February 22, 2014 Christian Leask

Southern Cross – First person account by Nicholas Van Winkle

Bike & Race Stats (in no good order)

Bike: Litespeed Ti CX

Wheels: Easton EC90 SL

Tires: Challenge Grifo (32 lbs front and rear)

Bottles: 2 Clif Electrolyte Hydration

Food: 5 gels/1 block(s)

Time: 3H 1M 30S

Distance: 50M

Starters: 200+

Temperature: 60+

Conditions: Dry


Bit frantic.  Abandoned my strict pre-race schedule for a more loosely interpreted free-style.  This did not serve.  I was pumping my tires and searching for my glasses 5 minutes out.  No warm-up.


Race Start

Perceived was at 11 (probably due to no warm-up).  Run-ups in the ‘cx course’ seemed 30% and miles.  Horrible.  Hit the paved section top ten, thought about hell being real and here on earth, rolled behind and recovered.


First Climb

Winding Stair.  Terribly geared (34/25). Sitting second wheel behind Mr. Turner when he slow motion dropped me on the 25% stuff.  Had around 30 seconds on me by the top.  He had a mountain biker with him, then me sitting third, then an unknown gap to a group behind.  Was too wrecked to turn around and look.


First Descent

Alone.  Both exhilarating and terrifying.  Those two aren’t easily separated.  At the bottom Turner had a minute and a half.  Jesus, how?  I was ready to classify my decent as daredevil.  Probably around 22 miles in at this point


Second Climb

Small group of 4 comes back to me at the climb’s entrance.  We quickly recollect the mountain biker and now were climbing as a group of 5 (3 CX, 2 MTB).  We worked well together; pace was high moderate.  An attack from a fellow CX’er on a steeper section shed everyone but myself.  The two of us then worked together to hold it.


Second Descent

Somehow faster and more dangerous than the first.  Hidden ruts in most high-speed corners that you had to slide through and jump simultaneously.  A brakeless 40+ in the straightaways.  A mountain biker managed to bring us back by the bottom.  Then there were 3 chasing Turner (not really, he had 3 minutes at this point) probably with 6 mostly paved miles to go.


Final CX Section

The 3 of us came in together.   One of the 3 rode full speed into what clearly required a dismount.  Then there were 2.  Then an agonizing run-up; it felt like I was sprinting.   An observer might describe my pace some sort of panicked standing crawl, graceless and deflating of human spirit.  All the same, I got a small gap and held it.  So 2nd overall and very happy with it.


Conclusions and Reflections

Southern Cross is a class event top to bottom.  The Dahlonega area maintains stunning forest service roads and beautiful landscapes.  It was a true pleasure to race in such scenery.  An enormous thanks to the Litespeed-BMW team for making it possible.

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