Friday, October 21, 2011

FSC #4 2011 - Alafia Race Report & Photos

Alex just before Rabbit Ears
Eric G here with our race report for race #4 of Gone Riding's Florida State Cup. With the first 3 races of the season bringing us smooth, flowing XC race friendly courses, it was time for a change. Tight trails, technical sections, fast drops, and the longest laps of the season greeted the racers at Alafia River State Park near Tampa, Florida. The key here is good positioning going into the first trail as the first few miles are mostly bench cut along the river and streams, which doesn't allow for much passing room. If you manage to start well you must then have the endurance to keep the race pace while successfully navigating over rooty climbs, white knuckle fast drops and swooping roller coasters topped off by the hardest section at the END of the lap.

Eric playing catchup

XC3 30-39 field was a large 33 riders and off we went. I spent too much time warming up and got to the line late and started in the 2nd row. Alex got a descent start in the high teens. I got to start LAST....That's right LAST going into the first trail...Unfortunately got my handlebar hooked at the whistle and turned right into the rider to my right. It was either fall or stop, so I stopped and watched the entire field ride off. My chain popped off the chainring also, so I got everything sorted out and took off with a was going to be a long day. No disrespect to anyone in my class, but being way back there I just wanted to yell for everyone to get out of my way because I was clearly faster than them at least. But hey it's racing, so I passed when I could, but when there was a HUGE gap already 2 minutes in I knew any chance of a decent finish was gone. Alex was going ok but got caught up in an early pileup and lost a few spots. Sitting in 21st he managed to catch 2 riders from our class but couldn't manage to get around them. About midway through the lap a 40+ rider got in the mix and took a dive costing Alex some more spots while he got rolling again. By then I'd been rolling solo for sometime (turns out I was 25th..yaaaayyy...) and I saw Alex in the tough Roller Coaster Trail. As bad as I felt to chase my own teammate, I had to do it. I was closing down until I got distracted by riders coming behind me. I looked back and noticed they were in another class, but I took a tumble that knocked the wind out of me, and likely cost me the pass on Alex. Rest of the race was uneventful for both of us and we crossed 24th and 25th respectively. Pretty disappointing for both of us considering how much we like this trail.

Drew Edsall with the Pro win
( Photo courtesy of Spoken Chain Magazine)
The schedule was a little different this race, so when we arrived the Pro's had already started the first wave. These guys would be riding 3 laps (30 miles) of this course!!! After the first lap, teammates Drew Edsall (just off his 4th place at the Pisgah Stage Race) and Martin Cox had a small lead on 3rd place Allison Anjos. They stayed close together through the 2nd lap as well, with Edsall finally putting some time on Cox for the win. Anjos had a considerable slowdown on lap 3 (Mechanical?) but held on for 3rd place.

Next we get a 3 week break (Skipping FSC #5 Alachua) until our home race at Markham Park, which also kicks off the Coconut Cup series. It's been a tough start to the season, but hopefully we'll get some home turf advantage to turn our season around. Thanks for reading as always and enjoy some pics below!! Good luck to everyone in Alachua!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coming Up: FSC 2011 #4 - Alafia River State Park

Race #4 on the FSC calendar will take us to Alafia River State Park near Tampa. This course features the longest laps on the schedule nearing 10 miles per lap. Fast, flowing, roller coasters and technical are all pretty accurate descriptions. It's always a fun course for us to visit. Enjoy a flashback (courtesy of ProEdgeBiker) to 2009 and my infamous Endo early in the race! See everyone at the races! Race report to follow!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

FSC #3 2011 - Gainesville Race Report & Photos

A view down into the quarry pit
Climbing in Florida? Most people wouldn't believe it. But that's exactly what Hailes Trails bring to the FSC every year. Carved out of an old rock quarry, the course brings almost 300 feet of climbing per lap in addition to some sweet XC singletrack to racers, and is only open twice a year. The combination makes it one of the most popular courses on the schedule and was the location of the 2011 FSC Race #3. 

Julio wouldn't make this event so Alex and I (Eric G) were representing along with our honorary teammate for the weekend Eric N (Alex's nephew) who would be racing in his first FSC event! The drives to the FSC events are always an adventure and this time was no different as we managed to pack 3 racers worth of gear into a Honda Fit (Think packed like a circus clown car) Saturday would host a Team Time Trial, (Congrats on Team Pro Tech for the victory)  but without Julio we didn't have enough riders, so we pre-rode the course for a few hours and showed our noob the ropes a bit. 

Keeping away from Ivy!
Sunday arrived and conditions couldn't be more perfect. High 60's and not a cloud in the sky present at race time. The XC3 class had it's biggest field of the season so far with 41 riders at the start. Alex and I didn't line up early enough and had to start from the 2nd row but still managed decent starts and were in the mid teens into the first single track. I proceeded to nearly endo on the first technical drop and Alex calmly averted disaster and passed me. I'd recover and quickly gain my spot back with a hard effort in the clearing to the next section (Sorry buddy) 

Now here's the kicker. That last description was a perfect example of the kind of luck I had all race! I butchered the first major climb when I took the alternate line and was derailed by another rider and had to push up half the climb. I'd gain some spots back, and dismount again in traffic. Gain a few spots...well, you get the point!! I was feeling great but Lady Luck just wasn't on my side this day. She finally had her last laugh when I had managed to fight back into 17th with a stronger 2nd lap and some nice tactics when, I dropped my chain on the 2nd to last climb!!! I'd lose THREE spots just getting the chain un-jammed from the cranks. I was so upset about the events that had just occurred that I almost allowed another rider to pass me on the final stretch. I managed to hold him off for 20th. Considering how good I was feeling this day, I was pretty disappointed. Unfortunately for Alex his day didn't go much better and had a DNF with a major drivetrain issue on the first lap. 

Only having started riding a few months ago, Eric N had a great taste of the excitement of XC racing. In the novice class he started like a bat out of hell and was first into the trails!! Lost a couple of spots early in his lap and was in 3rd for a bit. Then faded at the end to finish 7th. Top 10 in his first race, not too shabby! 

The Pro battle for 1st
The Pro class was exciting as always. It quickly became a race for 1st between Ryan Woodall and Victor Alber as the gapped the field early and never looked back. They'd stay together until the last lap when Woodall would get away for the win. The fight for 3rd was as exciting with Martin Cox and Allison Anjos in a similar battle, with Cox sneaking away for 3rd on the last lap. 

Anytime you can get out and race it's still fun, so even though our results didn't show it, we still had a great time.  The legs were really feeling good this weekend even though things didn't go well. Hopefully FSC #4 in Alafia will be the race we put things together for some results this season. Enjoy the pics below and thanks for following along with us! See you in Tampa in 2 weeks!!