Thursday, December 5, 2013

Race Report & Pics: CC 2013 #3 - Amelia Earhart

Eric G here with our race report for the 3rd round of the Coconut Cup Series. The race took place at Amelia Earhart Park in Miami, one of the fastest trails in the series. The Amelia Trail Crew led by the LaRue Family works hard to keep the trail system groomed and in pristine conditions year round. For their efforts the park has become one of the more popular trails in South Florida, with berms, doubles and flow that give the park almost the feeling of being in a giant BMX course. Traction and speeds are high due to perfect mixture of carpet and dirt, yet kept balanced with some distinct climbing sections. Throw in some creative obstacles built of storage containers and even a Trailer from a Semi-Truck, and the park truly stands alone among the rest.

The weather is typically nice, dry and cool this time of the year, but on this Thanksgiving weekend, the weather felt like coming south for the Winter, and brought us rains leading up to and into race day. The result was a muddy, slippery course that would completely change what everyone's grown accustomed to riding at Amelia. We're not talking deep mud pits, but there were plenty of puddles and slippery "peanut butter" type mud to keep things slick, and racers on edge. In attendance from our team was Eric N and myself, with Alex sitting this one out due to illness (at least he'd be our Pit/Camera Man!)

I'd start things off in the XC2-30+ class with 20 riders at the line, the biggest class I've had all season. My form had been slightly coming around after a terrible start and I was hoping of putting a complete race in at home. At the start I got clipped in and rolling quickly and had my best start of the series, then proceeded to get all but thrown off the starting climb over a bridge. I managed to stay on my feet but was at the very back of the pack, something I'd grown too familiar with. I was feeling good though and pressed away in chase. By the end of lap 1, despite another crash, I'd made up 4 positions and had two more in my sights. I was happy with this and prepared to pick up the pace and gain more positions when I burped a front tire and had to stop to air it up. I got it aired up quickly but lost two positions. I set off in chase when the rains began. The course became even more slippery but I continued to chase by the end of lap 2 I'd regained my lost places and set off in chase of anyone else. That would be all the spots I'd gain though. While I closed down on another rider, I was still over a minute behind and couldn't make up the ground. I wound up in 16th with the most entertaining race I've had in this difficult season. I had more in the legs though so despite the luck, I'm optimistic about the rest of the season.

Eric N would follow up in the XC3-30+ class later in the day. Typical for his class, he was up against 28 other riders. The earlier rains made the start line a muddy mess. When the whistle blew, Eric had a promising start, but the muck from the start line clogged up his cleats so he couldn't get rolling as fast as he'd hoped. Approaching the first climb, he was met with a bottleneck and forced off the bike to push up and then resume the chase. When the dust, rather, muck settled, he was sitting in the high teens and giving chase. As the first lap wore on he picked off riders as he could and came around in 11th with three other riders. At the start of the 2nd lap he made a move and gained two more positions leading into the singletrack. He was now in 9th, with two more riders within reach. After a season marred with mechanicals, he was having the his best race of the year. Once again though he learned that things can go from good to bad quickly. Entering a muddy techincal section, he carried some speed into a paver that was hidden under the muck which punctured his tire. Between the grime and the surprise underneath, the tire damage was bad enough where his sealant wouldn't fix the leak and he was forced to retire. It's been a tough season for Eric, but his form is looking good and hopefully he can leave the bad luck behind in 2013 as we start again next year.

Zambrana putting on a show
On to the Pro/Expert race! As the Coconut Cup is smaller in attendance, Gone Riding has changed things up for the Coconut Cup, combining the Pro/19-29 & 30-30 Expert classes to create a "Superclass" and kick up the competition. The dream match-up of the best in the younger Expert fields was going to happen today! Seasoned Pro/Experts such as Bob McCarty, Alex Zambrana and Fillipo Barbieri would face the likes of series regulars Bret Whitman, Tom Mutch and Samuel Mejia for the first time head to head! At the start, Zambrana would go for his typical leg ripping start and go for the holeshot, but would be challenged and ultimately beat to the inside line by Howard Mose, one of the racers new to the mix! While the competition was tight, McCarty stood out from the class, putting down the fastest lap of the day, and building a nearly 1 minute lead on the field at the first lap. Allison Anjos would also get away from the field and come though 2nd with Mose, Bala Almeida and Mejia giving chase. The 2nd and 3rd lap rains seemed to shake things up and Mose was able to pull away from his partners heading into the last lap. The last lap provided quite the interesting result though with Tom Mutch, who was in 9th after the first lap, clawing back and put down his 2nd fastest lap and gained 5 places as the race closed to finish in 4th on the final podium spot on the day. While McCarty, Anjos and Mose claimed the Top 3 finishing mostly alone, Tom seemed to hold his own during the adverse conditions and charged it at the end once the rains stopped. Tactical racing at it's finest!

Well that wraps up our 2013 races! It's been an up and down year but fun nonetheless. Our Season wraps up in early 2014 with 5 events including the Amelia 69 and remaining Coconut Cup rounds. We thank everyone for following along with us and hoped you enjoyed the reports. We'd like to thank all our sponsors as always such as Cytomax, GoPro, Magura, Vredestein, ESI Grips, Rudy Project, Audioworks and of course our biggest thanks to Bike Tech, their support allows us to do what we love year round. Thanks again for following along with us and enjoy some of the pictures from the race weekend. Eric G out!

Been a great 2013 hanging with the Bike Tech crew!