Friday, December 5, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup #2 Alva

With so many events in November I'm still catching up. Finally sitting down long enough to write about Round #2 of the Coconut Cup in Alva!

The Alva course always brings a challenge. It's the longest loop in the series at almost 10 miles. Has sections that are pancake flat, fast and flowy for miles, then sections that are just the tightest, rooty and undulating terrain we'll see all year. It's always a challenge to me to not pop by cranking so hard on the flats that I've got nothing left for the technical stuff. This year presented an additional challenge of incredibly slick conditions.

We arrived on an overcast Saturday to drying trails. high winds had clouds quickly passing most of the day. Whenever light rains came on, they weren't around for too long. On our preride section we were met with some loose corners, but nothing too concerning. 2nd recon lap only gave us more confidence and the drying trail regained much of it's grip and the speeds were very high. If the course stayed dry until morning, it was going to be amazing.

Race day rolled around and early reports were that it had clearly rained the night before. An pre-race lap confirmed that conditions had indeed deteriorated from what everyone had seen the day before. Packed dirt on fast turns had become as slick as riding on grease. The fine layer of "peanut butter" mud made it incredibly difficult to carry much speed on the fast turns and the root sections had become so slick there should have been bonus time awarded for keeping it upright. We were all in for a tough day.

Boyco and I lined up for our classes and off we went. It wasn't a great day for either one of us. Mike would have a rough start and end up towards the back, then chased his way up to mid pack, but by the end of the second lap he lost two places and would finish 9th on the day. I wouldn't fair much better. I had an incredibly slow start and played it safe over the starting humps. I took the B line when I saw a pileup at the first mound and gained a few spots. I held in with the train of riders in my class pretty well and just paced myself with others and tried to keep it upright. We held together (and upright) until the first technical section where I just couldn't keep the pace. I'm usually comfortable in these conditions, but something was off today with my skills and I was just SLOW. It became more of a mental race as miserable conditions and performance had all kinds of doubt going in my head. By the end of the 2nd lap the course had improved and at least I was having some fun again. I traded places with a rider at least 5 times through the race to keep it entertaining at least. He'd get me on the choppy stuff and I'd get him on the flats. I managed to clean the final technical section and pull away at the end of the lap for a miserable 14th place. Tough day in the saddle but at least we finished. We'll store this one under "Character Building" as a result.

Now to the always amazing Elite Class. All of the top riders were present this weekend as the event doubled up as a FSC event and had many valuable points available. Bob McCarty has been incredibly consistent year round and had a sizable points gap. 2nd through 4th were tightly contested by Dwayne Allgire, Shawn Smith (who were actually tied in points) and Allison Anjos just a few points back. Off went the group of 18 racers and the level of skill was simply impressive. Fast, flat courses tend to reduce the time gaps to other classes at times, but with the challenging conditions, it was apparent that these guys are just at another level. After an even start early on, it was Allgire who would be the aggressor and come through the with an early attack. McCarty, Smith, and Anjos wouldn't be too far behind and working together to chase the dangerous leader. Anjos would take a tumble giving McCarty a gap that Smith would work hard to close down. Their work paid off and they'd catch Allgire heading into the final lap. The 3rd lap was a shortened lap that cut out part of the technical sections so this would be a drag race tot he finish. Coming to the end it was Smith who would take Allgire at the line with an exiting sprint finish to take the win. McCarty would roll in 3rd, collecting valuable points to maintain his series lead. The win put Smith in 2nd place overall with 2 points events remaining.

Next up is our 2014 Finale with Coconut Cup #3 back home at Amelia Earhart park. Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures below!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Race Report & Pics - Coconut Cup #1 Markham

Back-to-Back-to Back events means we got backed up on getting our reports are. But here we go with our report for Gone Riding's Coconut Cup Kickoff event at Markham Park!

After rains covered the area leading up to the weekend, Saturday rolled around with nothing but blue skies and crisp temperatures. Prepared by the always creative Markham Park Trail Builders, the course was typical Markham, meaning fast and relentless. Classic sections were perfectly interconnected with newer sections to create a blazing loop. This wasn't a roadie course though with the Gun Range and OBX (Named by Carlos Galvis...) sections thrown in to challenge event he most technically adept rider.

Eric G before the misfortunes
The weekend had a bonus Short Track event on Saturday afternoon. Boyco and I (Eric G) decided to give it a go with mild success. I really just wanted to get in there and shake things up. Actually glad I did because I found a maladjusted derailleur was causing me chain drops during the race. Ruined my result, but at least it didn't happen on race day. Boyco meanwhile made the most of it and ended up in 3rd in class after the 20 minute torture fest. Good enough start for the weekend!

Race day rolled around and Eric Norris would join us for his first mountain bike race fresh of a new addition to the family not 2 weeks earlier! Off we went and after a positive mid pack start in the XC2 30+ class, I was working up in the low teens when a perfectly placed rock catapulted me and my bike off the trail! It had been quite awhile since I'd been thrown like this. No warning or anything, I was just along for the ride so to speak. After I dusted myself off and did an injury check. Fortunately both rider and steed were unscathed and off I went in pursuit. I'd lost a few places but not too many. Fast forward to the end of lap 2 and I'd picked off some riders and was closing in on 12th place when I flatted!! I reached back to grab a CO2 only to realize I'd left at the pits during my preparation! I was near enough to the end of the lap where I figured I'd make a run for the pits. I took off with bike in hand and was suddenly saved by a trail fairy who magically placed a Co2 trailside. I'd also left my spare tube so it was my only hope that Stan's Sealant would work. Alas it was a bit of an odd puncture and the sealant wouldn't stop the leak. I limped my way back to the end of the lap with a deflating tire and called it a day.

