Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Florida State Championship Series #2--Fernandina Beach, Florida (9/25/11)

Ft. Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach was the location of the second FSC race this past weekend. It was a pretty fun course. We rode through pine trails within walking distance of the beach and also spent a good bit of time on the road.

Last year, Ft. Clinch was my very first kids race and it was a tough one at the time. It was one of the longest courses in the series and I ended up finishing in 6th place. This year, I wanted to win it. Unfortunately, a bad strategy call by me, combined with some very good racing by my friend Nicho kept that from happening. See what I mean in the short kids' race video below.

{Unfortunately, technical difficulties in the camera department (my dad didn't charge the battery in the video camera & left the memory card to the good snapshot camera at home) limited how many photos were taken at the event and how good they came out.}

In the Junior race, I lined up with 11 other boys. Going into the woods I was in the middle of the pack and riding well. Then, 4 of us took a wrong turn on the course and my dad yelled at us and got us to turn around and get back on the right track. Of course, that cost all of us time and let the top 3 riders create a big gap.

Jacob finishes first
At the start of the second lap, I had made up some time, and was working with Trent to catch up to the others. Unfortunately, I didn't hydrate enough during the first lap. By the middle of the 2nd lap, I was so thirsty and tired that when I came back out on the road, I completely drained my hydropak. Then I felt better, but Trent, Eric and John Michael had pulled away from me. So....where did I finish? I finished in 7th. Not the best finish, but I'm staying positive because it's a long season.

John Michael

Taylor and Nicho
Nicho finishes
Trent got a podium with his 5th place finish.

One really cool thing that happened at FSC #2 is that I finally got to meet Madison. Who is Madison? Well, she is a 10-year-old girl who races mountain bikes and has her own blog. Last year, my dad showed me her blog (which I still follow) and it gave me the idea for this one. So I guess you could say that she was the inspiration for Mountain Bike Mike.

Anyway, I finally got to meet her and she is really cool. She's a little bit shy, like me, but a very good mountain biker. Last weekend, she raced against the Base Women and totally rocked! She came in 2nd place. Go Madison!! If you want to check out her blog, I have a link to it on the side bar of my page under Mountain Biking Related Links.------------------------------> 

After the race, a whole big group of us went with our families to the beach to swim and play. That was one of the benefits of having a race in Fernandina Beach.
It felt really good to wash away all the dirt and sweat from the race. Somehow we all must have been thinking the same thing too, because we all brought boogie boards with us. It was a lot of fun.
Next weekend we race at Haile's Trail in Gainesville, Florida for FSC #3.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mountain Bike Mike Goes Roadie at the Ocala Stage Race--Day Two (9/18/11)

Day two of the Ocala Stage Race started out as usual for me--running late and rushing to the event. LOL

Actually, it was a nice day for a race. The weather was kind of cool and windy out, so it was starting to feel like fall. When we all lined up for the start, there were more kids there than yesterday also, so I knew it would be a good race.

Robert and me
The course was 15 miles of road through Ocala's horse country. We rode past all kinds of horse farms. Unlike the day before, the group did a better job working together on the pace-line and we spent the first half of the race all together.

 Just like yesterday, though, a few of the older boys broke away from the pack and took off.
The break away group
 As the race went on, different groups started forming, with some falling back while others went on ahead. I managed to stay with the lead kids in my group until Sophie broke away from us and I wound up sprinting to the finish with two other guys. Actually, my sprint wasn't much of a sprint, because my legs were so tired by the end, but I managed to finish in third, just behind Charlie. In the overall, I earned second place behind Charlie, and Robert got third.
Sophie wins the 10-12 race
Charlie for second
Me finishing third
Fourth place finisher
After the race, it was kind of nice. I got to hang out and talk with a couple of the boys and also with Charlie's dad. He takes pictures of the races too, so I can't wait to see what he puts up.

I got to talk to them about mountain bike racing too, which is something I know more about. It was kind of funny. At school, when I talk to my friends about bikes and mountain biking, they have no idea what I'm talking about. Today, when we were talking about road bikes and racing, I had no idea what they were talking about. Somehow, mountain bike language is totally different from road bike language, even though we're basically just talking about bikes and racing.
Stage 3 podium
Overall podium
In the end, it was a great weekend of racing for me. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about road riding and racing. I also made a couple of new friends at the event. And who can complain about getting on the podium four times in one weekend? Even so, I am really looking forward to getting back to the trails and back on the mountain bike. Road racing is fun, and I will probably do more events when they are scheduled on non-FSC weekends, but mountain bike racing is what I really love to do. After all, this blog isn't called Mountain Bike Mike for nothing!

Next weekend is FSC #2 at Ft. Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach and I can't wait!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mountain Bike Mike Goes Roadie at the Ocala Stage Race--Day One (9/17/11)

Since this weekend was an off-week for the FSC series, my dad and I traded dirt for asphalt and entered the Ocala Stage Race, a road race made up of 3 stages over 2 days: an individual time trial sandwiched between 2 longer road races.

I was really excited! I had competed in one road race before, and I did ok, but I really wanted to do better this time. During the week, I went on the bike shop group ride and got to practice riding the pace-line, which helped a lot during the beginning of the first 12-mile race, when we were all riding together.

