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!