Crossroads Classic wraps up at Salisbury City Park
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Two years ago, Megan Baxter had open- heart surgery to repair a defect. But on Sunday, the now 14-year-old participated in her first Giordana Crossroads Classic cycling competition.
Megan, of Raleigh, participated in Sunday’s City Park Circuit Race, which was part of a five-day event of the 11th annual Giordana Crossroads Classic.
Three of the five races were in Salisbury. The event began Wednesday in Concord and concluded Sunday in Salisbury. The Salisbury-Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau was the primary sponsor for this year’s event.
Megan began racing in September and races with team Raleigh All-Stars.
This isn’t Megan’s first time in Salisbury, but it is her first time in competition. She’s been a spectator in the past while watching her mother, Robin, and father, John, compete in previous races held in Salisbury.
Just about every weekend Megan’s racing, she said.
“She’s my biggest teammate,” John said of his daughter.
Megan rides about four to five days a week. She would love to see more girls her age compete, she said.
Megan was the only female in the Juniors race and won third place in her age division.
“Salisbury is a super place to come,” Robin said.
The Baxters like that the Crossroads Classic is a family-oriented race. They enjoy visiting Salisbury.
“We like to support the sponsors and try to spend money in Salisbury. There’s a lot of competitors from all over the U.S. here,” Robin said.
Sam Winters, 15, was back in familiar territory. Sam, of Lynchburg, Va., is a Salisbury native.
He competed in a couple of races this weekend. He won second place overall in the Juniors division.
Sam began racing nine months ago. He met a couple of riders who introduced him to riding.
“I met the right people at the right time,” he said.
He’s already competed in 15 races this year. He usually competes in one race a weekend.
Sam trains every day. He’s a part of Dire Wolf Racing in Lynchburg.
“This course is pretty good. I’m a climber,” he said prior to the race.
Sam, like most competitors, took a lap through the course just to get a feel for it.
The course had quite a few hills and curves.
“The corners are pretty fast,” he said.
Race Director Neal Boyd said the goal was to keep people in Salisbury as much as possible.
With the race in Salisbury it provided “as much as an economic impact on the community as possible,” Boyd said.
Boyd hopes to return next year.
“We had our biggest year ever,” he said.
In five days there were about 1,500 participants or an average of 300 cyclists a day.
The race also took place in Statesville.
Boyd said one of the changes this year was adding two races, the High Rock Road Race and the City Park Circuit Race.
“Everybody liked the change,” he said.
The biggest hurdle is getting early commitments from sponsors.
Boyd hopes to stick to the same format next year.
“As long as the CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) is happy,” he said.
Boyd said there couldn’t have been an event without the support of the visitor’s bureau. He also was grateful to law enforcement including the Salisbury Police Department and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office for keeping the cyclist safe as well as the spectators.
“Their support was absolutely amazing,” Boyd said.
Devin Reavis, 14, of Elkin, began competitively racing this year, but has been riding since he was 9.
“These are my first real races,” Devin said.
Prior to the race, Devin gave considerable thought to the course.
“There are some turns that are iffy,” he said.
Other than the turns, Devin thought the course was “pretty easy.”
His mother, Susan, and father, Richard, who were both standing on the sidelines, camera in hand, cheering Devin on throughout the race.
“I’m proud of him. I think he has a good chance,” Susan said prior to the race.
Richard cycled and Devin began thinking about cycling.
“I decided I wanted to do it,” Devin said.
Father and son ride with Cycle North Carolina and are sponsored by Hearts Racing Club in Winston-Salem.
Devin won in Saturday’s High Rock Road Race. He also won first place in his division for the Juniors category.
Marcel Gutierrez, 13, competed in his first Salisbury race. He began racing last year.
Gutierrez, of Columbus, NC, grew up watching his father, Bert, race.
Both Marcel and Bert competed in Sunday’s City Park Circuit Race — Bert in the Masters 35+ and his son in the Juniors.
“My dad was racing by the time I was born. I started liking it,” Marcel said.
Marcel races with Team MS out of Winston-Salem.
“He just loves to do it,” Bert said.
Of his three sons, Marcel is the only one who is a serious competitor.
Marcel has competed in more than 20 races since he began competing. He’s usually racing every other weekend.
He got to ride on the course prior to the race.
Of the course, Marcel said, it seemed challenging, “lots of hills an the corners are fast.”
Marcel won second place in his age division for the Juniors category.
Ashlyn Woods, 14, of Greensboro, was old enough to compete in the juniors race, but entered the women’s category 4 on Sunday and also Saturday’s High Rock Road Race.
“I started in January. My dad got me interested in it and he races,” Ashlyn said.
Ashlyn’s father Chris Woods is also a cyclists.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.