Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Race Report & Pics: FSC #5 2013 Sunrise

Halfway through the season, the FSC headed down south to Sunrise for race #5 at Markham park. The race also doubles up as the start of the Coconut Cup series, which focuses primarily on the South Florida trails. Racers were treated with a nice change in the typically hot South Florida weather, with the temperatures starting off in the 70s for the first time in the area this year..  The trail maintenance crew at Markham has been doing a great job of changing the race loop around each race, all but eliminating an home course advantage. Other than recognizing certain sections, the layout had racers turned around enough where everyone would be learning it as they arrived.

Participating this weekend for us would be Eric Norris, and myself. Eric N was unfortunately on a borrowed bike this weekend and would spend his Saturday prepping it and getting used to the ride. I opted to mix it up in the Saturday Short Track (STXC) event to see how I'd be feeling. After a miserable Ocala event, I made a change in my fitting and had noticed and improvement over recent weeks. This would be a great test. For those unfamiliar with STXC, it's an absolute all out effort for about 20 minutes. Racers all start together, mixed classes and race a simplified loop with little singletrack and mostly wide open doubletrack. Speeds are high and competition is fierce and this wasn't any different. After a decent start and a few higher than usual surges, I finished safely, satisfied with my improving form.

Sunday came around and the XC2 30+ class was near 30 racers. The whistle blew and I started well. For the first time all year I wasn't getting blown away on the fast flat start. When we hit the singletrack I was in the low teens and feeling confident. I actually made a few passes and was trying to ride smart. About 20 minutes into lap 1 though, I had a catastrophic failure of my drivetrain. My cassette (back gears) simply fell apart at one of the carriers, leaving me with my most common range of gears unusable. My chain also kinked up, so I couldn't even crawl back to the trailhead for repairs. My race was done and the walk of shame back to the Start line was a long one.

It was up to Eric N. to save our weekend. His XC3 30+ class was HUGE, with 37 racers at the line. His third row start meant he'd have to be patient at the start. At the start once the class spread
out over the flat open start, he made his move and gained ground, entering the singletrack also in the low teens. His luck though would be as bad as mine. For the second race in a row, even on a different bike, he had saddle issues. The clamp would be damaged and not keep the saddle in place. Try as he may with a multitool, any weight or impact would cause a exreme tilt of the saddle. After a few attempts to get moving and back in the race, he called it a day midway through lap one. Talk about tough times for the team recently.

Ok, enough of our bad luck stories, let's get to the fastest guys in the State with the Pro/Expert 19-29 class. The field was smaller this time out, but the competition was still tight. Series Points leader Bob McCarty would take the early lead at lap 1, but would be pressured by Shawn Smith who stayed on his heels. Trailing less than 30 seconds behind them was Alex Zambrana, yes THE Alex Zambrana, who popularized the #zambranaing hashtag made famous on Facebook. The Flying Brazilian duo of Filipo Barbieri and Bala Almeida would work together to stay within a minute of third. While McCarty would slightly stretch his lead by lap three over Smith, he was still less than a minute away when Lady Luck would disappoint him. After fighting though and finishing on the podium despite not having a SADDLE for the last 2 laps in race #4, Smith would again have back luck and get a flat near the end of the 3rd lap. While trying to fix the situation quickly, his valve stem broke from his wheel. At that moment, he was passed by Zambrana and with no tube available, he walked it back to the pits and called it a day. Now was the opportunity for one of the remaining racers to reach the podium and Almeida would be the one to benefit. With Barbieri suffering through cramps mid way through the race, Almeida would pull away to finish a solo 3rd on the day and Barbieri bravely fighting through the cramps and finishing 4th. The two were also rewarded with their results propelling them to 2nd and 3rd overall in the series Midway through the year. Smith's DNF drops him to 4th. While there is still a drop and a makeup race available in the remaining races, the overall series standings been shaken up and should make the remaining events exciting to the very end!

So that's our report for the home race. Didn't get the "home cookin'" we'd hoped for but won't dwell on it too long. FSC#6 at San Felasco takes place the week after so we'll be back in action looking to improve on our luck! Thanks as always to our title sponsor Bike Tech! Went back to pictures this time so enjoy the action from the Short track and XC events. Grab them if you're in there and don't' forget to check back with us next week for more reports!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Race Report and Video: FSC #3 2013 Ocala

Hardrock Cycle Park. This is the place where legends come from. A place that I'd only heard "used" to be one of the hardest places in Florida to ride. Chiseled out of an old limestone quarry, groomed by motocrossers and Jeeps, and sadly, closed to Mountain Biking over a decade ago. However, Dave Berger and the great folks over at Gone Riding used their relationship with the land owners to give the FSC a chance to return to the former mecca of Florida MTB. So without further ado, Eric G here with our race report for FSC #3 Ocala!

Starting the TTT
I'll get right to it. This place is unlike any we'd ever been to. Downhills with speeds approaching 30mph. Climbs so steep that many racers (ourselves included) didn't have the proper gearing and needed to push UP them. And even the bizarre reddish singletrack sections, which upon closer inspection, was COVERED in red ants (think something out of Indiana Jones)! Finish it off with a full blown motocross loop and you had the most unique and challenging race course on the FSC Calendar

To give racers plenty of opportunity to ride the course, there was a Team Time Trial on Saturday afternoon. Alex and I teamed up with Victor, Simone and Mike from our sister team from Bike Tech and had some fun riding together. Despite Vic's cassette trying to swallow a bush and a wrong turn by me at the front, we had some fun out there and finished 11th on the day. (Catch some of it in the race vid below)

Eric G hurting on a climb
As for race day it was tough going for us. I had a DNF in XC2-30+ after taking a tumble and banging my knee. Got rolling quickly but the steep climbing was absolutely painful on my knee so I had to call it a day after a lap. Eric N had a great start, taking the holeshot in the XC3-30+ class. However midway through the lap, his saddle shifted on him costing him some time. Despite coming though in 11th after the first lap, the saddle issue got even worse, forcing him to stop on the course, costing him more positions. He ultimately crossed the line in 17th. Alex had a rough going in XC3-40+ from the start. Dangling in no mans land throughout the race, he had a mostly uneventful 18th place finish. We'll take the Top 20s, but course sure did a number on us.

Eric N takes the holeshot
The Pro race was exciting till the end. Bob McCarty put on a display and rocketed off right from the start. After lap one, he had a 30 second gap, but had a strong group in chase. Victor Alber, phenom Alex Meucci, and Shawn Smith were riding together trying to close the gap. Meucci would try to do the work on his own and take a flyer on lap two, gapping the Super Cool Bike Shop duo of Alber and Smith, but couldn't gain ground on McCarty, who would extend his lead. The effort would take it's toll though and Alber would benefit. Taking his own flyer on lap three, Alber would close the gap to Meucci and then pull away on lap four. While McCarty took the win, Alber would take 2nd and Meucci would take 3rd. Rounding out the podium was Smith and teammate Martin Cox.

Alex S approaching the finish
Despite the tough course and results it was a great weekend. We were able to get plenty of footage and put it all together to hopefully give a taste of what a race weekend is like for us in the FSC. Thanks as always to our our great sponsors at Bike Tech & Audioworks, as well as the additional support from Cytosport, Magura, Vredestein, ESI Grips, Rudy Project, & GoPro. No pictures this time but enjoy the video!