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Markham FSC by Tom Pike

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #5 / Coconut Cup #1 Markham Park - Sunrise, FL 10-26-14

The 2014 Specialized Florida State Championship headed to South Florida for a packed weekend of racing at Markham Park in Sunrise, FL. Besides being the 5th round of the FSC series, this weekend also kicked off the first race of the South Florida Coconut Cup Series. Plus the always exciting Short Track race on Saturday.

It's always the best when you're racing at a home park. Obviously local trail knowledge is great for your confidence. It also can give you a psychological advantage. A "home game" also means a short car ride to the park and sleeping in your own bed.

As a South Florida rider I enjoy the combined format of the FSC series with the first three CC races. It gives me a chance to race with friends who may only be doing the Coconut Cup. It also adds a new challenge to the state racers as they have to go up against new faces.

Now it's no secret that Markham has a rep for munching on bodies and bikes. The pits are full of war stories about cuts, bruises, stitches, bones and busted bikes... and this weekend was no exception. What's intriguing to me is that Markham is a 90% technical park, not unlike Oleta, Alafia or Carter Road. Those parks also collect their share of bodies and bikes, but for some reason those parks don't seem to have the same mythology Markham has. Go figure. I'll just chalk it up to a home court advantage no matter how they lay out the course.

Speaking of which, for those of us that ride Markham all the time it was nice to have the course laid out in the direction that we always ride. Turtle Slide and Semper Fi, which are part of the AMTB(adaptive mountain bike) loop, where nice additions and new way to go around Crime Scene. The redesign of the end of Outback Extension matched low gear switchback climbing with a steep downhill feeding you into tall banked corners for a corkscrew exit that I know had some people doing the death grip on their handlebars.

As for the condition of the tails the Markham Park trail maintenance volunteers continue to do a fantastic job building and maintaining the trail system here. These guys and gals do a lot of fund-raising and invest hundreds of hours to support the trails and it shows. If you only come to Markham for the races you've noticed a lot of building and improvements.

Of special note is the AMTB(adaptive mountain bike) loop which this crew recently completed. It runs about 4 miles and was used for the kids course. They also provide the bike patrol for the races and weekends. You guys rock!

So now it's onto Haile's Trails. Rumor has it that there's two new miles of trail and that Dave Berger is spicing them up by invoking the spirits of the original Razorback trails. I hope the rumors are true.

Ride Hard! Ride Safe!
Peace, Pike!

Tom Pike is an Ellsworth Team Rider. Tom has won a Silver Medal at the USAC National Mountain Bike Championships and is a two time Florida State Mountain Bike Champion. In his “spare time” he works teaching Film Production at Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, Florida.

 

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* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.

*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey

 

mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing

The train kept on rolling at Lakeland FSC

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #7 - Loyce Harpe Park - Lakeland, FL 11-16-14

It was a busy cycling weekend at Lakeland (technically Mulberry) Florida as Saturday morning saw a cyclocross, Saturday afternoon an FSC short track and Sunday the FSC cross country race.  The trail system at this park has deep roots with Gone Riding as we held our first race at this park (then known as Carter Road Park) back in the early 90's, at the time it only had about 1 mile of single track and we literally had to create and build an additional 5 miles to have a race, it took about a month of hard work but in the end it happened and that was the beginning of the mountain bike trail system that is so popular today.  The Ridge Riders club (named after the mine overburden ridges that make the trails so much fun) began soon after that and expanded and developed that crude early trail system into a work of art and one of the most demanding yet fun trails on the circuit.

Many thanks to Ridge Riders club who had the trails in excellent shape and helped work the event and thanks to the round sponsor Bent's Cycling & Fitness one of the oldest if not the oldest bike shops in town and a long time mountain bike sponsor.

Saturday the FSC short track had a new layout that was longer and faster than years past and an impressive turnout helped to amp up the competition.  It was Level Strahan with a close win in the white wave ST and Bob McCarty performed his magic again and as he burst out to a win at the last moment to take the yellow wave top spot.

