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!

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