Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pre-riding the Hammer Head Loop

After dinner tonight, my mom, dad, and I decided to get on the bikes and pre-ride the 25 mile course for the Hammer Head endurance race on May 7th, hosted by Dave (the race promoter) had posted the map for the course on the website earlier and we were eager to check it out. In fact, when we got to the trailhead near our house, we noticed that Dave's truck was in the parking lot (the only one there besides us) and tell-tale signs (literally) of him were all over the trail.

Unfortunately we only got to ride 15 miles of the trail because we got a later start than we hoped and ran out of daylight. Also, I missed the trail in one place where new trail has just been cut, and when I tried to go off-trail and cut back over to the new path, I fell over into a cactus plant or thorn bush and got needles all over my legs. It hurt really bad and my legs were bleeding. My mom had some band-aids in her backpack and that helped a little bit, but it kind of took some of the fun out of the ride.

So just a hint--when you ride the new section of trail, beware of the cactus plants and thorn bushes!

One good thing did happen though. On the way back through the single-track, my dad bet me a dollar that I couldn't beat him to the top of the land-bridge. Well, I faked him out coming out of the woods and onto the rock road, and then I took off and beat him to the top. He said I cheated, but he gave me the dollar anyway.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SERC/US Cup East #3--Spartanburg, South Carolina (4/17/11)

It was another fun race weekend for the Mace family. This time we went up to Spartanburg, South Carolina for SERC #3.
It was really late when we finally got up to the Croft State Park. Our friends, Dan and Jane, had their RV at the campground and let us sleep there for the night. It was a good thing, too, because it rained really hard all night and the wind was blowing hard also. The next morning it was still raining, so we spent some time in the RV with Dan and Jane.

After lunch, the sun finally came out. It was still very windy but we were anxious to get to the trail for our usual pre-ride.  My dad's cousin Arik was coming over from Charlotte to ride in his first novice class race and we were scheduled to meet him and his family at the start/finish line. Also, my dad had gotten a new bike for Arik's 4-year-old son Matt and we couldn't wait for Arik to give it to him so he could try it out. Matty was shy about riding it at first, but once he got on it, it was hard to get him off. Arik signed him up for the race for 3-5 year olds.

My brother Ryan with Matt on his new bike

My dad, mom, Arik, and I rode one lap of the course together. It was muddy and wet, but fun. The first half of the course was faster and flatter than the second half, which had steeper climbs and a lot more roots.

Saturday night we pitched our tents right at the trail so we wouldn't have to rush getting up and ready in the morning. When we left to get dinner, we were afraid the wind might blow the tents over, but fortunately, they were staked down pretty well, and except for one side of Arik and Kim's tent, everything was in the same place when we got back.

It sure was a cold morning.

Race day was awesome!! It was cold in the morning, but warmed up and the wind went away. The kids' races started at 9:00 (instead of 8:30 like usual). All the kids except the 3-5 year olds started at the same time. I'm happy to report that I got another win in the 9-11 year old class and I got to cheer on Matty during the little kids' race. My brother and Trent's sister Lily helped Matty get around the course. Matt got second, but he was convinced he won. It was so cute!

Matthew crosses the finish line.

Unfortunately, I missed the awards and podium picture because the white wave (and my Junior race) went off starting at 9:30. It was the biggest group I've raced in so far with 15 riders starting. I had a pretty good start, but had a difficult time getting around another kid who wouldn't let me pass in the single-track. That slowed me down and was extremely frustrating. I mean, come on, if someone behind you is faster, let them by already!!

Me checking the race results

Anyway, I made some other little mistakes and got held up at the last big whoop-dee-do when some guy stopped at the top of the other side and I had to wait before I could go. That allowed 2 guys in my class to catch up and get ahead of me. I finished in 8th, which was very disappointing, since I think I could've done better. Trent got on the podium with a 4th place finish. I was happy for him but bummed out for me.

To see video of the course that we rode, check out the video of my dad's race at

Overall, it was a pretty good day for the family. Here are all of our race results:

Steve (Dad)--1st Place Base 40-49
Jen (Mom)--4th Place Base Women
Michael (Me)--1st Place Kids 9-11; 8th Place Juniors 11-14
Arik (Dad's cousin)--5th Place Novice/First-Timers
Matthew (Arik's son)--2nd Place--Kids 3-5

Next week is Easter, so we get a break before driving to Winder, Georgia for the SERC #4/GSC #3 race.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mountain Bike Mike Gets Sponsored

I'm so excited! It finally happened....

Mountain Bike Mike got a real life, official sponsor!!!

If you've been following my blog lately, you might have noticed that this logo has been added to the side and has been on my jersey. That's because is my new sponsor. They do all the online race registration for the events, and hopefully, will be doing lots of others in the future.