Sunday's 6.7 mile cross country race course was ran the normal direction but this year a section called the "first finger" along with a couple of other technical sections were added which spiced things up a bit.  The start and finish area were also kind of a new / old setup as it was set up in a more open area and away from most of the park traffic, it was an area that the FSC hasn't seen for over ten years and featured a ride through the old concrete blocks that reminded me of Mayan ruins for some reason.

Elite series jersey leader Bob McCarty had a hard fought battle with Dwyane Allgire and Mose Howard but in the end it was McCarty on top again.  Shelly Allen won on what is considered her home field as Kathy Russell kept her honest in second place.  In the team championship the points gap has now narrowed to 2 points with Super Cool bike shop still in the lead.

Doug Deweese claimed the $50  First Place Racing Fast Lap Fifty award this week.  KMC chains fast lap award went to Gary Chambers in the GM1 B class.  Next event is 11-23-14 at Alva.

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* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.

*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey

 

mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing

Scott Atkins takes a leap at Lakeland CX

2014 Lakeland Cyclocross - Loyce Harpe Park - Lakeland, FL 11-15-14

Beautiful day to race a bicycle as a crisp morning evolved into a sunny fall day in central Florida.  With nearly 80 entries this inagural event kicked off with a bang at 9am with the Masters hitting the 1.5 mile challenging course at a gallop.  The first quarter mile was a wide open dirt then it was onto the first dismount section (a natural ditch) then on to the wide and fast single track section.  The course finished up with a switchback through the "Mayan ruins" two more dismounts and the infamous sand "S" turn section.  Lap times were generally in the 5 minute range but the fastest of the day was set by double winner (cat 1/2/open & Single Speed) Ryan Woodall at time of 4:50 min.  Many thanks to all of the sponsors that kicked in over $3,000 in prizes and money and thanks as well to all of the competitors, congrats to all

 

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* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.

*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey

 

mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing

Haile's Trails FSC by Tom Pike

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #6 - Haile's Trails - Newberry, FL 11-2-14

Story by Tom Pike, photo by Michelle Pike.

So the weekend was finally here... the anticipation was just about over... the Specialized Florida State Championship series was going back to Haile's Trails in Newberry, FL. after two years being away. For anyone that's been around Florida mountain bike racing for any amount of time you know Haile's is the special treat in the bottom of the swag bag!

This year was going to be even more special. Firstly because of local "goings on" we weren't sure we would ever be able to come back and ride here. And secondly because there was 2 1/2 miles of new trail added "billed" to be reminiscent of the original Razorback trail.

Now for those of you that never had the chance to ride Razorback, just know that it is such a beloved trail system for it's northern type terrain, that both Alafia and Amelia Earhart bike parks have trails named after Razorback. It had steep climbs, plummeting drops, and demanding technical single track.

So anyway back to Haile's. The other allure of Haile's is that it's only open twice a year . Once for this race and once for a SERC race. That means no one ever gets to practice ahead of time, which can be a great equalizer in some classes. I know folks that come up and only do the pre-ride on Saturday then go home just so they get the chance to ride these trails. Many of you already know all this but I just say it to let you know how excited I was to be riding here again.

Saturday was pretty chilly. My wife Mickey and I bundled up and headed out to pre-ride about midday. We tried to pick a time when it was warm and we'd still get done before the team time trial.

The trail was running in a clockwise direction for this year's race which means we start out with some short tricky climbs and down hills near the motocross track. The first of three new drops was included in this section. While the other two drops were probably longer and steeper I felt the this was the trickiest because it had a sharp left-hander at the bottom which led to short incline.

From there we were led into the new section. Single track mixed with climbing and winding downhills. Included in this section was one long, very long by Florida standards, double wide climb. And that's where it happened... My weekend went one from glorious joy to pain.  

