Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup 2013 #5 Virginia Key

Pumping music, palm trees, beaches, cruise ships aren't exactly your typical environment to find a mountain bike race at. But when Gone Riding came down to Miami for Round 5 of the Coconut Cup in beautiful Key Biscayne, that's exactly what they and racers were treated to! Eric G here with our race report for Coconut Cup #5 in Virginia Key.

After a miserable result in CC #4 (couldn't muster up a race report for that one...) Alex, Julio and myself were eager to make amends at Virginia Key. The trail is officially less than 2 years old but has a great maintenance crew in the Virginia Key Bicycle Club, that has spent countless hours in the last 3 years to turn what was all but abandoned City land, into a truly beautiful Mountain Bike destination in South Florida. From just over 4 miles on opening day, to just under 7 today (as of the latest trail opening in a few weeks) the park has grown with plenty to offer from Family friendly fire roads with ocean views, to technically challenging expert sections. Classic Rock fans will also appreciate the trail signs with great names such as Highway to Hell and War Pigs to name a few.

The XC3-30+ class was busy as usual with 35 racers at the line. Julio and I got decent starts and were both on the top half entering the first trail. I spent much of the first lap in a conveyor belt of positions. Passing one guy, getting passed by another several times until about the half way point of the first lap then settled in with 3 other racers that I'd be fighting the rest of the race. Julio meanwhile would get boxed in behind some traffic and lose a few positions early then chase back, putting tons of effort on the flats to get around as many people as possible. He'd come around lap 1 in 16th.

Turns out I'd be in the battle for 10th place, with one rider just in front of me and two behind me. We were all always within bike lengths of each other. With about 3 trails left to go I'd lost sight of 10th, but managed to drop one of the chasers, so we were two. We made it down to the final War Pigs trail and I tried to give it a go. Slow and technical, if i could force a mistake by him, I'd likely keep the position to the end. He'd been sitting near my wheel for a few trails so I thought he might be holding back a bit. Probably smart on his end. My small attack didn't work and we came out of the steep final climb onto the long finishing stretch. I locked out the bike and gave it all I had! Wasn't enough this time though. I just got out dragged to the finish. Even had sat up and watched him go once he passed. Didn't have any punch left in my legs, but was still a fun ending. Came through in 12th which is the best on the season. Julio would keep fighting through the traffic and pick off two riders on the final lap. He had some pressure late in the final lap, but punched it again after the Yellow Brick Road trail to get away and come through just behind me in 14th on the day.

Not done yet as Alex would be in the XC3 40+ class with 26 racers in his class. His start wouldn't be as clean and would actually tangle with a few riders early including one of our buddy's, Ivan de Rosa in the first lap. They both claimed it was the most polite accident in a race, but it was a race nonetheless. They'd both keep the pressure on one another enough to actually gain 4 positions each in the final lap. Again War Pigs would make a difference as Alex was able to get a small gap and hold it off down the final straight to cross the line in 12th just a few seconds ahead of Ivan. After missing much of the middle of the Coconut Cup series, it was his best result on the year.

That's it for us for the Coconut Cup series and what we'll call our 2012-2013 season. It was our biggest season to date and we had a blast. We'll shift our focus to off season training and some upcoming Endurance races over the Summer to prepare for next year. Thanks to all of our sponsors especially Bike Tech for their great support all year long. Our rides from Scott and Specialized were amazing and really helped us along. Thanks for following along with our race reports and we hope you enjoy them with the pics. Keep checking back as we're hoping to add some product reviews to our regular stories. See you on the trails!!