Near the middle of the race, two of the bigger boys broke away and took off. 
First 2 finishers

Then a third and fourth boy took off and I wanted to catch them, but the group wouldn't work together to reel them in and I ended up pulling everyone. When I moved aside to let someone else take the lead, nobody came forward and we slowed way down, which let those two just get farther and farther ahead. I decided to try to catch up on my own, but I wasn't able to make up the time.
3rd place finisher

4th place finisher
5th place finisher

By the time I got to the 2K mark (2000 meters to the finish), one of the bigger boys behind me had caught up and was making a move to pass. I tried to turn on the jets to sprint to the finish and prevent him from passing me, but unfortunately, I got really bad stomach cramps and had to coast down the last hill. I ended up finishing in 6th place overall, but 2nd in my age group (10-12).

Later in the afternoon, I competed in the individual time trial. Unlike last weekend's mountain bike race, where I was the very last person to start, I was the very first person to go off this time. The course was just 2.5 miles out and back, and all I had to do was go as fast as I could. Easy breezy!
I had kind of an awkward start. The marshall held my bike until the timer said I could go. Unfortunately, he kept tilting it to the side and I didn't have my balance steady at the beginning. Fortunately, it wasn't such a problem that I couldn't get started. I finished the 5 mile lap in just under 14 minutes, with an average speed of 20.5 mph. I felt pretty good about my time until I heard it announced that people were doing it in 12 minutes, then 11, then 10, and someone even broke the 10 minute mark.
Still though, my time was good enough for a second place finish, which is pretty good for a mountain biker, I think.

What's even better is that one of the guys my dad mountain bikes with a lot, Donnie, actually did the time trial on his mountain bike. His time was pretty good too. Way to go, Donnie!!

So, after 2 stages of the race are complete, I'm in 2nd place overall. My finish in the last race will determine how I finish for the entire weekend. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Florida State Championship Series #1--Tallahassee, Florida (9/10 & 9/11/11)

The FSC is here! The FSC is here!! That's how excited I was to go up to Tallahassee for the first race of the Florida State Championship series this past weekend. It wasn't because that there was an individual time trial competition on Saturday to get things started. It wasn't because the course included both a BMX flow-track and an actual BMX race track (totally fun!). It wasn't because I was going to get to see a whole bunch of my racing friends and compete against some of the best kids anywhere. It was all of those things put together that had me so excited to be starting the Florida series.
I was the very last one to start the individual time trial.
My family and I got to Tom Brown Park with our friend, Dave, on Saturday morning. We all pre-rode the race course and the time trial course. I even rode the kids course just to make sure I knew where to go. Then, in the afternoon, we lined up for the individual time trial. I was a little surprised that only about half of the 11-14 year old's did the time trial, but maybe they were trying to save their energy for the race the next day. I know I supposedly learned my lesson about wearing myself out on race day, but I figured it was only one lap & I would probably just sleep very well that night. After all, one of the good things about being a kid is that it doesn't take very long to recover. I was really happy with my time and I ended up finishing in 5th.

 The next morning, I lined up with the 9-11 year old's for the start of the kids' races. It was fun to have so many kids in the class to ride against, including my friends Nicho and Bryce, who are very strong riders.
Bryce jumped out to a quick lead. (He's a really quick sprinter from the starting line.) I was in second, and Nicho was in third as we fell into a line before going through the fence at the bottom of the hill.

Austin is the rabbit for the first lap.
Bryce leads at the start.
 When we got into the trail for the second lap, there was a tiny little kid there with his parents and I had to check up on the brakes in order to not hit him. I don't think his parents expected all of us bigger kids to come riding up on them so fast and I know I didn't expect to find them there. Nicho was right behind me and I heard him yell in surprise when he came up to them too. I like it better when Dave lets the bigger kids finish before starting the 3-5 year olds. It's definitely safer that way!

Here are some pictures of some of the kids in the 9-11 class.

Blake and Josh
Bryce K.
The total course length for our group was a little more than 3 miles, and included the BMX track, so it wasn't an easy race. Overall, though, it was a really fun kids' race.


After racing against 12 other boys in the 9-11 class (which was a lot compared to the GSC & SERC races), I was totally stoked to see that there were 20 of us in the Juniors 11-14 class. I know that might sound weird, being excited because there were so many kids to race against, but I realized this week that the best way to get better at racing is to race against the best kids. This might also sound weird, but I think Florida has THE BEST junior racers and a LOT of them.
Several of us who rode in the kids race also lined up for the Juniors' race. I know my mom was worried that I might burn myself out, but I was careful to eat, drink, and rest between races and I was feeling pretty good. (See, I did learn my lesson at Helen.)

The injured rider
The start of the race was ok until one of the guys hit the fence and went over it. You can see how the boy and his bike ended up in my video. I sure hope he didn't hurt himself too badly. He looked like he was in some pain in the photo my mom took later in the race.
Me huffing and puffing
Zack Attack
Trent glad to be done
Overall, it was an awesome race! The course was fast and fun. Lots of my friends did the race. And I rode as hard as I possibly could for the entire 13 miles and finished in 6th. I was a little bit disappointed to have missed the podium by one spot, but I know I did the best that I could do, so I can't complain too much (plus, there are still 8 or 9 more races). 
Dustin takes the win
Talking about the race afterwards

 Check out the video of all the Juniors 11-14 racing action.

Next up, Fernandina Beach for FSC #2......

**Mountain Bike Mike would like to thank Mrs. Donovan for the cool starting line photo that I "borrowed" for this post.**