Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Race Report: Rumble in the Jungle 2012

When it's almost the end of Summer and the start of FSC is near it means it's time to RUMBLE in South Florida....Rumble in the Jungle that is! The popular South Florida fund raising race for the premier MTB trails at Markham Park took place this weekend with over 300 racers joining in the action. From Solo to Team racers would ride for 50 tough miles in what turned out to be decent conditions. While the threat of rain was looming most of the day, the showers never came, but clouds kept the racers covered from the hot August sun for much of the event. To make things easier for us our great sponsors at Bike Tech came out to support us with tents, food, drinks and mechanical help. HUGE thanks to Kelly and Paul for the help!! Here's our race report for the day. It's a long one!! (You can skip to the pics at the bottom if you like!!)

Leadout ATV getting the riders going 
While Markham is usually a challenging course to begin with, there is always a bit of home turf advantage for those that visit it more often. This time was completely different as the Trail Builders managed to turn Markham into what felt like a COMPLETELY new trail for all racers. Running sections backwards, and criss-crossing into other trails all but eliminated any advantages. At times I really had no idea what part of the park I was in. As Alex described perfectly, any "muscle memory" you had at Markham was pretty much useless on this day. 

At this event Eric N and myself (Eric G) would team up to conquer the 50 miles together in a 2-man team, alternating riders every lap. Our newly promoted "40+ Master" Alex S would show us young guys up and step up to the challenge solo! The huge rolling mass of racers was led out by an ATV along a nearly one mile stretch of fire road. Alex and Eric would start while I would wait for Eric to finish his lap. (took some of these pics while I waited)

Alex S and Eric N prepping for the start
In mass start races like this, getting around traffic is usually a challenge and this time would be no different. Despite the long fire road start, heading into the trails the guys would have to fight their way through slower riders as best they could. At one point midway through the first lap Alex would actually help Eric pass a group in an open section by giving him a good draft, even though it was at a higher pace than he should have been on considering he had seven more laps to go! It worked out though and Eric was clear to finish up lap one with a pretty decent time considering the traffic. We'd tag at the rider exchange zone and off I went. Alex wouldn't be to far behind at his own pace and set off on lap #2. My first lap was quite interesting to me. I knew I could go out hard since it was only one lap at a time, but also knew I had to do four laps and wanted to be consistent. This was my second race back after a back injury so I really wasn't sure how my body would respond but I was pretty satisfied a the end of the day.

Alex cheering as Eric G held on to a small gap at the finish
It's a long race so I'll skip to the end. After putting down what we thought were steady lap times, Eric came through on his last lap and tagged me, muttering something about we're ahead of Team "Fill in the blank" GO GO GO!!! So off I went as hard as I could!! I won't lie, I was tired and hoping that my back wouldn't give out. That last lap was as nervous as I'd been in awhile. My pace wasn't the same as the first lap, but not too far off either. I made it to the final trail without getting caught by any riders. But at what was like the LAST tricky obstacle I'd face, I took a dive on some sand. Completly stupid on my part, and making it worse was the handlebar swinging and hitting me right in the calf muscle, causing an excruciating cramp!! I screamed and flexed the muscle and thought to myself I wouldn't let this cause us much time so I managed to just get up and hop back on the bike just as other riders were approaching. As we exited the trail I looked back to see a rider with a "Team" number just behind me. Didn't know if he was in our class or not but I didn't want any regrets by letting him catch me. I'd hammer it as hard as I could in the fishing section to finish just ahead of him.

So how did we finish? That rider I held off turned out to be in our class. My one second margin over him gave us a 1 second margin over his team! When results were finally posted, we'd managed to finish 7th in class! A solid Top 10 result and we'll take it! Alex unfortunately would only muster 2 laps with a mechanical, but he played a great part in helping us during our breaks. Don't know much of what else happened in the event, but I do know that local pro Bob McCarty won the race despite starting a few MINUTES late!! Bob you're a beast!!

We hope you enjoyed our report. Take a look at the pics and if you see yourself feel free to grab the pic! Stay Tuned for our next report after the Oleta 100!

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