In the process of doing that climb I strained a muscle in my left quad. It felt like somebody had turned a blowtorch onto it. Even walking up the rest of the hill was painful. Well gosh diggity darn it!... Okay so maybe those weren't my exact words but those are the ones I can print. By the time I reached the top it become clear to me that I wasn't going to be doing any racing on Sunday, but I'll be damned if I wasn't at least going to finish this pre-ride.

And so that's how the rest of my pre-ride went, walking up the hills, having a great time riding down the down hills and riding it in the easy gears, sometimes one legged, on the flats.

The end of the new section had the 2nd added drop. It was the longest and definitely reminded me of Triple Dipper from Razorback. A drop that played with your head more than it did your bike. From there the trail headed back to the more familiar trails of Haile's. The third new drop went down into one of the pits which was fun.

Race day saw temperatures of 36° in the morning an hour before start time, another addition to the northern feeling. Mickey decided to represent the family and come out of retirement to do the race... which says a lot about the challenge of a course to get her back on the race bike.

Me, I spent the race taking photographs throughout the course. Which was a fun perspective to see some racing that you normally don't get to see and to support the racers.

This was a race that definitely had a lot of folks talking afterwards. This course tested your skills and helped you learn new ones. There were physical and mental challenges throughout. There was over 800 ft elevation gain per lap. Put all this together and you have a Florida race course that rides like the north.

I'll be ready for Haile's next year, or as the famous line in that movie goes "I'll be back".

Ride Hard! Ride Safe!
Peace, Pike!

Tom Pike is an Ellsworth Team Rider. Tom has won a Silver Medal at the USAC National Mountain Bike Championships and is a two time Florida State Mountain Bike Champion. In his “spare time” he works teaching Film Production at Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, Florida.

 

 More on the Blog

 

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* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.

*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey

 

mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing

Tim Zimmerman rolling the rocks at Haile's FSC

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #6 - Haile's Trails - Newberry, FL 11-2-14

Round six was all about change, change in the weather (about a 40 degree drop in two days) and change in the course styles (more on that coming up).

Thanks to Leroy's Bike Works of Lakeland for being the round sponsor and going above and beyond by providing hundreds of dollars of extra prizes to not only Sunday's cross country race but to the Team Time Trial on Saturday, I believe everyone was presently surprised.

Saturday as mentioned was the Team Time Trial and as a tight points race has been shaping up this bonus race was ever more important with Team Super Cool Bike shop going into the weekend with a one point lead they are now a full five points ahead of the second place team and former points leaders Brick City Bicycles.  This battle is destined to go down to the wire at Santos which is Brick City's home trail.

Sunday's cross country race course had folks talking, it was the first time we had been back to this popular and challenging trail in almost two years and now there was an additional 2.25 miles of new terrain in the loop.  The trail system is blessed to have so much elevation change due to years of limestone mining, it also has a hard base with numerous rock features and it is not a common site for many from the flat lands of Florida.  There were many comparing it to the Razorback and old Hardrock trails of over a decade ago, it had hundreds of feet of climbing per 6.5 mile lap and at least three exhilerating decents as the riders dropped into the lowest levels of the quarry pits and then climbed back out to the top of the mines overburden piles.  It simply didn't look or feel like you were in Florida especially with the chilly weather.  The views and the ride were amazing and we are proud to announce we will be returning to property on March 22, 2015 for the opening round of the SERC series.

Former state champ Ryan Woodall showed up this weekend and batttled with Bob McCarty (the defending state champ) and narrowly took the win, while Shelly Allen got back on track with close win over Beata Wronska in the Women's top class.

Shawn Smith walked away with the $50  First Place Racing Fast Lap Fifty award with a time of 25.89 on the longer yellow wave loop.  KMC chains fast lap award went to Justin Barton in the Base 30-39  class.  Next event is 11-15/16-14 at Lakeland, with Cyclocross and Short Track bonus on Saturday and round 7 of the FSC on Sunday.

 More on the Blog

 

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* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.

*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey

 

mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing

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