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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

Keith Legg pulls a holeshot at Ocala final

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #9 - Santos Trails - Ocala, FL 12-14-14

Another picture perfect weekend for the final FSC race in Ocala at the famous Santos Trails.  The series started in the heat of Tallahassee and ended in the cool (some would say cold) of Ocala.  When the sun came up the thermometer read a chilling 29 degrees but by the time the sun warmed things up it was comfortable 63 and great for racing.  The 7.7 mile course was on the long side and full of technical challenges with sections like John Brown, Rattle Snake and Sink hole included in the loop, always a popular trail but for some reason this day proved to be hard on tires as many riders suffered flats throughout.

Many thanks to Ocala Mountain Bike Association club who as always have the trails in great shape and continue to build and maintain the largest trail system in the state.  The round sponsor was Santos Trailhead Bike shop and they pumped out over $2,000 in prizes and also hosted the Jeff Lenosky stunt / freestyle show at there shop on Saturday drawing thier biggest crowds yet.

In the Elite series leaders jersey race we saw a new face take the win as Allison Anjos won a narrow one over Tim Zimmerman.  Shelly Allen won the women's expert class and also took home another FSC title.  In the team championships battle the two top teams Super Cool Bike shop and the Brick City Bombers came in tied but it would be Brick City's day and championship as they not only performed strongly on their home course but Super Cool had no less than three mechanical failures during the race.

Tim Zimmerman claimed the $50  First Place Racing Fast Lap Fifty award in the 40-49 expert class.

At the FSC banquet which was held at the Ocala Hilton later that night a packed house of over 200 racers and supporters dined and celebrated the acomplishments of the racers and were presented with thousands of dollars of prizes and cash.  Special awards were given to the following...

MIR (Most Improved Rider): Doug Deweese

ESPO (Sportsmanship award named after the late Jeff Esposito): Emily House

MIJ (Most Improved Junior): Nicholas Tabares

MIF (Most Improved Female): Madison Mcdaniel

BSC (Best Supporting Cast): Elizabeth Rodrigez

ROY male (Rider of the Year): Robert McCarty

ROY female (Rider of the Year): Shelly Allen

EC (Elite Champion #1 plate holder): Robert McCarty

Congratulations 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

Coconut Cup Amelia by Tom Pike

2014-2015 Coconut Cup South Florida series #3 - Amelia Earhart Park - Hialiah, FL 11-30-14

Story by Tom Pike.

One of the advantages of living in South Florida is that we can have a yummy Thanksgiving Day feast then three days later have a mountain bike race with temperatures in the upper 70s while the rest of the country is trying to stay warm huddled up around the TV watching holiday specials.

And so goes the intro to the Coconut Cup South Florida Championship series race number three held at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, Florida. As I mentioned before the weather was gorgeous and the trail conditions were just perfect. Amelia can have some sandy parts but the morning moisture kept trail conditions grippy and fast.

The brothers LaRue and their crew of very dedicated volunteers always have the trails well groomed. That includes the landscaping around the trails. Gone are the days of Amelia with thickets of long cane grass , branches hanging into the trail and the fear of ants biting you.

Just riding leisurely around these trails you can see the passion this group has for their trail system by the landscaping that they put in along with the trails. There is a conscious effort to get rid of invasive species of plants and let natural South Florida vegetation flourish. And this didn't happen overnight. This has been part of the long-range plan over the past several years and Stephen LaRue says there's more coming in the future.

The trails at Amelia seem to be organic. Besides having a fast flow to them, the volunteers are constantly adding, rerouting and generally increasing the fun factor of this park. For those who don't ride here frequently there were a couple new additions.

The entry to "Coffee Break" (the trail that enters near the pump track) now has a serpentine beginning with three banked corners and a mini table top before joining the old trail. I must admit I miss the one fast sweeping bank from before, but the new entry doesn't disappoint me with its quick changes.

