Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Georgia State Championship Series Finale--Helen, Georgia (7/17/11)

Sunday was the last race of the GSC in Helen, Georgia, as well as the awards banquet for the series. I was a little nervous about this one because we weren't going to be able to get to the trail until Sunday morning and I wasn't going to be able to pre-ride the course. Fortunately, some friends gave us a heads-up on what the trail was like. Basically, it was a whole lot of climbing and not much technical stuff.
The kids' course was easy, except for the big uphill climb to the finish. A lot of the smaller kids had to walk/run it, but it was fun. I ended up doing an extra lap with the 3-5 year olds.

Unfortunately, the juniors race was another one of those races I'd like to be able to do over. It started out pretty good. My friend Nico (from the Florida series) came up with his parents and did the juniors' race with Trent and I. The last time I got to see Nico was at the 12 Hours of Santos race, so I was glad he came.
Trent racing hard

We had a large class of 14 kids, with just about every super-fast kid in the class showing up, and I was about middle of the pack for the first couple of miles. I was riding strong and working my way through traffic when all of a sudden.....BONK!!! I got light-headed and just couldn't seem to keep going. Everyone started passing me and there was nothing I could do to keep up. It was very upsetting, but I didn't give up, and I didn't cry. I just kept going, although it was at a snail's pace, and I was NOT very happy about it.

Nico sprints up the hill for the finish
 What happened? Well, my stomach was not feeling well in the morning (my mom thinks it was just race nerves because it seems to happen every Sunday) and I didn't eat anything but a banana for breakfast, and didn't eat anything before the juniors race. Also, my dad said I spent too much time riding around, wearing myself out instead of resting between races. the time I got half-way through the race, my body just shut down (otherwise known as 'bonking'). I guess this is lesson number two this season:  Eat, drink, and rest before races.

In the end, Dustin blew everyone away to come in first. Nico came in 9th, which in this group was really good, especially for his first time racing in the mountains, and Trent wasn't too far behind. I was fortunate enough just to not finish last. Very disappointing.

After the race, we went to the Unicoi Lodge for the Awards Banquet. This is where the overall awards for the whole George State Championship series are given out.
I had a great time in the GSC and finished the Kids 9-11 class with a perfect record to win the championship. It was exciting because it was my first time winning. In both the Florida and Coconut Cup series, Trent won.
Even though I had a disappointing finish in the last race, I still managed to take third place overall in the Juniors 11-14 class. Dustin won first, Thomas took second, and Zach finished in fourth. Considering how good so many of the racers in this class are, I was extremely happy to make the podium for the overall awards. Plus, the sponsors gave out some super-cool stuff.

In addition to my wins, my dad also had a perfect series and won the championship for the Base 40-49 Men. I am very proud of him because he trains very hard to get better each week.
Overall, it was a very good day for the Maces, and for our sponsor, In addition to Dustin's win and our podium places, Mr. Zimmerman (Dustin's dad) also made it to the podium with a championship win in the Expert 40-49 class.

Now we get a break from series racing for a few weeks before heading back up north to Fontana, North Carolina for the last SERC race. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Epic Vacation Part 4: Six Flags St. Louis & SERC #9--Huntsville, Alabama (7/10/11)

On the way out of Breckenridge, we stopped here to check out the view and take a picture with this sign, before starting the next part of our road trip. 

After spending the night in a motel somewhere in Missouri, my parents surprised my brother and I with a day trip to Six Flags St. Louis. We were really excited. I was excited because I'd never been to Six Flags, and Ryan was excited because he went to Six Flags Atlanta on a school trip and loved it.
We went on all kinds of cool roller coasters and water rides. It was extremely hot that day, but fortunately the lines were extremely short, so we got on the rides right away, and sometimes we even got to stay on and continue riding as many times as we wanted. My favorite rides were the wooden roller coasters.

Believe it or not, my dad even managed to put together a short video of our experience at Six Flags using footage he took with his phone.

The next day we arrived in Huntsville, Alabama for SERC #9. When we got there it was raining and my parents were concerned about tent camping in a potential thunderstorm, so they got a cabin for the first night. It was pretty awesome!
All the cabins were along the crest of one mountain overlooking the valley below. It's hard to see in the picture because everything was still hazy from the rain.
On Saturday we pre-rode the 9.5 mile course. It started out a slight uphill climb on a paved road and then turned off into single-track. The first section was very rocky and a little bit scary in places, but once we got past that it wasn't too bad, until we hit a crazy, rocky downhill with tight switchbacks that also were a little scary. The last mile of the course was another gradual uphill climb on pavement, before going back into a short single-track to the finish. I thought it was kind of a cool course and I was looking forward to the race.

Our friend Jane took this picture along the trail.

Mr. Donovan talks over strategy with Lily.

The kids' course included the first section of road, but turned the opposite direction into the last bit of single-track to the finish. It was short, so we did more laps. I did 5. The girls and the 6-8 year old boy did 3.

I was the only one in my class, so Trent bet me that I couldn't lap his sister, Lily. The girls started about 30 seconds after me, so that was quite a challenge, but I took it. And guess what? I did it. I actually managed to lap Lily on the third lap. I don't think she was very happy about that.

The video of the kids' race is below.

The juniors' race was pretty exciting. There were 8 of us this week. I went into the woods in 6th place, but worked my way past a few other boys to finish in third. Trent finished right behind me again to take 4th. It felt great to get up on the podium again!!

