Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Race Report & Pics: FSC 2012 #6 Markham Park

Eric G here with our race report for FSC #6 at Markham Park, our home race AND the start of the Coconut Cup Series as well! The Markham event is usually HUGE and had additional buzz going due to an excellent course designed by Richard Butler with the help of a few more guys from the excellent Markham Park Trail Crew, and some technical input from Bob McCarty. The continuation of the show between Pro Class leader McCarty, Ryan Woodall, and local strongman Alex Zambrana, who's recent form was sure to make this an amazing showdown! 

Trails were perfect for the event

Leading up to the event, the area was drenched by feeder bands of Hurricane Sandy, but minimal wind damage meant the trail was perfect for the weekend. By the time race day arrived conditions were perfect! As usual Markham brings an unrelenting course with short punch climbs, long flat windy fireroads, and not much downhill to recover on. Tight and twisting through the singletrack means racers are always on the gas. Throw in the technical Gun Range section and climbs from Jet Ski and Ted's Twisted Trail (and their tricky decents!) would have racers on edge all race. 

Eric N was in XC3 19-29 ready to go. 24 racers and a narrow start line meant a second row start for Eric. He didn't get a clean start and almost go dumped into the bushes lining up the start loop by another rider. Tried to gain some spots before the trail but it didn't work out too well and went in about mid teens. he managed to pick off a few riders through the first lap and was moving up but dropped his bottle in a moment of real need. He turned back to pickup losing a couple of spots and then continued, crossing the first lap in 16th. The hydration drama continued as confusion in the pits had him missing his bottle for the entire second lap! A bit dejected he pressed on but knew he needed to be safe with no water and a warm day. He was a little motivated passing a rider fixing a flat (Sorry Boyco!) and gave it a go again to catch another rider on the approach to Gun Range. He was back in full attack after this and tried to keep him away. Coming down the final stretch he had a decent gap, but a properly timed glance back gave him the view of a full on sprint by his chaser trying to close the gap. They hit the final turn with Eric holding a small gap and turning on a final sprint to cross the line in 14th. After missing the last 2 races with newborn baby duty, it was a tough race, but he ended up with the best result for him in the new class and held off someone for position. Good fun at the end of the day. 

XC3 30+ was back to it's normal PACKED self with 46 racers lined up to start. So busy that I got to the line 30 minutes early and front row was already locked out! I settled in to a spot and nervously protected my space as racers began crowding the start. The horn went off and I couldn't get a nice launch from row two so I patiently bided my time. It was a long flat start until the first trail so I got rolling at was sitting about 18th down the final stretch to the trail and hit it hard, weaving through riders and finally cut an inside line to roll in 7th into the trail! Good spot to be. I had to let a rider by early on and sat in 8th for rest of the lap. When I hit the exit fireroad I looked back and had about a 20 second gap! Problem was I was in no man's land. I had a long windy road by myself and a group of 6 guys from my class working together to catch me!! Coming through the finish line I still had a small gap on my chasers, but promptly butchered the warm up loop entrance (#$%&^@#$!) and lost it all. They were back on my wheel. Admittedly I felt a bit deflated and a few trails later wound up getting passed by 2 riders at once and just couldn't keep up the pace at that moment. I got myself going again though but out of the trail alone, AGAIN, I was caught by 2 more riders on the way to Gun Range. I wouldn't let them go without a fight this time and jumped on their wheel. I hung with them for a few more trails another bobble after the Jet Ski climb gave them a small gap that I just couldn't close. I hit the final fire road and I could see them just about 10 seconds away but couldn't close them down. I out sprinted someone from another class to the finish just for pride and crossed the line in 13th. Best result of the season and most competitive I've felt in awhile!

Woodall would lead early on
The Pro race was what everyone was eager to see. Of the 5 races in the series so far, McCarty & Woodall had taken 1st or 2nd place in all of them (not including one Woodall DNS) McCarty was points leader, but the "virtual" edge went to Woodall by 2 points factoring in the allowed race drop. Include Ben Talbot from 352 Racing, Super Cool Bike Shop racers Martin Cox & Shawn Smith and Alex Zambrana from Z's Bike Shop (another South Florida favorite) and there was some serious firepower at the start line! 

McCarty would grab the strong win
At the start it was a tight group, but mid way through the first lap it was clear that the trio of McCarty, Woodall and Zambrana were at another level. They came through lap one, wheel-to-wheel-to-wheel, with almost a 1 minute lead on everyone else. They would stay like this until lap 3 when McCarty would come through with a small gap over a hard charging Woodall and Zambrana a few seconds behind him. This was going to be an amazing finish! As everyone anxiously waited it was McCarty who would come out of the woods first with no sign of Woodall and Zambrana! He cruised through the finish with nearly a 90 second win over Woodall! Zambrana would be about 10 seconds back of that for a strong third place. It was truly an amazing show and sets the stage for the remaining three races of the series!

 Wanted to give a big thank you to Karina and Osmar from our sponsor Bike Tech who were out as a race sponsor for supporting us and anyone else, with food and drinks and mechanical support all day! Our next race takes us to Alva for FSC #8. Enjoy the pics below and leave a comment to let us know how your race went!!

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