The second addition to the trails is out in the "Little Razorback" area. Running the course in the "normal" direction it happens after exiting the trailer and heading into the Razorback hills. It's a short step climb with a 90 degree right hander to a downhill with a 180 degree banked switchback to a bank then up to the Razorbacks. If you did the pre-ride and had figured the gearing right, this was a quick little fun boost to your technical ego.

Amelia is smooth, flowy, carpeted in many places... I always recommend it to beginning mountain bikers as a place to start cutting their chops. Which is fine if your riding for fun. But if you're here to race it's a while different story. The sultry spell of Amelia is the misconception of smooth, flowy "piece of cake" just go fast.

Any of you who race Amelia know, and forget every year, that at speed you're constantly turning, carving and pedaling. There are no rest spots.   Especially this race where the "Paintball" trail was taken out. Amelia in race mode is non-stop attack with your bike whether you're in a pack or alone. And to top it off the last 1/4 mile to the timing trailer was into the wind... Which seemed to get stiffer each lap.

I talked to several experienced riders who were just whooped after this race. While my wife Mickey was photographing the Yelo wave out in the "Little Razorback" area she saw a rider on his last lap walking his bike.   She asked if he was ok. He said " ya, I ride here all the time, I thought 2 laps would be too easy so I entered Sport". She convinced him to get back on his bike and finish... Which he did.

Today's lesson...
Don't underestimate the demands of a smiling mountain bike trail.

And with that my friends we move onto the last race of the Specialized Florida State Championship at the ever popular Trails at Santos Trailhead.

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

Steve Larue takes a single speed win in Hialeah

2014-2015 Coconut Cup South Florida series #3 - Amelia Earhart Park - Hialiah, FL 11-30-14

Awesome weather and racing for the 3rd round of the series which was also a make up race for the FSC racers which always brings a level of excitement to an already competitive race.

Many thanks to Amelia mountain bike trails crew they do an amazing job at this park and as always had some new features that brought out the grins and got the heart pumping.  The round sponsor was Sun Cycling of Hialeah and they handed out over $2000 woth of gift certificates to the racers.

The course was 7.5 miles long and features lot's of fun rolling sections and small jumps and includes a number of over and under sections with bridges, tunnels and there is even a boat on the trail, definately one of the more creative courses we have ever seen.

The combined expert class saw Bob McCarty take a comanding win over the field while teammate Kathy Russell topped the women's top class.  The next FSC race is in Ocala on 12-14-14  for the FSC final which is also a Coconut Cup make up race and then round 4 of the CC series comes right back to Hialeah the first weekend of  January with a Time Trial on Saturday and the XC race on Sunday.

 

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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

Carlos Bigas goes over the top at Alva FSC / CC

2014 Specialized Bicycles Florida State Championship series #8 / Coconut Cup series #2 - Caloosahatchee Park - Alva, FL 11-23-14

The weather was a bit concerning but all in all the racers dodged a bullet as only a small amount of rain fell on Saturday night which was enough however to make the first wave a little on the slick side for the first part of the race.  There were quotes like ice rink and slipperly but fortunately no major problems.

Many thanks to Mudcutters bike club who had the trails flowing nicely and they had done a ton of work recently to make sure everything was cleared back and smooth.  The club also served up lunch and marshalled the event with a ton of volunteers.  The round sponsor was the newly opened bike shop in Ft Myers JRA or (Just Riding Along) and they handed out lot's of great prizes (over $2000 worth).

The course is the longest of the FSC and CC circuits at a little over 10 miles and many of the classes were set to run "full loops" plus "half loops" to get the milage in order.  The trail also has a reputation of being fast and fun with some of the more technical trails in the middle section called the "Far East".

The Elite series race for the jersey got a little more interesting as Shawn Smith took the overall win over Dwayne Allgire and series leader Bob McCarty.  Shelly Allen cruised to another win in the Womens cat 1 class and In the team championship team Super Cool bike shop extened it's lead to 6 points.

Charlie Haimes took home the $50  First Place Racing Fast Lap Fifty award in the 50+ expert class.  Next event is a Coconut Cup series race and an FSC make up race 11-30-14 in Hialeah.

 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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