Boyco receiving some brotherly assistance
Boyco was up in the always too fast XC2 19-29 class. Typically a small but extremely competitive class there were 10 riders at the line. A lead pack of 5 quickly took control and set off to destroy each other. Boyco hung on for a bit then settled into his own pace. A bit of mechanical trouble for other racers had him in 5th at the end of the lap, just under a minute up on the next rider. He managed to keep the pace up the next two laps to keep pulling away and claiming the last spot on the podium. After a rough start to the XC season, it came around for the start of the Coconut Cup. Combined with the Bonus Short Track round, he sits in 3rd for the young series.

Norris making his comeback!
Norris was next up in the White Wave in XC3 30+. A wonderful new born at home gave him an adventurous month leading up to the race. While the training was solid, the race legs were a bit lacking so he settled for a conservative start. A huge 38 person field meant that there would be bottlenecks at the start and sure enough he was in it early on. Getting caught up would cost him much time and positions unfortunately. After a bit of a shuffle at the end of lap 1 he'd worked up to 23rd, within 30 seconds of a few riders. The lack of race legs would come around on lap 2 and while he wouldn't lose any positions, he wasn't able gain any places at the finish. Coming through unscathed after a race layoff is always positive so we'll take it.

Finally the always amazing Elite class! This event doubles up as a FSC round and would be the 2nd of the series to be USAC sactioned which brought the Elite riders from all around. Series leader Bob McCarty was looking to defend his lead on home turf. Bent Cycling brough their duo of Howard Mose and Dwayne Algire. Super Cool Bike Shop came loaded with Shaun Smith and Martin Cox.  Even National Pro Drew Edsall would make the trip down south to play in some of his former Florida stomping grounds. The 24 Experts were off down the long start at a blistering pace. Early in it was apparent that the locals had an edge with 5 of the first 9 riders being from the area. First lap rolled around and a train of 9 came through all within the one minute of each other. The
McCarty takes the win!
fireworks started on lap two with Edsall throwing down the fastest lap, and whittling the group down to six. Lap three would wind up being the difference maker with 3 locals turning the screws even more to get away from the field. Doug DeWeese (Fastest lap of the day) & McCarty would come through together, with Allison Anjos just behind on his own. While McCarty and DeWeese are both part of the ID Angel/McCarty team, the race was still on! DeWeese has certainly stepped it up this season, even putting down the fastest lap of the day, but McCarty has been at this game long enough and kept the pace high enough to squeeze out about 10 second gap on his teammate and take his second win of the season. Anjos meanwhile held off a hard charging Shawn Smith who had closed the gap down to mere seconds, to claim 3rd on the day. This Elite class format by Gone Riding has brought out the best in Florida and every race it seems to be different riders stepping up. Nonetheless, McCarty has been Mr. Consistent, having placed no lower than 2nd in any of the five races so far.

Next up was the return of the legendary Hailes Trails for myself so I'll have a write up done ASAP. Then off to Alva for Coconut Cup #2. so come back soon for more stories! Enjoy the pictures below and like our Facebook page if you haven't already! We like to thank all our sponsors, especially Bike Tech who continues to help us every step of the way!

Always a good time with the Bike Tech Racers!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Race Report & Pics: FSC #3 Alafia

Eric G here, back with our adventures at the FSC. While the series kicked off a few weeks ago, our endurance race schedule would keep us away until the third race of the season, which took place at Alafia River State Park, traditionally one of the most challenging of the series.

The weekends' weather looked like a washout early on, but we were met by great conditions on Saturday. The usually longer race loop was shortened a bit to a more traditional distance. Lap times were just under 30 minutes for the elite racers which put it back to our typical distance. The course is in one of the most serene locations that we visit. Definitely off the beaten path and isolated from the typical city surroundings, Alafia is full of lush, green life under the canopy with many bench cut trails that precariously place you along the river. One wrong move and you might take a dive. Refreshing as it may sound, the green algae that grows on top of the still parts of the river are knows to hide rather large gators. Definitely a situation to avoid. The old park is a former phosphate mine, so years of digging has created plenty of undulating terrain. While it doesn't have much for extended climbing, the relentless short, punchy climbs make quick work of the legs.

Saturday was spent saying hello to racing friends and getting dialed in to the course. Boyco and I tried not to overdo the pre-riding, but it was so hard with such an awesome course! I made the decision to test out a 32t up front for the first time and instantly wished I'd done this last year! I'm fleet afoot, but wouldn't consider myself svelte, so the extra climbing gears helped keep my legs fresh. Boyco meanwhile, also on a 32t courtesy of our Bike Tech teammate Mike Sauerwein, was bounding up with ease as he typically does around the climbs. It was tough keeping up with him, so I hoped it was just him being more race ready than me.

Race day was here and I'll get right to it, it was a tough outing for the both of us. Boyco shot off in the Sport 19-29 class just ahead of me. Two minutes later my 30-39 class would start. I took a conservative start as I wasn't sure how I'd be compared to the guys who'd already been racing. Not even five minutes in I saw Boyco at the side of the trail performing his best Bradley "Wiggo" impersonation in reaction to a torn rear tire that would take him out at the start. He would continue with a tube, but the damage to any chance of a decent result was done. I pressed on, but it was apparent early that my months of endurance pace training, wasn't going to cut it at the XC level on this weekend. I dropped off the lead group pace and held my own, keeping the effort steady and hoping to catch others that might have gone out too fast. This didn't quite work out. I ultimately came through in 11th, at least not last, courtesy of a DNF by another rider. I was mildly prepared for this result, but it's never easy. The training has already changed to meet the demands of the XC season and hope to come out better at the next race.