This weekend was really fun for my family because not only did I get 3rd, but my dad won his race, and my mom even got on the podium for 3rd.

This weekend we'll be in Helen, Georgia for the last race of the GSC series. I hope to do well enough to secure a top-3 overall finish for the Georgia series. The banquet and awards ceremony is right after the race. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Epic Vacation Part 3: Breckenridge, Colorado

Overlooking Breckenridge

After Ft. Collins, we headed west, to spend 4 days in Breckenridge, Colorado, where my dad was going to be doing the Firecracker 50 race.

The highlight for me was Maggie Pond. In the winter, the pond is frozen and they use it for ice skating. In the summer, it was great for fishing. There was a cool tackle shop in town where I got some nice flies and lures that helped me catch a really big brown trout. Look at the size of this monster!!!
Of course, I released him back into the pond and watched him swim away. In Breckenridge, there is a catch and release rule, but I would've let him go anyway, even if there was no rule.

In addition to fishing, we also did some other cool stuff, like hiking and touring an actual gold mine.
Check out this tree. It grew really weird, but made for an interesting place to sit and rest along the trail.
In this picture, my mom and I were counting the rings on the stump of a tree that had been cut down. By our count, this tree was over 100 years old!! It's kind of sad that it was cut down after surviving so long.

The scenery here was just like something out of a book. It was really awesome!

This is a covered wagon like the kind people moved west in during the 1800s. It seems awfully small to have carried whole families and all of their things, and makes me appreciate the minivan that we have to take us across the country.
This is Ryan and me inside the mine. He looks really goofy in this picture, doesn't he? (LOL)  It was VERY dark, cold and wet down there. That's why we have on rain coats. Our tour guide told us that kids our age used to work in the mine as 'blast monkeys,' meaning that they had to set the dynamite charges and blast the holes in the rock for the miners to mine. It was very dangerous and they only got paid 10 cents a day to do it. Whew! Glad I wasn't a kid in Breckenridge at that time.

After the tour, we learned how to pan for gold in the stream. It wasn't easy. I kept thinking I found pieces of gold, but it turned out to just be fool's gold and I was totally disappointed. I wanted to keep panning until I found some real gold, but my parents made me leave before I found any.

The tour guide also explained to us how donkeys were used around the mine. Four of them were roaming around outside the mine the day we were there for people to pet and take pictures of. This one came right up next to my mom when she was panning and posed for a quick picture. Isn't she cute?

The Firecracker 50 race that my dad was doing was held on the 4th of July. It started with all of the racers riding through town on the parade route. After they went through, the actual parade started. There were 750 people in the race, so it was huge. The course was 2 laps of 27 miles each and according to my dad, was extremely tough because of how much climbing it had in it. Of course, it wouldn't be a race without a race video, and Dad made a cool one to show what went on during this one.
For those people who wanted to participate but couldn't do the whole 54 miles, there was a shorter course, called the 'Sparkler', which was for beginning riders and Juniors, and it was only one lap of about 14 miles. My mom rode it with my dad during his pre-ride one day and said it was tough, but very fun. I would've loved to do the Sparkler race, but there was an age requirement of 13, so I guess I'll have to wait a couple more years.

The finish line

This is my dad coming down the mountain for the last switchback section before the finish line on his final lap.

My dad did great for his first time racing in the Rocky Mountains. There were 79 people in his class who actually finished the course and my dad came in 28th, with a time just over 6 hours. He was totally wiped out afterwards.

The next morning we left Breckenridge to start our drive back towards Huntsville, Alabama for SERC #9.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Epic Vacation Part 2: Ft. Collins, Colorado

Mom and me at Horsetooth Reservoir
After the SERC race in Clemson, we drove out to Ft. Collins, Colorado and stayed a few days with some friends. One day we went mountain biking with them at some trails alongside the Horsetooth Reservoir. It was fun because the trails were hard-packed, not too rocky, and easy. Angela and Josh got tired after a couple of miles so they went back to the reservoir so Josh could swim, and my mom, dad, and I rode on for another few miles, meeting up with them a little later on.

Besides mountain biking, my other favorite thing to do is go fishing. Luckily, my friend Josh also loves to go fishing, so we spent a lot of time at the pond in the park near his house fishing. He said that the city had stocked it with bass and trout and we caught some pretty nice ones while I was there. This poor guy got hurt while I was pulling him in.
This is a fox that I saw at the elementary school in Josh's neighborhood on the way to the pond.
Josh also has a trampoline in the back yard. His sister Ashley is a gymnast. While we were there, I learned how to do a front flip on the trampoline. This is a short video my mom took with my phone. The first one I landed on my feet, but the second one I didn't do as well.

The same day I learned to do the front flip, my parents and I went riding on the Blue Sky trail. This trail followed a ridge up to a place called Devil's Backbone and overlooked a valley.
Before we had gone too far on our ride, my dad had to make some repairs to my bike, because it just wasn't shifting right. (This probably had something to do with the fact that I got fishing line caught in the derailleur the day before and had to cut it out--oops!)
This trail was more difficult than the one at Horsetooth, because it was more rocky and required more climbing, but was still fairly easy. Here are some more pictures my mom and dad took on the ride.

After Ft. Collins, it was on to Breckenridge and part 3 of our epic vacation......