Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Race Report & Pics: FSC 2012 #3 - Gainesville

This weekend took FSC racers to everyone's favorite "climbers" course, Hailes Trail. Eric G here with our race report for FSC #3.

In addition to great riding, Hailes has some nice views
With approximately 350 feet of climbing per lap, Hailes Trails is one of the toughest race courses in the State. Long enough climbs to have to pace yourself, but not enough downhills to recover. Redline here and you're in trouble. Finish the lap off with the "Islands" and you're legs are burning the entire lap! The weekend would be a busy one. Saturday was the makeup Individual Time Trial after the rain out in Tallahassee and Sunday was the main event. The course was in perfect conditions but temperatures were HOT. Racers were either out riding or hiding in the shade the whole day Saturday. By the time the ITT came around everyone was sweating at the line as if they'd just completed a lap.

Eric G fighting one of the climbs
Sunday rolled around and once the morning clouds cleared the Sun was out in full force again. My Garmin had 93 degrees at the line before the start! XC3 30+ wasn't as large as usual with 26 riders at the line. I really wanted a good start, too bad it was terrible! Missed the pedal COMPLETELY while trying to click in after the whistle and was instantly behind half the racers. Sitting somewhere mid pack at the start of the race is never a good thing. Sure enough, into the next trail, someone took a dive in front of me. I had to come to a complete stop and watch the group ride away. Got rolling again. Chased hard to close the gap and was back with the group after bombing down the first downhill. Hit the first extended climb but the quick step up to the long climb is tricky as you land right onto a heavily rutted section as you're starting the climb. The rider just in front of me got hung up a bit there forcing me to take a risky line and I failed at it. I'd have to run up half the climb before remounting, meanwhile watching what felt like the rest of my class pass me by before I hopped on the bike again. All this, in the first 7 minutes of racing....The rest of the race I was playing catch up. Managed to pick off a handful of riders but at that point it was just for pride. I chased back to 20th before not being able to gain any more ground. I had 19th in my sights but was gassed before hitting the final climbing section and had to settle for just maintaining my position. The new Scott Spark 29er was great. No mechanicals and it will definitely be a fast machine once I learn to ride it. This was only the 4th time I'd ridden the bike so I know I can be faster on it. Just need to see where the edge of the envelope is and I'll be in good shape. Gotta get on it quick though!! Still have three races in the next four weeks. Not a good time to be learning a new bike!

Alex nearing the finish
Alex would roll off in XC3 40+ for the first time in the age group. I joked that he was a rookie again! He got off to a solid start and was near the Top 10 for most of the race. His new class buddy, Ivan De Rosa and he were riding hard together back and forth through the race picking off riders and trading places for most of the two laps. Nearing the end of the race a hangup at a tricky section cost Alex a few spots however. Chasing down on him was one more rider that he'd hold off, crossing the line in 16th. Ivan finished 12th so Alex could have finished with a more solid placing at the end of the day had things gone better.

The Pros brought a show for everyone as usual. The season's top two performers went at it again. Bob McCarty and Ryan Woodall each have a win and a second place so far this season, so naturally they TIED on Saturday during the TT, posting IDENTICAL times. How's THAT for competition? Sunday would be no  different. For FIVE laps they'd battle, coming though the finish line each time wheel to wheel. Even posting the same time AGAIN on the 4th lap! On the final lap Woodall, near the last climbing sections, would finally make an attack that would stick, and would cross the line with the win, just eeking out a 10 second gap on McCarty. Shawn Smith, Reagan Woodall and Alex Zambrana would round off the Top 5 in the Pro class. It really was a great race to watch!!

McCarty leading the Pro's at the first downhill
Not a complete disaster of a weekend for us, but a lot to improve on. I started in a hole and was fighting to get out the whole day. Never a good strategy. Alex came out fighting in his new class and with a little better luck can hit the Top 10 realistically. Won't need to simmer on it too long. FSC #4 is this weekend at Alafia!! Check out some pics from the weekend below. Chime in below and let us know how your race went!! Thanks for reading and come back next week for our next report!!