26 Elite racers at the line!
Now for the new for 2014 Elite class!! At Gone Riding events, gone are the days of the smallish expert groups taking off one by one. The classes have now been merged to the Elite class, pitting together all the 19-49 expert racers together at the start line. Scoring is still done by USAC classes for age class standings, but also for a complete, Elite level category with it's own podium and prizes. The result was 26 of the fastest riders in the State and flying off the start. After the parade lap, a huge train of 9 came through on the lead pace. Lap after lap the numbers would drop. Heading into the final lap, perennial strongman Bob McCarty, had separated from the pack along with Bent's Cycling teammates Dwayne Allgire and Mose Howard. While he was wearing the series leader jersey, McCarty was winless in the young season and after having been pipped by a well timed attack at race #2 by Allgire, he wasn't going to remain in the position against a two man team and kept the pace high. During the 4th lap Howard would fall off the pace, leaving McCarty and Allgire to finish the duel. The race nearly made it down to the wire, but coming to the line, McCarty had built a small gap on Allgire and took the win with Allgire coming through for 2nd and Howard in 3rd. 
McCarty takes the Elite win!
(Photo by Mickey Rivera)
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the pics below and come back for our next report. The FSC comes down to South Florida and also doubles up as the start of the Coconut Cup. The action starts with a short track event on Saturday before the races on Sunday. See you on the trails!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Fools Gold 50

Eric G here, still catching up with our Summer race reports. The last few months have been focused on preparing for the Fools Gold 50, a 50 mile endurance race in the mountains of North Georgia. Mike's prep work consisted of carrying his Oramm training on, but shifting the focus to the upcoming XC season. Throw in a tough 200k Permanent in South Florida and he was set. I was keeping it local and was going to use some local endurance races to test my training. I had a terrible Rumble in the Jungle with a DNF after smashing a front wheel just 3 laps in, but made up for it with a 3rd place showing in the 6 Hours of Oleta. Endurance races always take a bit of luck, and for once it was on my side. With a few racers ahead of me dropping out with a myriad of issues, I just rode steady enough and fought off cramps during the much of the second half of the race to finish on the podium. Luck or not, preparation had gone well and we were ready for Georgia

The Eclipse Racing Transport
This would be my first attempt at a race of this distance outside of Florida. Those that know me fully understand Endurance events are NOT my strength. Boyco has more experience in races like these and this would actually be his 3rd Fools Gold attempt. Our friend David Bohl from our Bike Tech sister team would join us for the adventure. He too has some decent endurance race experience and was excited to tackle his 7th endurance race of the year. While these guys were looking to set PRs, I was just looking to survive the nearly 7000 feet of climbing in the event!
Some fun at Dauset Trails

We started our planned 10 hour drive early Thursday. Our transport would be a MONSTER Chevy Van. We removed one row from the 12 seat beast which left us plenty of room for our 3 bikes, our bags and a probably even a Mini Cooper. With the ride covered, the proper thing to do would be to rest, do a little recon on Friday and race hard on Saturday. So instead, we proceeded to ride every day, having tons of fun leading up to the race. On the drive up, we stopped at Dauset Trails in Jackson, Ga. A fun trail system with nothing too technical, that we found at least, with nice flowy, fast trails. Nothing too steep in either direction. Turned out to be a great way to loosen up the legs. We didn't overcook it and just had a great time. After the ride we continued our drive to the hotel.

The scenic Montaluce Vineyard & Estates
Next day was spent transferring to another hotel (Accidentally chose a SMOKING room), checking out the local life in the City Center of Dahlonega, Ga. then off the the race venue at the beautiful Montaluce Vineyard and Estates. We checked in with the Organizers to get the inside info on the nice trails to check out, and had an encounter with the legend himself, Tinker Juarez! Off we drove to the Jake Mountain trails which would be part of the race loop. Again we were treated to fast trails with great flow. A little more technical and steep than Dauset, we rode carefully to not burn out the day before the race. We even got familiar with a couple of stream crossings that would be in the race. Nearly 2 hours there and we had enough. Chatted up with some other racers at the trailhead when we got back then called it a day. The evening was spent on final bike checks and supplies preparation. As the rookie, I decided I would take the "No Bonk" approach to the race and would fully stock up two drop bags as well as carry tons of supplies and Cytomax in my Camelbak. If I didn't finish the race, it certainly wasn't going to be for lack of nutrition. Boyco had a more relaxed approach. He had no intentions of using drop bags and his hydration plan involved killing all the moldy stuff in the old small camelbak that I let him borrow. He'd later tell me it was a bit surreal sitting around the hotel room watching TV and doing nothing while Bohl and I got all our gear together for the race. Bohl took an in between approach with a couple of drop bags, but had them precisely prepared for his needs.

Bishop & the 100 Milers
Finally race morning arrived. We need to be at the venue prior to the 6:20am cut-off for the drop bags. We just made it then got ready to roll. We watched the 100 milers go off which contained a nice group of South Florida friends along with the NUE Series leaders such as Jeremiah Bishop and Tinker Juarez.

One of the stream crossings
Our turn was up and I picked a nice safe mid pack position. Didn't want to get sucked up with the adrenaline of a race start. Boyco was with me, but he went off quickly to move up in the pack. The neutral lead out took us to the local streets for a nice cruise on the rolling roads of the area. About 20 minutes in the pavement became gravel and started pointing UP. Based on the route I'd seen online, I knew this was the start of the tough stuff. The result was 40 minutes before I hit the top of at climb. I found my granny gear and just set my pace. Boyco's initial cruising plan worked out as his hard tempo pace had him passing tons of riders who went out too hard midway up the climb.

About 90 minutes in and I was finally to the highest point of the event. Not gonna lie, I'd never climbed that much before and it almost went south at the end. The final climb had a steep kicker had me doubting myself when I saw some people pushing their bikes! As I got closer I realized they were single speeders and I still had one more gear left. 24/36 to the rescue! Crisis averted!! The reward for this was blasting downhill on open gavel roads for about 20 minutes. Speeds quickly changed from about 7mph uphill to over 30mph down! Took me a few minutes to get comfortable with the speeds but when I was alone I had a blast just letting the brakes go and pinning it down! Finally, about 2 hours in we hit some single track. I was definitely more comfortable here. We ride fast in the trails at home, so it was nice to get in my element and just feel like I was out for a long ride. As Mike said, the weather was fantastic, the dirt was dry, and the woods were never-ending and spectacular and allowed aggressive riding. I Mixed it up with some other racers. Let them by or made my passes, not trying to rush anyone and just stay clean and out of the way.

