Monday, October 4, 2021

Race Reports are BACK!! FSC #4 2021 - Markham Park Elite Men's Race Report

And we're back! It's been too long since I've had a race report for a Gone Riding event and glad to bring one along with pics!! So here we go!

FSC #4 which doubles up as Coconut Cup kickoff race was supposed to be my return to midpack Cat2 glory! The weather leading up to the weekend was spotty with showers closing down the trails for a few days, but by Saturday, the course was marked and FAST. Over the years Markham has developed into a perfect balance of speed and flow sections, while maintaining enough technical challenges to develop riders' riding skills when the trail shows it's teeth. The combination has lead to a race loop with some of the fastest average speeds, and still retaining enough challenging sections to make it relentless. You're either pinned on the flats, or trying not to lose it over the many fast ridges and ledges throughout the course. See a quick highlight video of our recon lap below.

As for my race, well it didn't happen. Lots of prep leading up to this race, and I went and got sick late in the week. Woke up Sunday pretty congested. I'm Covid free but listened to the body and sat this one out, but I got tons of pics and got to pay attention to the race so I'll report on the always exciting Elite class!

Too sick to smile

For the better part of the 13 years that we've been involved in the South Florida racing scene, two names have always raised eyebrows when they've lined up together, Bob McCarty & Ryan Woodall. While there's been and still are many long time fast Florida Elite racers, seeing those two line up means it's going to be as fast as it can get. While they may be over a decade apart and in age, their speed, skills and consistency rarely creates more than a few seconds difference lap after lap. On this day, 28 riders would line up for the Elite 19-49 field for 4 laps of Markham. 

The field was off and set a blistering pace led by Victor Alber, another long time Florida fast man, out front early in the singletrack through the flowing Redback section with the majority of the field in tow. The pace would start to split the field eventually with 9 riders coming clear with a gap at the end of lap 1.

Victor Alber leading early

The group of 9 would remain together when we'd see them again coming through the paver climb in the Gun Range section. 2020 FSC Champion Antonio Guzman would drive the charge through the course and bring the group back around through the 2nd lap. The pace was nearly identical to the first, but not enough to break up the lead group further. 

Antonio Guzman takes a turn up front

Three laps in and while the lead group would exchange places, McCarty and Woodall would bide their time. On lap 3, Bob would use his home course knowledge and strike first and strike hard. He managed to jump into the singletrack, and it's little passing room, first and put some riders in between him and Ryan and pin it like only he can at his home course. Coming out of the Outback section and around the far side lake he'd gained a small gap on the field with Troy Davis sprinting to stay connected. Victor Alber would be chasing 5 seconds in arrears, with Woodall and one more racer in tow another 5 seconds back. The rest of the fields would continue the charge, but any cohesion they had as a group was blown apart by the pace. Exiting the Bermuda Triangle Section, McCarty held a 5 second advantage on Davis and stretched it out to 20 over the duo of Alber and Woodall. Exiting the trail I'd see Woodall stand up and set a hard chase onto the short fireroad section approaching the finish line. Could he bring back the gap on the last lap? 

McCarty Strikes!

Woodall Chases

While chasing the riders and trying to take photos and mental notes of action, but what I didn't know was that Bob would set the fastest lap on the day on lap 3, over 30 seconds faster than each of the first two laps!! He'd again set the second fastest lap of the race on lap 4 and was simply untouchable on this day. Even with a solo roll in and celebratory post up at the line he'd still put another 29 seconds on Woodall, who'd shed his age classmates for the class victory. I didn't get to talk to Bob after the race, but ever the sportsman, I spoke with Ryan who was complimentary towards Bob and mentioned that even after this many years near the top, he's still learning and this would be a lesson in field positioning for him. Once Bob got away he knew it would be tough to catch. 

McCarty takes first win of the year at home!

McCarty the master now leads the Elite series with Davis, Alber, and Julio Gomez in striking distance. Woodall has one missed event in the series, but remains a contender with two wins in his three appearances. If he is truly going for the series he'll have some makeup events for the opportunity to get him back in contention. 

My next outing will be at Alva so will try to bring another detailed race report for the exciting series! I've got a few hundred Yellow wave pics to sort through but will upload to our Facebook page later this week! Stay tuned!!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Getting ready to roll!

