Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Race Report, Pics & Video: FSC #1 2013 Tallahassee

September is here and it seems like just yesterday the Coconut Season was wrapping up. This weekend hundreds of racers in new uniforms, new bikes and full of new confidence from working hard over the Summer, converged at Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee for the start of another FSC Season. Eric G here with our race report of the kickoff event of the 2013/14 Season! Making the trip for us would be Eric N, Alex, and myself. Eric N. (XC3-30+) and I (XC2-30+) would be changing classes this season so we were both jumping into the unknown. Alex returned to XC3-40+ with a bit of form after a solid Summer of work.

Eric G riding "The Wall"
(Photo Courtesy of Mickey Rivera)
The course would be a little different from recent years with an added flat loop to stretch out the legs at the start. Gone was the Kudzilla downhill section unfortunately. Nevertheless the course was challenging with plenty of elevation changes mixed in with fast single-track. The racing would start right away, with an ITT scheduled for Saturday afternoon, giving racers the opportunity to burn some extra energy before the big race. None of us were completely familiar with the course so we treated the ITT as a hard effort learning loop of the shortened course. The ITT winner on the day would be last year's FSC Champion, Bob McCarty.

Eric N on the move
Race day was here and the weather was a little warm, but great for a race. I lined up in my new class pretty calm. Admittedly my Summer training was a bit derailed by a back injury so I knew this was going to be more of a learning race. 3 laps at race pace was still a mystery to me. If I could stay somewhat consistent on my lap times I'd be happy. I'll cut to the chase. Had a rough start, got pinched at the whistle and almost shoved into a tree putting me last into the trails. Perfect actually! I could just try to keep my own pace. I stayed comfortably with a group of four on the first lap. Got a little disconnected on lap two and kept my pace. Lap three though...ohhh lap three hurt. It really took all I could to finish and my pace showed it. My saving grace was not finishing last. First Sport race in the books. Can only get better from here hopefully!

Alex S kicking it to the finish
Eric and Alex had an adventurous start in their wave. Seems a disgruntled local wasn't too happy with a race at his trails and took the liberty of rerouting some of the course markings. Racers in the first few classes would wind up turning the the wrong direction a few times before the issue was figured out. Eric and Alex were both affected and lost some of the momentum from their decent starts. After the mayhem settled down, Eric would battle back to gain two spots on his last lap, ending 13th on the day. Alex would settle in to a personal battle for much of the race. Admittedly tired from the early course problems, it took all he could to hold off his chaser in a sprint to the finish, ending 19th on the day.

Now what everyone really wants to hear about, the Pro/Expert race! Fresh off their Pro XCT campaign, Bob McCarty and Ryan Woodall were both present and looking to continue their battles from last season. McCarty was the Series Champion, but Woodall was the only man to beat him in Head to Head match ups. Additional Florida strongmen included Shawn Smith, Martin Cox who can always put up a fight with the best. Newcomer to the class, young phenom Alex Meucci would also make his debut as an expert in the series. In total 13 of Florida's fastest would take the line for the top class.

Woodall leads at the start
(Photo courtesy of John Koch)
The racers were off and Woodall immediately put the pressure on, taking the holeshot with McCarty on his wheel, and by the end of the first lap Woodall had a small advantage over McCarty. A chase group of Cox, Smith and Meucci formed and that's how it remained for the first two laps. Misfortune struck Meucci and he would DNF after lap two (Unconfirmed mechanical as the cause). The consistency at this level is truly amazing. After gaining the early advantage, Woodall couldn't get away any further as McCarty kept the pressure on. Woodall though would fight hard and keep the same margin from lap one all the way to the end to take the victory
by about 10 seconds, with McCarty rolling in 2nd. Teammates Cox and Smith would keep the chase going but ultimately battle it out for 3rd, with Smith getting away on the final lap. Earl Bradley (Sorry, don't know much about his race) would round out the podium for 5th.

First FSC race is in the books. Not many pics this time but we got a video together with bigger production plans for the next race. Follow along with us the rest of the season for additional coverage!! Enjoy the pics and video!