View from up high
Made it to the second rest stop pretty fresh, topped off my supplies and kept going. I was riding in a small group and everything was going great and we just hit a stream crossing and started a climb. This one was a little rougher than the others, but I just kept pushing along. about 10 or so minutes in we get to the top to come across other racers telling us we're going the wrong way!! Ugh!! We back tracked to the stream and found the error of our way. So about 3 miles in the wrong direction wasn't too bad, what was bad was that we were now at the base of the second longest climb of the day! Really it wasn't that bad, but it just messes with your head. Eventually everyone got into their rhythm and we trekked on. The route looped back to the previous rest stop for a second time at mile 39. Still mostly fresh, Off I set with what should be about 11 miles to go!

Even saw this on race day
Made it to the Jake Mountain trails that we had become familiar with and I decided to get out of my "survival" pace and kick it up a little bit. I was having a blast! Carving where I could, jumping for no reason, really enjoying the ride. Blasted through a cold stream crossing that we had hit the day before and was smiling ear to ear! A few miles later though, I carve a berm and feel my rear tire low on air. 45 miles in and NOW I'm getting a flat?? Wasted about 10 minutes between trying to make the Stans seal up the tire with no luck and finally deciding to put a tube in. Got that out of the way, but now I was scared of pinch flatting with no more spare tubes. I dropped the pace and went back to survival mode.

Except for one brief rendezvous with a thorn bush, Boyco kept it upright (he almost went off the side of the mountain several times the day before...) mostly and rode strongly until the end. The last 10 miles were tough and he slowed down quite a bit but recovered and rode the last few road miles hard. The final tenth of a mile through tall, flattened grass hurt like hell, but came across at 4:44, good enough for 31st. I hit the last rest stop which was mile 47 and I was thrilled!! Thrilled that is until I ride by without stopping and hear the dude telling me "About SEVEN more miles to go!" 7 miles? 47 plus 7 is NOT 50 miles! In addition I had the 3 extra miles on my Garmin, so I'm thinking "How far did I go in the wrong direction!?!?!?" I'd later find out it was a 55 mile loop. Guess I need to pay better attention during the riders meeting next time! Now my head was a little shot and I'd gotten sloppy with the eating so my energy was down. I settled myself when a rider told me we were almost back to the road which would be about 4 miles to go. Back on the pavement I survived to the end with a little motivation from some racers that were near me. Just before the finish there was a final stream crossing where Boyco and Bohl we cheering (heckling) me to the finish. I trudged on and finished together with another rider in just over 6 hours!

All smiles after a great event!
End of the day we had some recovery beers and great tacos provided by the organizers. Chatted up with some friends that were in the race and told stories of our day. My travel partners both finished the event in under 5 hours! Great for them! I figure I left about 30 minutes on the trail between the detour and the flat and just generally not rushing through the rest stops. Clearly a better beer drinker than climber, I wasn't going to blast up those long climbs on this trip even if I wanted to. Ultimately I was happy with my experience.

Hope you enjoyed our story. Check out some pics below. It's a great event put on by Mountain Goat Adventures and we'll definitely be back again next year! Wanted to thank Bike Tech as always for keeping us on the best gear and fully loaded with supplies. Also want to thank Freddy Viera owner of F2 Performance Lab who helped me prepare for this event. His endurance experience and coaching helped put me in the right direction to do well in what is not a strong event for me. Now it's on to the Gone Riding FSC, Florida's premier XC Series. We'll be hitting the trails at Alafia this weekend for FSC #3. Come back soon for report and pics of the cross country season. See you on the trails!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Race Report: Oramm 2014

The Boyco recently gave his story from his ORAMM adventure this year. Enjoy!!

On a whim, I did ORAMM back in 2010. Back then, I was not a mountain bike rider by any stretch of the imagination, and rode a full rigid 26” bike for my first foray into the trails of the Pisgah Forest. I did not know anything about marathon mountain bike and thought 63 miles sounded easy. Famous last words, as some might say. All I will say about that particular experience is that I survived and swore I would never come back. Also, I thought my wrists were broken. Three consecutive editions of ORAMM later, I am back for a stab at finishing as close to 6.5 hours as possible, having spent most of the spring and early summer with this race always on my mind. 

In the past, I have found myself climbing through the crowds on the first major climb up old highway 70. So this year I started much closer to the front, just to give myself a better position for when the proper climbing started. I rolled with Victor Nelson through the opening hills and was feeling pretty good. Once we hit the real climb, the largish front group immediately exploded. We rode a nice tempo, trying to stay out of the wind. Once we got to the top of old 70, I soft pedaled, recovering for the steep technical climb up Kistuma Peak/Young’s Ridge. I am not a strong rider on very steep pitches, but managed to stay in touch with our group. 
Bohl, Boyco, & Vic still smiling...
One thing that had not changed from previous years was my timid descending on the fast and steep downhill sections. However, Kitsuma is not straight downhill and the descent is punctuated with steep short climbs, something you don’t really appreciate until the race takes you through Kitsuma at the end. I would keep rolling back onto the group at these short climbs. Despite being slow down the hills, my decision to ride near the front was paying off in an unexpected way: I wasn’t holding up big groups of better downhill riders! This did a lot to help my nerves as what I dread most about the downhills is getting yelled at by guys who are only good at descending. Victor, interestingly enough, was gone. Go figure, the guy who has never ridden in the mountains can fly down the mountain just as fast as he climbs it. I did manage to crash once (I always crash at least once on the first trip up and over Kitsuma, it’s become my thing) but still, things were going great so far

