Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ride of the Living Dead--The Resurrection (10/29/11)

Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of rain outside. "Oh no," I thought, "I hope the Ride of the Living Dead doesn't get rained out."

Last year, Dad and I had dressed up as ninjas and gone on the Ride of the Living Dead for the first time. What is the Ride of the Living Dead? Well, it's kind of a big Halloween party on bikes, and everyone gets together at one trailhead and rides 25-50 miles of the Santos trails. Then we all meet up at one trailhead for lunch and a rest. It was a great time and I really was looking forward to doing it again this year.

Unfortunately, I thought I was going to be really disappointed for a while, because OMBA (who had originally sponsored the ride) canceled it for this year. Luckily, the people at the Ocala Bicycle Center and Greenway Bicycles raised the ROLD from the dead and put on the event themselves, providing food and drinks at the Ross Prairie trailhead and taking donations for OMBA.
I borrowed this from Donnie. Thanks, Donnie!
The sound of the rain in the morning had me worried that the resurrection might not last long. By around 8:30 though, the rain stopped and I got ready to go with my mom. Dad hung around the entrance to Nayl's Trail and took some pictures.
I didn't really have a costume in mind this year, so I told my mom I was going as a professional mountain biker. Real original, right? Mom was going to go as a pirate, but since we knew it was going to be wet on the trails, even if it wasn't raining, she decided to just wear regular bike clothes. After all, her bike was already decked out in Halloween colors--white, black and orange.

Mom and I weren't the only ones who went on the ride without costumes, but the people who did looked like they put some thought into them, and were really fun. Here are pictures of some of them.
 I hope everyone had as good a time as my mom and I had and that next year, the Ride of the Living Dead will be even bigger!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FSC #5--Alachua, Florida (10/23/11)

The fifth race of the FSC took us back to San Felasco Hammock in Alachua, the site of the 8 Hours of Labor race that I did with my friends in September and my very first win in the kids' 9-11 class last year. I was really looking forward to it.

It was super cold in the morning, and I sat under a blanket in front of a heater with several of my friends, trying to stay warm.

This year, the course for the kids' races was longer and included some more trail than last year. I think it was about 4 miles long for us and 2 miles long for the girls and younger kids.

I got into the trail behind Bryce and Nicho, but made the pass on them once we came out of the single-track and on to the grass heading to the finish line on the first lap.
 On the second lap, Bryce, Nicho and Josh had a very exciting sprint to the finish, with Josh crossing the line ahead of Nicho and Bryce to take second place. Look at the determination on his face. Now, that's what racing is all about!!

As always, the Juniors 11-14 race was super-competitive. We had a large group with 17 lining up for the start. The starting line was not very wide, so we were jammed really close together, making it a little bit scary coming off the line. In fact, I think Trent and I might've bumped handlebars at the start.

As you can see from the pictures, I didn't get a great start off the line. I think I was about 9th or 10th going into the single-track. I made the mistake of sitting on some wheels when I should've passed, and got held up by some of the women (but NOT Madison), who either don't like to let the boys pass, or don't have enough experience letting people by, but otherwise, I think I rode a really good race. I still came in 8th (AGAIN!!! Ugh...), but I felt like I rode well most of the time.
Adam, Jacob, and Dustin

Eric and Me

Nicho and Vince
Near the end of the last lap I started cramping up really bad in my legs and unfortunately, it cost me one spot when I got passed coming into the finish. My mom took me to get checked out by a medic, because it was hurting so badly I was crying, but there wasn't really anything he could do to help. My dad video recorded it and included it on the video (so embarrassing). 

You can watch all the race action from the Juniors 11-14 race in the video below.

Next week, we have a break from racing, but my mom and I are planning to do the Ride of the Living Dead across 50 miles of the Santos Trails here in Ocala. So, if you plan to be out riding on Saturday VERY afraid. Muahaha!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FSC #4--Lithia, Florida (10/16/11)

Last weekend's race at Alafia River State Park was definitely a challenging one for me. First of all, I got grounded by my mom for losing my temper and saying some things I shouldn't have during the 9-11 year olds' race at Haile's Trail two weeks ago and had to sit this race out. I still cheered for my friends, and my dad still made a video, but it was hard to not be racing.

Secondly, the course at Alafia is really cool, but very technical and difficult. And third, after getting a better start than I have for a while, I had my chain come off more than once during the Juniors' race and lost time and spots having to fix it. Bummer.
 The good news is that I finally got my new glasses last week and was able to actually see the trail markers and trees BEFORE I hit them. (Ha! Ha!) In the video of the Juniors' race, you can see what I mean about the trail being one of the harder but fun courses to ride.You can also see that I wasn't the only one to have some trouble out there.

On the podium this week: Dustin (1st), Adam (2nd), John (3rd), Jacob (4th), Taylor (5th). Good job, guys!!

I also want to congratulate Madison for her 4th place finish in the Base Women's race. Check out her blog at My Life As A Mountain Biker. You can see her riding hard in the video too.

Next week, we race close to home again at San Felasco Hammock in Alachua. This is where I did the 8 Hours of Labor race with Trent and Bryce. I really like the trail, so it should be another great race!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

FSC #3--Gainesville, Florida (10/1-2/11)

The third race of the Florida series took place at Haile's trails in Gainesville. Haile's is cool because the trail takes you through the woods, in and out of a lime rock quarry, and even around the edge of a deep pit full of water. It's only open twice a year, too; once during the SERC series and once during the FSC. The first time I rode it was in March, for the SERC series. I won the kids race, but didn't do nearly as well in the juniors class (I came in dead last).  This time, I had much higher hopes.

The kids race is always exciting at Haile's, and this time was no different. The big story for this race is how Nicho overcame a mistake that cost him a lot of positions to come in second at the finish.
Apparently, Nicho went the wrong way at the finish and didn't go through the scoring part and had to turn around and come back through. This cost him a lot of time and other kids went past him. Because I was racing too, I didn't see what happened, but my dad said Nicho got his determined race face on and took off like a rocket after the other kids. When he caught up to a whole bunch of them bottle-necked in the woods, he got off his bike and ran through the woods to get around them, ultimately finishing in 2nd. Way to go, Nicho!! That's awesome determination!

Start of the Juniors race
This week, while watching helmet-cam footage of the Juniors' start, I realized that I definitely need to work on getting off the line faster. I had a horrible start, which meant I had to spend a lot of time working my way through traffic at the beginning.  Overall though, it was a good race and I absolutely love the course. There were several position changes during the two laps with guys jockeying for spots all along the course, and gaining or losing positions due to wrecks or walking. I finished in the middle of the pack in 8th, which seems to be my spot lately. My goal for Alafia next week is to break out of that rut and into a podium spot.

My mom took some cool pictures in the woods and on the rocks section, and my dad managed to edit together a video of the race. It took him all week to do this, but I'll explain why at the end.

These next pictures were taken around the edge of the quarry pit, on one of the tough, rocky, technical lime rock sections. There are a whole bunch more on's facebook page. Unfortunately, we couldn't get them to upload properly here.

Below is the video for the Juniors race.

The reason it took so long to get the videos done and the blog updated this week is because my dad fell during his race and tore his knee open on a root. He had to get a ton of stitches and hasn't been feeling too well, especially since he's going to miss at least a few races. Hopefully his knee will heal quickly so he can get back out on the trail with me.