Monday, February 28, 2011

2011 Southern Cross

With the kids on mid winter break and family down in Georgia, no other excuse was needed to head out and participate in the 2011 edition of Southern Cross. What was supposed to be a junior race for Mason, with her grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles being able to come out and support/watch her, turned out to be something different altogether. We got an email from the promoter stating that the 30 minute junior race was cancelled due to lack of participants. They were kind enough to offer Mason an upgrade to the 'Citizen Race' - a toned down version of the full 50 mile cross race. So after a few emails back and forth with the promoter, it was decided that I would chaperon Mason on the 30 mile course. So we went from a 30 minute race to a 30 mile race!
Just before heading to the start line - all Smiles!
We ended up getting a little turned around heading out to the race, but stopped in town at the local coffee shop and actually ran into a guy who worked at the winery where the race was being held.  He pointed us in the right direction and off we went.  We definitely cut it a lot closer than I normally like to, but it took us about 30 minutes longer to reach the venue than I thought.  With a quick walk through the registration line, we got ready, rode up the hill to the start and were greeted with the following.
There were a couple hundred starters
Yeah, there were a lot of starters at the race.  Mason rolled into place without me while I took a few pictures.  I then took my place next to her in order to 'chaperon' her on the ride.  She is like an old pro on the line.  As soon as the first wave (50 milers) went off, Mason eased her way right up to the front of the group.

Ready to CLIMB
We left the line along with about 50 other riders doing the Citizen's Race.  Mason jumped right in and was rolling with everyone else, making some sweet passes along the way.  There was one steep drop with a culvert at the bottom that I was praying she would not take a digger on.  She rolled it, got a little squirly coming out, but still hit it at speed and made it through.  It was off through the winery and we were somewhere around the top 20 making some sweet passes on steep little ups which were somewhat slick.  Having the mountain bikes helped through the starting sections for sure.  Then we hit the forced run up.  It was pretty damn steep.  I told Mason that I was going to ride it, she said she was going to walk.  The guy next to her chuckled at her response.  Either that or that fact that I said that I was going to ride up.  I might have been the only person in the 30 mile race to ride up the hill.   Everyone was tripping out.  I do not think anyone believed someone could ride it because no one moved out of my way as I was calling out 'on your right'.  Seriously, no one even remotely stepped out of the way.  The Stijl 29er was laying it down.  Well, being that Mason is only 11, her strength is not quite on par with adults, so she got passed by the entire field by the time she reached to top of the run up.  The only bonus was that is allowed me to be congratulated quite a few times on my accomplishment of climbing the hill.  Little to no consolation for Mason, though.
Started on the road...
We were off to the road that linked to the dirt.  We rode for a few miles before we actually hit the dirt.  We knew at this point we were trailing everyone.  It got hot quick and we took a break to peel off the warm layers.
Quickly turned to dirt - and warmed up!

Heading up the road
The climb up the road was long and it got really steep at the end.  Mason is a billy goat, though.  She only walked about 300 yards of the entire 30 miles.  I have no doubt that she did not do the most walking that day.  We had a solid hour of climbing, which was a first for Mason.  She rolled in the middle chainring for the majority of the day and only dipped into the granny for the steepest portions of the ride.  
This looks deceptively flat in the picture
Once we hit the top of the big climb, there were a series of rollers that had us smiling from ear to ear.  The climbs started to seem shorter and shorter after the 'big climb'.  Then we started to hit some big descents - again, a first for Mason.  She was rolling right on my wheel the entire way down.  We did catch on guy on the way down and made our first downhill pass!  We were about to catch a group of about 7 people when I looked back and no more Mason.  The washboard road was taking its toll and Mason had to back off.  At the end of a few descents, Mason would ride up next to me and exclaim how much fun she was having.  The last 6 miles were on the road and there were a lot of ups and downs.  We rode back into the winery and came up to one sick run up.  It was twice as long and steeper than the first one!  The Stijl did not let me down, after huffing it up the ridiculous bank, I proceeded to ride that beast.  I think it took Mason 5 minutes to climb it, pushing her bike.  She actually had to shoulder the Anthem in order to get up the first part of the 'run up'.  We made our way back through the winery on the CX course, which was reverse of when we started.  The start was a lot of fun because it was all downhill - yeah, that means all uphill on the way back!  The cool part was that Mason rode all of it minus one short steep portion - mostly because she had to pee so bad that she stopped right there and hit the woods for a quick nature break.  It was quite amusing since we were literally 3 minutes from the finish line.  Monica and Joni were waiting for us as we rode up towards the finish.  It was cool when Monica said that she had been watching everyone walk the last part of the course only to see us come up riding the entire thing!  Mason is a billy goat for sure.  It must not have been too bad, because she was all smiles at the end of the day.  When I asked her if she would do it again her response was - "not today".  If it fits our schedule, we will be back foregoing the junior race and heading straight for the real deal.
It must not have been too bad - all SMILES again!
I always say that the cycling community is great and this event proved to be no different.  Eddie & Namrita O'Dea of 55 Nine Performance were both extremely nice and accommodating in upgrading Mason to the adult race.  The event was well run and we had no issues at all.  There were a ton of people encouraging Mason along the way and some that took the time at the end of the day to find and congratulate her on a great ride.  It is that kind of support in the cycling community that helps develop future riders.  Mason was by far the youngest one out there, but everyone she ran into made her feel welcome.  She also accomplished her goal of finishing ahead of at least one person.  If it were not for the nature break, it very well could have been two.  We had a great time and I can say with confidence that Mason's perspective on riding is forever changed - for the better.

On a side note, I would like to thank Hinmaton for making my ride possible.  Since Mason has inherited my Giant and the team bikes are in the works, I am sans a ride.  I now have about 40 hours on his bike.  Thanks again Hinmaton!


  1. Congrats! I definitely remember y'all passing me early on. And, I can assure you, I walked a lot more than 300 yards of that climb! Whew!

  2. That sounds awesome!! Mason is going to tear it up at Hilbert.

  3. impressive ride. sounds like she walked less of the climbs than i did.

    and way to ride that run up. that thing was evil.

  4. Wow - congrats on finishing strong - great pictures, too!

  5. Way to go Mason. My daughter is 8 and we are just now getting into mountain biking. Your story will be an aspiration to her. Keep it up mountain goat!

  6. Congrats on a great race. My daughter is turning 5 in July and tries to ride her bike with her dad whenever possible. This was a great blog and story to give us something to look forward to. Since there are no MTB for five year olds, we are starting with a micro Redline BMX bike this summer. See you in a few years at some races.

    - Dave Gearhart

  7. Excellent job Mason! You put me to shame with what you decide to tackle!

  8. I am so proud of you Mason, you keep getting stronger and stronger. You are inspiration to all riders out there and epically to the youngsters. I am hopefully going to see you race this year. I love you.......Keep up the great work.....DM