Once we got down, I rode with a strong group past checkpoint 1 and onto Star Gap. I made it over the rail road tracks and up to the first big hike-a-bike. Here, I saw Victor again, just ahead of me. While Kitsuma is 100% rideable, there are several sections of Star Gap that are not (for me, anyways). Fortunately, this descent is much easier than Kitsuma. 
Onto Jarrett Creek Road, which is way hillier than I remember, ugh. Also forgotten were the long, fast, loose-gravel descents. Fortunately, I was able to ride behind some skilled riders and thus avoided flying off the side of the mountain towards certain death.
And so, I made it to Rest stop 3, the base of Mount Mitchell and the start of Curtis Creek Road, the dreaded nine mile climb. Riding strongly here is critical to doing well overall and this is one tough climb. The climb gets steeper and steeper, relentlessly. There are endless switchbacks and countless views of endless road. Just when you think it can’t keep rising any further, you round the corner, greeted by another half mile of steep road.
I eased into the zone and was climbing really well for the first part of the climb. I made it to the water stop representing mile 30 in just under three hours.  That means (on paper) I was on course for about six hours! This was incredible, a time I never thought attainable. I let it soak in for a bit, really enjoying the idea. But… It was at about this time that the mountain decided to cut me down to size. Shortly after the euphoria of the water stop, the first cramp hit me out of nowhere. I am not a rider who ever cramps and so I didn’t immediately understand what the pain was. The pain did not mind this though and got a lot sharper. I went from climbing well enough to pedaling just hard enough to keep moving. And just as quickly as I was thinking I was going to do something great, I found myself joining the riding dead, slowly climbing the mountain.
It felt like an eternity but I finally made it to the top, to rest stop 4, where I immediately took 3 endurolyte pills and drank a lot of water (and coke… and Doritos… and some other junk). I hung around for a bit, wondering what to do. I could easily turn around and ride down the mountain and back to town. A decent time was long gone and I could just get the hell out of here. But, I am a bike racer, which means I don’t know when to quit. With a brave face, I started my ascent up the Blue Ridge Parkway towards Heart Break. For a bit I felt better and started putting down some power into the pedals, which turned out to be a very brief ray of light, as it didn’t take long for the cramps to come back with a vengeance.  
I eventually made it to the steep hike-a-bike that kicks off Heart Break Ridge, probably a quarter mile in length. It took me about a half hour to drag my sorry corpse to the top, followed by more dark reflections on the day. Eventually Dave Bohl came by, which was actually a relief; it’s amazing how uplifting seeing a familiar face can be when you’re down in the dumps.
I finally stood up (after at least 20 minutes of wallowing about) and began to make my way down the Heartbreak/licklog knob descent. The first half mile of this descent is horrifically rocky, rooty, and mercilessly complicated, which means it took awhile to walk. Not fun, avoiding people crashing left and right and trying to not step the wrong way, aggravating the cramps. The rest of the descent is not too bad, just a few very rooty sections and a very cool portion that coincides with a stream (downhill on wet rocks, the fun never ends!).  Eventually I made it down to the Star Gap trail, which is way more fun to ride down than grind up. The very very last section (which is a hike a bike on the way up) is stupid hard to ride and there are a lot of really good pictures of riders crashing there. I walked.
After all of this, I made it to rest stop 5. I sat down in a daze. I had decided during the last descent that I had toughed it out enough. I walked around, drank some more coke and… gradually realized that the cramps had gone away… I was a bit pissed as now I knew that I would have to finish the race, my legitimate excuse gone. I waffled for a bit, finally made peace with reality, and got back on my bike. 
The endurolyte pills had finally gone to work and I rode up Mill Creek Road at a fast pace. I finally reached Kitsuma, grinded up the steep pitches again, walking half of it this time (as usual), got really annoyed at the endless short climbs that punctuate the “descent” Kitsuma (as usual), and finally making it the last few miles of road. I did my best aero-tuck and tried to remember what the cramps had felt like. I couldn’t and finally made it to town, where I crossed the line in 7.5 hours.
In short, not the race I wanted. In retrospect, I am happy that I did DNF and I still did an ok time, especially considering how much time I spent floundering about or sitting down. I had hoped to finish in a time I could be proud of and thus never have to return. Considering I went down in flames at the most crucial part of the race, I now have to go back in 2015, which I have mixed feelings about. I have to sincerely thank Bike Tech for helping me out, in years past I think I was definitely held back by the bikes I was riding. Not so this year! The bike is amazing, definitely the best I have ever ridden. I also have to thank Vredestein, the Black Panther tires definitely helped make the descents more manageable! Unbelievable grip. Now we are about to start cross country season and I look forward to continuing to show the colors all over Florida!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Update!

How's everyone's Summer been?? Been a few months since our last post here but we've definitely been busy. The Summer time around here is usually an eclectic blend of touring rides, training, endurance races, XC training races, avoiding the unbearable heat, and inevitable South Florida Summer rains. With no real winter to speak of, there's always time to ride and we must take advantage down here!

 A little bit of business first though. We've very glad to be spending another year with Bike Tech as our Title Sponsor. They really have helped us grow and spend so much time doing what we love. We can't thank them enough. We're proud to fly their logo and colors and have taken our team kits back to our roots with  red to more closely associate with the shop colors. EsiGrips, Cytomax, Magura, Vredestein, Rudy Project, and Audioworks Miami also continue as supporters and new additions WhereToCrank, Florida's premier Trail Conditions site as well as F2 Performance Lab, which brings us a Wobble Naught Certified fitter as well as coach and nutritionist as a great resource, have joined as well and we thank them!

Breaking in the New Kits

With the season officially "over" after the Coconut Cup, on the calendar has been has been a mish mash of events. From Grinders like like TheBoyco's entry to the Hurracan 300, a 300+ mile adventure ride through backcountry roads of Central Florida or "The Erics", (myself and Norris) entering the Great Gator Gravel Grinder (I managed 4th place in that one!). That one as particularly grueling with temperatures in the low 90s and stories of a cyclist devouring sized python as an obstacle. We also got together as a full squad to hit up the Hammerhead 50, a marathon distance event in the sweet singletrack of the Santos trail system in Ocala Florida. More of a survival event for us. Norris took team bragging rights as our top finisher. I was happy just to finish, as marathons aren't my fortay. My legs cracked and cramped up at about the 3 hour mark, then found new life with 15 minutes to go and somehow powered me to the end as fast as I'd started. Boyco would have dominated us all, except his ride turned into a mechanical nightmare with several issues causing him to stop for repairs. I passed him at one point looking as if he was trying to seal a flat with lasers shooting from his eyes. Serrano made his glorious return to riding after being sidelined for a few months with a wrist injury.

