Friday, February 28, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup #6 2014 - Virginia Key

The race report catch-up game continues! Back again for the SECOND time this week (some kind of record) with our race report for Round #6 of the Coconut Cup at Virginia Key. Here we go!

For the second year, the Coconut Cup returned to Virginia Key for quite possibly the most scenic course location in the series, maybe even the state. Dropped on an island just outside of the City of Miami, Virginia Key has been through many phases in it's history. From a abandoned Military site, a "Colored Only" beach from the '40s to '60s, Closed down in the 80s, then officially reopened to the public in 2008 as an ecological preserve. Under the hard work of the Virginia Key Bicycle Club, the trails first opened in 2011 at approximately 4 miles, and have grown closer to 7 miles, this beautiful location has become a host to multiple Mountain Bike, running and adventure races year round. With some of the views unlike any other in the region, it's no surprise there's been such a quick growth of the trails.

Battled this guy the whole race
(Photo by Mickey Rivera)
Between schedule conflicts and one nagging injury, I would be the only one racing on the day despite battling a stomach bug earlier in the week. After blasting off at the start of the Markham race, and probably not recovered from the stomach thing ( I lost like 4lbs, not good) I decided to go back to a conservative approach and save some energy at the start to hopefully have it left at the end. 12 of us were off at the start and a missed clip in to the pedal sent me right to the back of the group. Perfect I thought, no sense in sprinting to pass half the pack now since I'll be shot after that. I caught on to the tail end of the group and entered the trail last. The pace was solid and we were still connected to the train of riders but my HR wasn't through the roof for once, but my legs were feeling heavy due to the lack of riding leading up to the race. The first trail opens up to a bit of a "dual slalom" type section. My long time racing buddy/rival Pablo Valdevieso was up ahead of me and feeling not so hot so I decided to get around him. Another rider that I think was in my class seemed to have dropped out quick with a mechanical. Great I thought, 2 positions just like that. The next rider wasn't too far ahead and I'd catch up quickly through the trails. On the flats though this guy liked to put down some power, which I just didn't have, so I let him go and focused on catching him in the trails. We ended up playing this game for the first two laps. He'd hammer the flats, and I'd chase down in the trails. I'd pass him, he passed me. It was actually quite fun. Lap 3 came up and we were together. I decided I'd finally need to make a hard effort on a flat and keep him away. I was using a Camelbak for the first time in an XC race so I didn't have to slow in the feed area for a bottle. He did. That's when I made a hard effort and opened up a decent gap. For the rest of the lap I had my head on a swivel, constantly looking back, nervous that I'd get caught. Probably should have just focused on keeping my pace. but ultimately I stopped seeing him in the trails close by. Great I though! I even backed off on my pace in the final two trails, when suddenly, my good friend PABLO was just 3 turns behind me again! We were in the last trail so I managed to keep my lead but I was sure reminded that you can't let off the gas until the very end. End result was 9th on the day and my best finish on the season.

McCarty putting down the winning effort
Enough about me! Pro/Expert field was up and just as in the past events this would boil down to a two man battle. Bob McCarty and Allison Anjos were at their own level right from the start. To get an idea of how fast these guys are, their pace was nearly 17MPH for the day! Lap after lap, just like the previous race at Markham, McCarty and Anjos battled wheel to wheel for the entire race. Last time Allison held off Bob with a finishing kick to the finish. This time McCarty would make sure it wouldn't come down to that. With a powerful surge near the end of the final lap, Bob would put down his 2nd fastest lap of the day and lightly crack Anjos escaping by nearly 45 seconds on the final lap to take the win. Anjos would cruise in comfortably in 2nd. Alex was taking photos and caught a picture at the end and said the usually effortless looking McCarty really had the look of someone putting down a massive effort to get away.

That's it for today. Our season technically ends here however the racing continues as we now start our 2014-2015 schedule with some Endurance races. First one was actually already done as of this writing with the 12 Hours of Santos. Enjoy the pics and come back next week for our Santos report!

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