Of course, I'm not the only racer that First Place Racing is sponsoring. They are also sponsoring several other racers including my dad, who rides in the 40-49 Base class, my mom, who rides in the Women's Base class, several members of the Zimmerman family, who ride mostly in the Sport classes and above, and Drew Edsall, a Pro rider. It is super exciting to be able to wear the same jersey and be part of the same team with all of these successful racers. This is going to be an awesome season!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Georgia State Championship Series #2--West Point, Georgia (4/10/11)

Last weekend, my dad and I took another quick father-son road trip to Georgia to race in the second GSC race. We had planned to pitch a tent near the start/finish line, but we got there so late Saturday night that we decided to just put the seats down in the back of the van and climb into our sleeping bags back there. It wasn't the best night's sleep ever, but it makes for a good story (hehe).

The race took place at Lake Side Park in West Point, Georgia, and it wasn't called "lake side" for nothing. The trail followed the lake for a while and was really pretty. I had planned ahead and brought my fishing pole, so I was all set for some fishing between races.

The kids' race was a lot of fun. The course was short and fast, and my dad got a lot of great video of all the kids in the different classes, and you can see it below.
I took the lead at the end of the second lap and finished in first place again. Ms. Terri teased me about needing to move up a class and give up the kids' races, but I told her, "I'm only 10."

After the 2nd place finish I had at Tsali the week before, I decided to go ahead and race in the Juniors class again.

These are some of the boys that I raced against. One boy you don't see in the picture is Dustin. He is super fast and wins a lot of races in the Junior 11-14 class. I knew he'd be tough to beat, but I was feeling confident that I could do well.
The trail reminded me a lot of Nayl's Trail, a place near my house that my mom, dad, and I ride all the time. The big difference was that there were a few more climbs and the dirt was clay instead of sand. It wasn't a hard course, but just like at Tsali, there was a lot more uphill riding than I am used to doing, but unlike Tsali, the race was the first time I actually got to ride the trail.

I finished 4th out of 9 kids. Dustin's chain broke, but he ran with his bike and still finished 2nd. (I told you he was fast!)

Even though my mom wasn't with us at the race, Dad had her on speaker phone and I could hear her cheering for me when I crossed the finish line. Afterwards, I got to talk to her for a little while and tell her how things went. It was exciting to know that I was going to get on the podium again!
It was a really great day! I got a first AND a fourth place finish, and my dad won the Base 40-49 race. To top it off, I got some new gloves in my goody bag that match my racing jersey and my bike. I can't wait to see what happens next week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SERC/US Cup #2--Bryson City, North Carolina (4/3/11)

When a person thinks about mountain biking, this is probably what they're picturing in their head. Racing in North Carolina was awesome!!!

We got to Tsali Trails just after lunch on Saturday and decided to pre-ride the 13-mile loop that the white wave would be doing the next day. That was the toughest ride I've ever done! I didn't think I would ever make it back to the parking lot. The scenery was nice, but the climbs were so long that I was getting really frustrated. After all, we live in Florida, where there aren't any mile-long uphill climbs.
Of course, the great thing about big uphill climbs is the very fast downhill rides that were a lot of fun.

When we got back to the car, we were supposed to pre-ride a 4-mile loop that would be used for the individual time trials that afternoon, but we were all too tired and decided to rest instead. In fact, I decided not to do the time trial at all and I regret that now, because I could've had at least 3 extra points for the series. I also didn't want to do the Juniors 11-14 race on Sunday because I thought it would be too hard. Lucky for me, I got a good night's sleep and changed my mind in the morning.

The next day, I lined up for the Kids 9-11 race. My friend, Paul, is doing this series too, so he was also there. The course was pretty short, but we had to go up a long fire road before we got to coast down a long singletrack hill to the finish.  
I started out in too hard a gear and Paul got ahead of me, but I caught him at the bend in the road and from there, I stayed out in front. It was another fun first place finish. You can watch it in this week's video.

After the kids race, I decided that I really wanted to do the Juniors race after all, so my parents signed me up. My friend Trent, who beat me so many times in the kids races before, was also going to be doing the race, and I really wanted to beat him for once.

I got a good start and got up to second place going up the first really long hill. I passed my mom, who was racing in the women's class just ahead of us, and she reminded me not to burn myself out on the first big climb. I took her advice, took a drink, and tried to pace myself a little better. This time, the course didn't seem as tough as it did the day before. Maybe that's because I was on a mission.

At the last big creek crossing, Trent caught up to me (I was still in 2nd) and wanted me to let him pass. I said to myself, "NO WAY!" and I took off. Somehow, I managed to get ahead of him by 12 minutes and finished the race in 2nd place and he finished in 3rd.

It was my first REAL podium in a race that counts for USA Cycling points and I felt prouder of this finish than any other so far. I think there's going to be another great rivalry between Trent and me during this series and I'm looking forward to it. 
I worked really hard for this one!

**Mountain Bike Mike would like to thank Jane Hodess for the great scenery photos of the trail and surrounding area.**