Mixed in has been regular XC events like the local La Roota Series which has seen Boyco on the podium a few times and fighting for the series overall. The WhereToCrank Amelia Series brought a "UCI Style" XC series to South Florida, which kept loops to about 15-20 minutes in length and kicked up the total laps. This was a big his as it made for a spectator/family friendly series, with plenty of "Viewing areas", local Bike shop promotions, awards, DJ's, Product Demos, and even an amazing video production for the events. Check out the action in AirdrenalineMedia's production!

But the fun doesn't stop here! While it's only 2 months until the start of the FSC Season, Florida's premier series, There's Oramm and Fools Gold 50 still in our schedule! Stay tuned for more details on the leadup to these events and come back for some reports. The posts will ramp up again now with the racing season just around the corner. Check out our Instagram feed (Or follow #eclipseracing) to the right for a look into our adventures or follow us on Facebook at where we post a bit more often. See you on the trails!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Race Report: 12 Hours of Santos

Final report for operation catchup! Our newest rider chimes in with his report for the 12 Hours of Santos. Ladies and Gentleman, presenting
, The Boyco's Report....

A Packed Pit Area
The 12 Hours of Santos is Florida's premier endurance event. There are always big crowds, a lot of racers, excellent, technical trails, and the weather is generally nice (if not absolutely frigid). Eric Norris and I wanted to try out a Co-Ed team this year and were fortunate enough to get Josselyn Gutierrez of South Florida and Zee Cakmis of Jacksonville. Both are very fast ladies in the State Series and we knew we had a chance to do well and, more importantly, have a good time.

I've found that It's always going to be a long, stressful week at work whenever you have a big race on the weekend. The more time you need to prepare for the race, the more tasks you'll find yourself needing to accomplish at work. This 12 hours of Santos was no different and after an incredibly stressful week, I managed to leave work early (at 12:45 instead of noon as hoped for) and finally leave the house by 2:30 (instead of straight onto the turnpike from work). My sister and I split driving up the van, which really means I paid gas and tolls, she did all the driving. It was expensive, but was (probably) worth the hour of sleep I managed to get.

Sleeping Arrangements
We finally reached the Vortex Pit around 7, found Eric Norris and the excellent camping spot he snagged for us and proceeded to put up the tent and meet up with the feminine half of our team for dinner. Eric ordered a pasta dish that sounded like an amazing thing to eat, but an awful idea for a pre-race dinner (classic Norris). After the week I'd had, I figured I was entitled to eat something that, despite dubious nutritional value, was going to be healing for the soul.

Yes, it was amazing.

We went to Wal-Mart afterwards to get several missing items and which was actually a lot of fun and involved a lot pointless meandering and cracking jokes. We got back to the Vortex, sat around with a fire and had a beer with the Tall Club (you might know them as the perpetually drunk and speedo'd single speeder crushing it at the FSC series) and shared a few laughs.

We spent a night freezing in the tent which culminated in a very early morning rain shower to prove the tent I borrowed is not very water proof. We woke up, made a whole pack of bacon and a few scrambled eggs before the propane tank ran out of fuel. Hard times.

We got ready for the race and I rode the first few mile of technical singletrack. I immediately got that "this is going to be really ugly" burn in my legs which made me laugh a bit because we weren't even racing yet.

Bikes lined up for hte LeMans Start
The start is a LeMans run up a hill. I lined up at the very front (not sure why) since I am considered the fastest runner of our team. At some point everyone shuffled up about 20 feet immediately followed by Dave Berger of GoneRiding telling everyone to go back 30 feet. Once we settled down, I was (naturally) at the very back of the group.

Dave blew a whistle and we were running. So many people clustered into a tight space plus my position at the very back rendered any running ability useless. I managed to sprint through a few gaps here and there, got to the bikes and stood around uselessly when I realized I wasn't sure where my bike was. Damn, so many bikes on the ground! I finally found my bike, started running with it and attempted to jump on. This part is blurry but I remember actually getting on the bike (second attempt), hearing Joss yelling at me to go while jumping and screaming, and I slammed my knee into the shifter. I got into the trails, and immediately had to slow down due to the heavy traffic. I was slightly annoyed but ended up being happy as this allowed me to ease into the race as opposed to going straight into the red.

Eric Norris
After awhile, it started to spread out and we were finally racing properly. To make a long story short, we raced for the next 12 hours - duh. We were initially top 5, eventually moved out to 8th (or just 7th?) before slowly coming back to 5th. We sat around, eating, enjoying the sun's heat and each other's company, eventually starting up a grill and eating some hot food. My other sister in Gainesville came by and brought a lot of very welcome goodies: Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle, frozen burgers, and some fancy beers.

Mike Boyco
Towards the end, we did some mental calculations and tried to figure out who would race the last lap. Eventually it was decided I would do the last lap. As I stood at the transition area trying not to shiver too much from the cold and thinking about going back to the fire, Norris rolled up and told me he had just passed two co-Ed teams! We knew we'd been in 5th, we might have just made the podium! I took off like a rocket and hoped no one would catch me. You can imagine my disappointment when a member of the Dirt Devo Junior's co-Ed team passed me shortly thereafter like a much faster rocket passing a much slower rocket that is realizing just how slow it is. *Sigh* I guess we might still have 4th. I finished my lap, met my team at the start/finish, chugged the most delicious and refreshing beer ever and proceeded to change out of my sweaty clothes. Later on I realized that the Dirt Devo rider was actually lapping us (damn). Those kids are truly talented and their lap times prove it. Also, I felt better as I hadn't actually lost us the podium; we were never in contention to begin with. We held on for 5th, solidly one lap ahead of 6th, one lap behind 4th, out of 19 co-Ed teams. So, still something to smile about!

