28 which beat my goal time of 3:30 and was good enough for 6th place in a deep 40+ field.  Not bad for a MTB in a CX race.

The bike performed flawlessly.  From the Rotor rings to the Hayes Gram brakes everything worked awesome.  The Vee Rubber V12 tires worked great and rolled super fast.  I think this is the set-up I'm going to use at Warrior Creek in a few weeks.

See you  on the trails!

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