It's finally time to race again! While things slowly opened later last year, Florida racing is now in full swing with safe protocols and fun Mountain Bike events. Having been away from racing for nearly two years brought back the passion that made the hard work fun. Slow, solo, aimless riding just to escape from the mundane daily pandemic lockdown life, has turned into training days, remembering how to apply technical handling skills and ultimately, modest fitness and a race calendar!  

Weather is providing great training days

Summer was spent building enough form to dive in to a few Endurance races to see if my reinvigorated spirit was really ready to dive into a race calendar with mixed, but positive results. Started in early August with one of the biggest South Florida events of  the year, the Rumble in the Jungle. It's one of Markham Park's largest Trail Fund Raising events usually met  with hundreds of racers. Not sure of the turnout this year, but it looked as big as ever. My prep for this wasn't particularly focused, but just wanted to get out and see some old friends and have fun in the scrum again. This one didn't last very long as the rust was apparent and after clipping a tree and briefly dislocating a finger (popping them back in is quite an experience), I decided to call it a day before I hurt myself more. DNF wasn't a great start. 

Dusting off the Race legs at the Rumble!

I wouldn't mope around too much as the Rumble was for fun and dusting off the legs. Next up would be a few weeks later at a Down2Earth 30 Miles of Amelia Event. Usually a smaller turnout, this would still be a good test of fitness and form. I focused on riding skills in the leadup and managed to ride as consistent as I have in ages. Was actually riding 2nd in my class until the last hour. I faded a bit after the 2 hour mark and ended 3rd on the day in class. Would have liked to have held on to 2nd, but was happy to take home some hardware before kicking into XC race mode. 

Started putting it together for 3rd at Amelia!

The rest of the year will shift to the Coconut Cup, the South Florida Premier XC series by Gone Riding. First up is Markham again in October, then will keep it rolling to Alva, Fl in November and back to Amelia Earhart Park in December. Will keep things going in early 2022 as the schedule is finalized, but looking forward to getting back to regular racing! Check back soon for updates!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Getting the Band Back Together!

What a weird time to be alive!! Fortunately "regular human" life appears to be getting back on track. People are getting vaccinated, learning how to stay healthy and beginning to get back out and enjoying life. We're in the same boat and after over a year of solitude on the bike the adventuring has resumed. 

In non bike adventures, this spring took my family and I to a camping/adventure trip to Georgia and North Carolina, hitting up some of the places I'd only quickly seen on the bike. Made stops in Dahlonega, Ga, then Bryson City & Asheville in NC, and slowed down to explore the areas and had an amazing time.  

Views of Lake Fontana

Creek Side Camp

Adventure #Jeeplife

As for the bikes, well that hasn't really stopped. Just been spent mostly in solitude without much to tell. Fortunately this weekend was a different story. Serrano finally threw a leg back over the bike and we set off for a weekend in Ocala to hit up the fabulous Santos trail system. 

Bike Wagon back in action!

We loaded up the Subaru with Biking and Camping gear and setoff to ride the most expanse trail system in the state. We setup camp Saturday and quickly hit the main Santos trailhead after lunch. The trails there are fast and fun with some natural technical sections mixed in to keep your attention on the trails. Wrapped up the day with a celebratory beverage and burgers, with a big day planned for Sunday

These bikes still shred!

Post ride beverage

Post ride burgers!

Sunday would be a long day in the saddle as we planned to tackle most of the OMBA Epic loop. From our camp I mapped out 30 miles of flowy single track. For those familiar with the area, we started at Shangri-La with the the Vortex as our targeted turnaround point. Man I forgot what a great place this is to ride. With mostly park based trails in SFL, the Ocala trail system is vast and isolated. You can go hours without seeing another rider. Unfortunately this was not the case, but trail traffic was mild in the two way trail system. The weather was slightly warm by end of the day, but considering the typical Florida weather at this time, it really couldn't have been much better with a cool start and clear skies. 30 miles later and we were back. In time to pack up camp, clean up and enjoy the most perfectly cold beverage before hitting the road. 

Ripping some singletrack

South Florida travels! Spotted our friend Tanya at the trails too!

Mid-ride pit stop at Vortex

Nearly had to jump this guy

Finished up last couple of miles on the easy path home

It's been a long time but was great to just get out and ride with no agenda. No training, no racing, just riding for joy, which is really how this all started. The racing will resume at some point this year, but till then when you see us on the trails, we'll be having fun!