Saturday, September 22, 2012

MTBMike Gets His Skinny On at the Shannon Miller Foundation Road Race--Nocatee, Florida (9/22/12)

This weekend, my dad and I decided that since it was an off-week from the FSC series, we would sign up for the Shannon Miller Foundation Road Race in Nocatee, Florida. There are actually 3 events: the road race, an individual time trial, and a criterium (like a short-track race). We chose just to do the road race, so we could have at least a little time at home this weekend.

My dad raced in the Cat 5 group, which went off first, at about 7:30 am. His class did six 6-mile laps. Dad stayed near the front or out in front most of the race. On the 5th lap, the USAC official messed up the lap count and he got confused and thought he was done and had won. He put his arms up and yelled, until another guy in his 3-man break-away informed him that they still had one more lap. Oops! Newbie racer fail. (LOL)

Unfortunately, my dad would end up blowing up with one mile to go and got passed for an 18th place finish. Bummer for him, but as he says, "Another lesson learned."

Juniors mass start

The Junior classes started five minutes behind the Cat 5's. My class only did 12 miles, while the 13-year-old's and up did 36. When the older Juniors went off the front, I went with them. It was awesome! We were averaging 30mph, but I knew that there was no way I could maintain that pace for the whole race, so when a couple of them started pulling away, I didn't try to follow. My first lap time ended up being around 14 minutes for 6 miles because of them. After the race, I found out that one of the guys is really a Cat 4 racer, and another one is a Cat 3 and on the Garmin Development Team. And here I was, a lowly little 12-year-old in my third ever road race trying to hang with them. Even though I couldn't keep up with them for long, it made me feel good to know I kept up with them for about 5 miles while they were hammering it.

I was so happy to be way out front!!
Just before the start of the 2nd lap, a couple of the other older Juniors who were behind me caught up. I rode with them briefly, but when they wanted me to pull up front, I decided to just peel off the back and let them go. I probably should've just stayed with them, but I was tired and wanted to rest and set my own pace. I was pretty far ahead by this time, so I wasn't too worried about riding alone and getting caught.

My second lap time was much slower, but I finished with an overall time of 32 minutes for the win and almost 4 minutes ahead of 2nd place.  I also found out that the guy who came in 2nd is currently leading the series points in Florida, and currently is the #1 USAC-ranked road racer in my age group. Not too shabby for a mountain biker with an entry-level bike and stock wheels. (Some of these guys had bikes/components that cost more than my mom's car!!)

Next week, I'll be back in my natural habitat when we head to Gainesville for FSC #3. Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FSC #2--Fernandina Beach, Florida (9/16/12)

Mike the Merman (Thanks Lily and Kyley)

Last weekend we went to one of my favorite places to race, Fernandina Beach. I wish I could say it's my favorite course to race on, but that wouldn't be true. The reason FSC #2 is my favorite is because of the beach. I love the beach!! For this race, we were just a boardwalk away and I spent as much time as I could in the water (when I wasn't being buried in the sand).

But on to racing....

The course at Ft. Clinch State Park is a bit different than most we do. It starts on the asphalt in the parking lot, with all of us following a pace vehicle (Austin on the little motorcycle) for about a 1/2 mile to the woods and the start of the single-track. We pop out onto the road a couple of times during the race, including the 1/2 mile back up to the finish for scoring and then back down to the first section of single-track again. So, this course requires both off-road and road skills.

This week, I got to the woods first and Troy was third. It didn't take him long to pass Eric though, and before I knew it, he was right on my wheel and we were running a tight one and two through the course.

At the road up to scoring, Troy took the lead and I followed. I should've let him just keep it until we got closer to the single-track again, but I am the type of person who can't stand riding behind others. I passed him back and picked up the pace a bit. That was a big mistake, and I knew it when I was doing it, but couldn't help it and we rode on.

When we popped out of the woods for the road section before the last section of trail, I took a drink and let my guard down. Troy decided to attack and took off. I went after him, and stayed right behind him for a while, but had nothing left in the gas tank to run him down with when he started to gap me. I had used it all up earlier. Troy got his first-ever win and I came in a few seconds later.


Even though I didn't win, it was a great race. I went all out and left it all on the course. Maybe I could've raced smarter, but I couldn't have raced any harder. I think Troy and I are going to be pushing each other to the limit all season and I look forward to the challenge.

Troy gets his first win

Podium:  Troy-1st; Me-2nd; Sam-3rd; Jordan-4th; Dustin-5th (he was at the beach during awards)

Monday, September 10, 2012

2012 FSC #1--Tallahassee, Florida (9/8-9/12)

It's the start of September, and here in Florida that means that it's the start of another fall race season. Woohoo!! Over Labor Day weekend, my dad and I raced with a lot of our friends from Brick City Bicycles at the 8 Hours of San Felasco/8 Hours of Labor. The highlight of that race was Tinker Juarez showing up to race in the Open Solo Men's division (which he won). He was a really cool guy and talked with us and took pictures with us. He ended up riding behind my dad for 2-1/2 laps and said he thought my dad rode really well, which was the highlight of Dad's day.

The Brick City gang with Tinker Juarez in the middle
My teammate, Ryan Woodall and me
This past weekend was the kick-off of the Florida State Championship series in Tallahassee and I was ready to race. Matt Donovan put together some really good teams for this season, and I got on the best team of all, because I get to claim my favorite Florida Pro racer, Ryan Woodall, as my teammate. How awesome is that?!?  By the way, check out our new black team kits. They are super-sweet!

Anyway, we got up to Tallahassee on Saturday around lunch time for a pre-ride before the individual time trial that was scheduled to start in the afternoon. I was really looking forward to comparing my lap times to the other guys. Unfortunately, a big thunder storm made Dave Berger postpone the ITT until the 3rd series race at Haile's Trail because everything was flooded. Bummer.

Waiting the storm out

Fortunately, on Sunday the weather was really nice and we were able to do the cross-country race.

My class had one of the biggest turn-outs so far, with 19 of us lining up to race. The crazy thing about this course though, is there's a fence with about a 3-foot opening that everyone has to funnel through single-file at the bottom of a hill before you cross a road and enter the woods. Well, I knew other people had hit the fence and some had gone over their handlebars already, so I wanted to make sure I got a good start off the line.

Actually, I had a little trouble clipping into my pedals at the start, but I still made it through the fence just fine, and hit the woods in third place behind Troy and Sam.

Right behind me was Dustin Zimmerman--remember Dustin from last year? It was great to be racing with him again. We've missed him hamming it up for the camera.

That's the other thing that's so cool about being back in Florida racing--seeing all my friends that I haven't seen most of the summer.

Eric and Trent


Ethan and Bryce
It turned out to be one very fast race. The pump track and BMX track were taken out of the race due to the rain, so the course was a bit shorter than usual. Troy, Sam and I rode together for a little while, until I passed Troy and Sam, and Troy came with me. The two of us rode together the whole rest of the race. Troy tried to pass me a couple of times, but when I saw him, I stepped on the gas. It was a lot of fun having him push me like that and we finished first and second, having put a gap of a couple of minutes on Sam, who finished third.

Troy finished right behind me
Tallahassee was a very exciting first race of the series and I can't wait to get to Fernandina Beach this coming weekend to do it again!
Juniors 11-14 Podium:  Me, Troy, Sam, Jordan, Ethan A.
Be sure to check out the video from the race.
**Note: For some reason, my dad's video from FSC #2 keeps popping up in the spot where my FSC #1 should be. If this happens to you, just click on the word "Playlist" at the bottom of the video, and select the right video. Sorry. :-(