We stayed up pretty late, eating, drinking, and trying to stay warm. We laughed a lot and had a great time. The 12 hours of Santos is always a great time and continues to be one of the best can’t-miss races in Florida.

Happy Trails,
The Boyco

Friday, February 28, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup #6 2014 - Virginia Key

The race report catch-up game continues! Back again for the SECOND time this week (some kind of record) with our race report for Round #6 of the Coconut Cup at Virginia Key. Here we go!

For the second year, the Coconut Cup returned to Virginia Key for quite possibly the most scenic course location in the series, maybe even the state. Dropped on an island just outside of the City of Miami, Virginia Key has been through many phases in it's history. From a abandoned Military site, a "Colored Only" beach from the '40s to '60s, Closed down in the 80s, then officially reopened to the public in 2008 as an ecological preserve. Under the hard work of the Virginia Key Bicycle Club, the trails first opened in 2011 at approximately 4 miles, and have grown closer to 7 miles, this beautiful location has become a host to multiple Mountain Bike, running and adventure races year round. With some of the views unlike any other in the region, it's no surprise there's been such a quick growth of the trails.

Battled this guy the whole race
(Photo by Mickey Rivera)
Between schedule conflicts and one nagging injury, I would be the only one racing on the day despite battling a stomach bug earlier in the week. After blasting off at the start of the Markham race, and probably not recovered from the stomach thing ( I lost like 4lbs, not good) I decided to go back to a conservative approach and save some energy at the start to hopefully have it left at the end. 12 of us were off at the start and a missed clip in to the pedal sent me right to the back of the group. Perfect I thought, no sense in sprinting to pass half the pack now since I'll be shot after that. I caught on to the tail end of the group and entered the trail last. The pace was solid and we were still connected to the train of riders but my HR wasn't through the roof for once, but my legs were feeling heavy due to the lack of riding leading up to the race. The first trail opens up to a bit of a "dual slalom" type section. My long time racing buddy/rival Pablo Valdevieso was up ahead of me and feeling not so hot so I decided to get around him. Another rider that I think was in my class seemed to have dropped out quick with a mechanical. Great I thought, 2 positions just like that. The next rider wasn't too far ahead and I'd catch up quickly through the trails. On the flats though this guy liked to put down some power, which I just didn't have, so I let him go and focused on catching him in the trails. We ended up playing this game for the first two laps. He'd hammer the flats, and I'd chase down in the trails. I'd pass him, he passed me. It was actually quite fun. Lap 3 came up and we were together. I decided I'd finally need to make a hard effort on a flat and keep him away. I was using a Camelbak for the first time in an XC race so I didn't have to slow in the feed area for a bottle. He did. That's when I made a hard effort and opened up a decent gap. For the rest of the lap I had my head on a swivel, constantly looking back, nervous that I'd get caught. Probably should have just focused on keeping my pace. but ultimately I stopped seeing him in the trails close by. Great I though! I even backed off on my pace in the final two trails, when suddenly, my good friend PABLO was just 3 turns behind me again! We were in the last trail so I managed to keep my lead but I was sure reminded that you can't let off the gas until the very end. End result was 9th on the day and my best finish on the season.

McCarty putting down the winning effort
Enough about me! Pro/Expert field was up and just as in the past events this would boil down to a two man battle. Bob McCarty and Allison Anjos were at their own level right from the start. To get an idea of how fast these guys are, their pace was nearly 17MPH for the day! Lap after lap, just like the previous race at Markham, McCarty and Anjos battled wheel to wheel for the entire race. Last time Allison held off Bob with a finishing kick to the finish. This time McCarty would make sure it wouldn't come down to that. With a powerful surge near the end of the final lap, Bob would put down his 2nd fastest lap of the day and lightly crack Anjos escaping by nearly 45 seconds on the final lap to take the win. Anjos would cruise in comfortably in 2nd. Alex was taking photos and caught a picture at the end and said the usually effortless looking McCarty really had the look of someone putting down a massive effort to get away.

That's it for today. Our season technically ends here however the racing continues as we now start our 2014-2015 schedule with some Endurance races. First one was actually already done as of this writing with the 12 Hours of Santos. Enjoy the pics and come back next week for our Santos report!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup 2014 #5 - Markham

Where has the time gone??? Feels like it was just New Years Eve and now the Coconut Cup has ended and I'm 3 race reports behind! So here we go with Coconut Cup 2014 # 5 at Markham!!

After some dreary weather home races, the day was perfect for a race. The Markham Park Trail Builders had laid out another unique route as they've been recently doing, which kept racers on their toes, just different enough to ruin the muscle memory, but still making it a great Markham course. Boyco, Eric N and myself would be participating in this one with Alex still dealing with a wrist issue.

Eric G grabs the holeshot
Having been mired at the tail end of the Sport class all season, it's been tough. I can say after figuring out my back issues, the form was slightly improving and I was at least fighting it out for some position instead of dangling solo for most of the race. I was feeling particularly spy this weekend and decided it was time for me to take a flyer. Instead of racing smart, I was going to see what my body really had in it. Lined up with my 14 closest race buddies, I waited for that starting whistle. The next minute was somewhat of a blur, but after clipping in quickly and giving a few cranks I was off the line and pulling hard. Unwise? Probably. Fun?? Absolutely! Said it before and will say it again. Scott Spark + Twinlock locked out = FAST. I was ripping down the start stretch with a gap that I couldn't believe. I peered back to the whole group about 3 lengths away. I just kept at it till realizing that realistically, I was going to have to get out of the way pretty soon. Fun as I was having, I didn't want slow these guys up once we hit the trail. I managed to let two series leaders by me just as we entered the trail. I kept a harder than usual pace going for some time, but still let riders pass me as I needed. Everyone gave me kudos for the great start, but I was happy to let them by without holding them up. I'll admit, it hurt. I probably shot my race right there, but it was fun to go for it a little bit after this tough season. I was pretty cooked after just my first lap and settled in to a steady pace. At the end of the day I wound up 11th. Best result on the season, but admittedly had lady luck on my side with a few mechanicals knocking out two riders in my class. But hey, that's racin' and I'll take it!
The Boyco grabs 4th for the podium

