Oh it is far, but we got there surprisingly quick. I will not mention however here how quick… :)
When we arrived in the park in the late Friday afternoon we saw through the window Fast Freddy with other Rose Bandit pre-riding the course. They were covered head to toe in mud. It rained before and parts of the trail were soaking wet. We got on the bikes pretty quickly and went to check out the course.
The trails here are fun, fast and super interesting. Small stream crossing, some little uphill, few different forks where you can make your call which way is faster and better for your racing abilities and cool two pump trucks toward the end of the course. The jumps however were soaked and all it was is just piles of clay and mud. We were able to see most of the trail however and were done for the day.
The following morning shortly after our arrival the park sky just opened up and it started down pouring so badly the park was completely flooded. Race director decided to cancel the Time Trial bonus race that was supposed to take place today and asked riders to stay off the course. That meant no more practice for us.
On the race morning I and my team decided to show up early so we can preview the course before the race start. Surprisingly most of the water drained and there were only some muddy spots. We all wished however it was completely dry since this course is just asking to be flied on! It is just super fast!
It was eleven of us on the start line and I remember just feeling nauseous. It was after all the first race for the season and all in the new Sport class. Start line was however on a nice grassy downslope and the moment the gun went off I flew like there is no tomorrow and it was pretty obvious that instantly I was in the lead. Sped through the grass into the forest and I was able to enjoy my lead on the single track for some 1.5-2 maybe miles. There was a little steam crossing which was fine during the practice when the speeds are little slower but now in the race I went to it so fast and it was so deep that it almost stopped me still. I created a giant splash (I called it a tidal wave) that I was very proud of and just wished that my husband could see it, since he was still toward the start line packing his gear after taking pictures of us most likely. Luckily however there was someone with a camera right there in the happening spot and later on we were able to locate those pictures!
The girl right behind me Candice yelled to me in the laughing tone, thx Beata now my whole butt is wet thx to you. I laughed to her back saying I’m soaked myself and the race went on.
Than we had some climbs and some muddy spots, I must had been little too careful and hit my brakes too hard since I had two girls pass me on my right there in one spot, It was June and Candice. Also Zee and an awesome rider from Jacksonville got me at some point and I was riding now in the fourth position.
I could see everyone when we were biking through the technical single track with all those forks. We stayed all together and I failed to follow my preplanned path and just followed the leaders.
It was not until the second lap on the second part of the course with twisty single track when Zee made a mistake and got stuck on the top of the steep climb. This is when I made my pass and never looked back.
I felt more rested now than on the first lap and was only wondering how far the leaders were ahead. I kept a very good pace for the reminding of the race and there was a one fun part where bunch of people were yelling and encouraging riders to ride the wall! I did it for fun on the second lap but didn’t want to play with it on the third. I felt very strong and thought I handled the course in pretty good way. I was happy. Ultimately I was 2 minutes behind the leaders on the end of the race. So I got my first podium in the Sport class and it was definitely a great ending to my first attempt.
After the presentation I went on a nice trail run through the forest to close our very fulfilling trip.
Oh I did not mention our Pizza out night with my husband to pretty cool Momo’s pizza place that seems to cater to FSU students. They played there some crazy disco/techno from the 80s and it allowed us to laugh a little and step back in time and relax before the race. Because of this place now I have this crazy song that I made my whole FSC series song that I play for myself before each race!
It’s called “Mortal Combat” and it just takes my stress away very quickly. :)