Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Race Report & Pics: FSC 2013 #8 Alva

Aaand we're back! In the middle of 5 race weekends in a row, the Race Reports have been tough to come by, but we're back on a roll and here's the report for FSC #8 in Alva!

After a small showing of just myself (Eric G) at FSC #7 in Lakeland, Alex and Eric N joined up in Alva for the penultimate round, of the FSC. The weekend also doubled up as round 2 of the Coconut Cup, boosting the total participants with an influx of South Florida racers. The race loop was one of the fastest we've seen all season, with full gas, paper flat, winding, hard pack sections, ultra tight canopy singletrack and off camber roller coasters waiting for the racers. Top it off with a distance of just about 10 miles and racers were going to be in for a long day. Eric N and Alex were back after missing the last event. Eric was sporting his new Scott Scale 700 RC which gave him newfound prowess in the technical sections. Alex meanwhile was wearing his best Movember facial hair, going for a "Lemmy" look. 

Eric would be up in XC3 30+ against 27 racers. After a solid start in the low teens, Eric's handlebars decided his new bike was behaving too well and decided to spin free at the clamp, nearly throwing Eric over the bars. He scrambled to get his torx bolts tightened then got back to chasing. Unfortunately working under such conditions doesn't usually result in accurate work and the bars would come loose on him two more times in his first lap!! Ultimately he got the bar tightened down enough but the damage was done. He dropped down to just about last in his class. He set back on a furious chase to test his legs and continue testing the new bike. At the end of the reduced 2nd lap, he'd put down a personal flyer and made up about 5 positions, finishing 21st on the day.  

Alex was up next in the competitive XC3 40+ class. After the dust settled at the start, Alex was sitting in a train of about 8 riders in the mid teens all within a minute of each other much of the first lap. He too would suffer some misfortune with a rogue shrub wrapping itself into his rear wheel, all but practically locking up his drive train. While he struggled for a few minutes to free it up he set back off in chase. The class is truly competitive and after just a few moments he was down to the mid 20s. He managed to recover a few places but ultimately lost too much time with the mechanical to recover, and finished 22nd on the day. 

Earlier in the morning I was up with the XC2 30+ class. 18 racers lined up and off we went. It's been a tough year so far between DNFs and generally lacking form to compete in the new class, but things have been coming around lately. Through the fast flat start I was hanging in the paceline for the first time all season. As gaps started forming I was feeling lively enough and made a few passes to chase the pulling group. By the time we hit the singletrack I was connected to the tail end and actually in front of about 4 racers. As the first lap continued I settled into my own pace but still had the advantage on some chasers. This was the first time all year I could think about race strategy and I was loving it. Nearing the end of the first lap though I clipped my bars and took an absolute flyer, landing solidly on my right side and knocking the wind out of me. As I struggled to get out of the way of the chasers, it took me a few minutes to recompose myself. By the time I got rolling back up to speed I'd lost 2 spots and a lot of time. As I set off in chase, I saw one rider from my class at what I thought was in reach. Again, after a tough season, I was motivated to just be able to chase someone. The race time and pace is still a challenge to me though and found myself losing pace on the 2nd lap. Nearing about 10 minutes to go I was cramping and just trying to hold off the gap I had on whoever was left in my class. I managed to fight through and finish 15th on the day. I was happy with the result just on the fact that I was able to compete again. 

On to the Pro report! After dominating 4 of the fist 6 events, finishing 2nd in the other two, Bob McCarty had a healthy series lead in the overall standings. But after a season low 4th place in Lakeland, he surely was looking to get back to his winning ways. Fellow Pro-XCT racer Drew Edsall would be in attendance as well (Florida is usually his offseason home) looking to follow up on his commanding win at Lakeland. Pro/Expert regulars such as Martin Cox and Alex Meucci were in attendance as well and surely would make it an interesting day. At the start the men were all business and set off at a blazing pace. Coming off his NUE campaign, Edsall has a monster base and set off on a blistering lap, distancing himself at one of this "Home Turf" trails by just over a minute on the first lap. McCarty would lead a trio including Cox and Meucci in chase. He'd set off on his own in chase of Edsall, dispatching of his partners and closing the gap down to just about 30 seconds with half a lap to go. Edsall though would finish strong, outpacing McCarty and the others to take the win by nearly a minute. McCarty would take 2nd alone and Cox would round out the podium comfortably in 3rd. 

It was a great event and the Mudcutters Club that maintain the Alva trail did a fabulous job setting up the race course. We want to thank Bike Tech as always for the amazing support all season long. Our last stop for 2013 is at home for Round 3 of the Coconut Cup. Enjoy the pictures below and check back next week for our last update of the year!

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