Boyco was up in the way too fast Sport 19-29 class. Thankfully he rode a smarter race and after a brief stint with the race leaders he settled in to his own pace. The usually technically savvy Boyco however had a couple of tumbles and lost some time to the 2nd level of riders. Despite the troubles his pace was good enough to land him in 4th place on the day and on the podium. The new guy made us proud and brought home a medal at his second race since joining us.
Eric Norris was up next in XC3 30+. For once it was a manageable size field at 24 riders however he got shuffled at the start and wound up in the low teens heading into the trail. Since his change to 650B wheels, I will say his riding seems generally more comfortable. As we chased him around looking for pics it definitley looked that way as he was slowly picking off riders throughout lap 1, coming through in 14th. By now the field had spread, but he continued to press on and reeled in 2 more riders on his second lap. Coming out of the final trail he was just seconds away from another rider in his class. The long flat to the finish would give him the opportunity to lay chase, but the chasee had the same in mind. Eric would just miss out on catching him before the finish section, but still ended up in 12th place for the day.

Tom Mutch would race well for 3rd
The Pro/Expert Field was a small group but provided some exciting battles. From lap on Bob McCarty and Allison Anjos would separate themselves from the field as the guys to beat on this day. Not too far behind though was a small group of chasers in Tom Mutch, Bret Whitman, and Bala Almeida, all of which have been on the podium this season. Any slip by Bob or Allison and they'd have some company. Lap two came around and McCarty and Anjos had no intention of slowing down. Their chasers meanwhile began to fight attrition, with Mutch and Almeida separating themselves from Whitman. Lap after lap though McCarty and Anjos were locked on each others wheels. Pulling away from the field but not being able to shake the other away. Lap three though would make a difference for Mutch where he would hold a pace that Almeida just couldn't match, coming though on lap 3 with nearly a minute lead for third. The leaders would bring it down to the wire with Anjos entering the finishing tape section first and holding off McCarty to take the win. Mutch would continue his excellent pace and finish 3rd on the day.

Trying out something new so check out the pics below, from our Facebook Page

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Race Report & Pics: Coconut Cup 2014 #4 - Amelia Earhart Park

It's been a few weeks but HAPPY NEW YEAR! Since our last post we've all been through the Holiday season. Some of us maybe ate a little more than we should, and some were more disciplined. However you went about it, this weekend you'd find out what everyone else did as it was Round 4 of the Coconut Cup Series, back at Amelia Earhart Park! Eric G here with our race report for the first XC race of 2014!

It was good getting the band back together this weekend. Alex would be on pit/photo duty this weekend as he's been dealing with a wrist issue for a few weeks now after a training crash. Eric Norris and I would be up for action, and we're happy to announce we've added a new member to the team in Mike Boyco. He'll be racing in the tough XC2 19-29 class for us moving forward! The Amelia course was fast as always and while recent races had not been met with the best South Florida weather, this weekend couldn't have been any better! A mild cold front came through and had racers with clear skies and temperatures in the 50s! A slight chill while you're standing around, but PERFECT for racing.

With more of us to write about now, I'll focus on our entertaining racer of the day. Eric Norris lined up for his XC3 30+ class which was HUGE as always with 30 racers. After a season marred with mechanical issues, he was hoping 2014 would be a change. Off he went with a clean start and entered the trail in the Top 10 and settled in with a group of about 4 riders. Midway though lap 1, 3 leaders had pulled away, but Eric stuck with the chasers, hovering in the 5-8 spots. Coming through one of Amelia's many high speed, high traction berms he avoided disaster when almost rolling his back tire, however burped some air and was now fighting for traction while trying to keep up with his group. He made it to the pits and Alex sprung to action getting Eric a pump to get him back in action. He set off in chase but had lost a few more spots and was now in 11th at the start of lap 2. He set off in chase but once again burped the tire early into the lap. He wouldn't stop this time though and continue with the chase, but sitting in no man's land. With no one in sight after his pit stop, but a big enough gap to the next racer he settled in to a solid pace and held his position, just missing his first top 10, crossing the line in 11th. Despite the bad fortune, it wasn't catastrophic and gave him his best result on the season.

As for the rest of us, were were pretty uneventful. I'm getting more comfortable in the XC2 class. Pace was solid at the start. I dodged a nasty wreck at the first hill, settled in with 4 guys, got dropped by the end of lap 2, cramped on lap 3 and lost one spot in the final 2 minutes. Finished 13th. Overall pace is improving, but the legs quit on me so I spent the last 20 minutes in damage control.

Mike lined up for a small but fast XC2 19-29 field which took off at a blistering pace. For reference, the Top 3 in the class were the fastest Sport riders on the day. He would settle in to his own pace and have an uneventful day, finishing 6th.

The Top Experts lined up this beautiful morning for another exciting day. Along with the usual participants like Bob McCarty and Allison Anjos, Michael Danish, who was coming off his victory in the Amelia 69, would join the filed. At the first lap it McCarty and Danish were the top of the class, gapping the field. Anjos kept it close and had a small gap to a strong chase group of Bret Whitman, Bala Almeida and Alex Zambrana. Lap 2 rolled around and McCarty and Danish had extended their advantage, while Whitman and Zambrana would make a move and separate themselves and close down the gap to Anjos. For the 3rd lap McCarty would turn up the pressure, putting down his fastest lap of the day. Danish responded with his own hot lap, however a few mistakes allowed a small gap to build. Meanwhile the chasing trio would lose one, leaving Whitman and Anjos to battle it out till the end. The two would ride together for the remaining laps, with Whitman coming out on top for 3rd place, his best finish in the Expert class. McCarty would slightly extend his advantage over Danish and come though for the victory with Danish taking second.

It was a great day to watch some exciting racing. We'll be back in action this weekend at Markham Park for the 5th round of the Coconut Cup. Thanks for reading along. Enjoy the pictures below and come back next week for another race report!