Sunday, February 3, 2013

Coconut Cup #5 Virginia Keys

Wow: perfect does not even begin to describe the weather and atmosphere at this tucked away new trail near downtown port of Miami.  This was the first time Gone Riding has done an event at this location and it is safe to say it is a keeper.  Temperatures were in the 70's with sunshine and lots of music pumping from the Virginia Key Bicycle Club sound system which was positioned right in the middle of the trail system. One rider described it as "being able to race your bike at a disco", "Bicycle beach party" was another quote.  And oh yes there was a bike race going on as well, the 6 mile course has some of the most fun and unique trails in South Florida and the VK club had it in great shape for the race and they also handled the course marshal chores during the event while doing a fair amount of cheering for the racers as well

Only two weeks after today’s race this Mtb Park will be celebrating their two year anniversary. All I can say is that it’s a shame I never got out here sooner. My first ride in this beautiful, tucked away new trail system so close to downtown and port of Miami and positioned right on the beach happened only a few weeks before the event. It didn’t take me long to realize that the awfully long drive from Palm Beach was all worth it when we hit those trails. Right away we had fun, we coasted through ups and down’s, carved the corners, jumped all over the course with sudden little lips just shooting you up in the air. And we welcomed and enjoyed conquering all the man-made obstacles, boards, bridges and staircases and narrow passes. While riding you also have a nice view on the Fisher Island and gorgeous ocean… 

I have to admit that after my first ride in the park I was very excited and anxious to race here.

Since then I had to get out there once again before the race and made a day there with my husband Pax and two girlfriends Jen and Melissa. We had great time riding and exploring the park! Right before heading home we stumbled upon “Frenchie” who I was very glad to meet for the very first time. He spent two years in here working hard and designing and building all those awesome miles only relying on his imagination. We even got a private tour of the “secret section” of the advanced trail that was going to be opened and shown to the public during the anniversary party.

Each time here I had a great time so it was not surprise that I showed up happy and pumped on race morning. It was cool out and sunny. There was a lot of excitement in the air; it was first race for the park and for the racers. Race director decided to keep most of the course in the race with only the most technical trail “Gateway to Hell” out of it. Maybe considering the name itself, was a good idea… 

I stood on the start today with Jane and two other girls battling for precious points for overall standings.

To be honest I was not sure how the start and the beginning of the race was going to be approached by Jane who pretty much was my main rival for the day. After the gun went off however the intentions were quite clear to me. Jane stood up and hammered as hard as she could. We all took off and left a cloud of dust (at least it’s how it felt like) behind us. I remember looking to the right toward the water and people standing to the side and I was astonished that we were passing everything so fast. It was a long race and probably there was not need of going that hard right from the start. I was left however with no choice. 


We aligned nicely in order and rolled down to the most grueling part on the loose sand and twisty climbs. After that still in the same order we disappeared in the technical part of the course. First trial is bumpy, rooty, squiggly and definitely challenging at speed. Once in a while you pop out on the double track that heads a little higher up and exposes a nice view of the water once again to dive in to the next section. I tried to stay in a relatively close distance, I always had sight on Jane and girls behind me slowly started to fall back. There was however a good amount of effort from my side to try to keep up. I remember getting out once again to the double section and seeing Jane just hammering away, I did the same and we repeated it many times over and over again. Seconds later however I was back on the single track and close to her wheel. We played this way for quite a while. It was a battle of who has more energy to keep on pushing. After maybe little more than half of the lap it become evident to me that I was not going to get dropped and I kept a solid hold on Jane. 

Toward almost the lap’s end we went through the sections with the boat approaching the staircase. This is where Jane lost traction and slid on the loose pine needles and rocks. I was right behind in matter of seconds and I was going by her assuring she was doing fine. All there was left was the final monster climb and long open descend that was leading to the check point.  I was announced a leader of my class for the first lap. From there on I kept a very good pace. I saw Jane still on the hot and brutal exposed climbs but after going into the sticks I didn’t see her anymore. Now it was just me and the track, which is what I really enjoy. Now I had opportunity to pay more attention to the surroundings, friends cheering from the sidelines. I had a good ride and there was really loud and fun sections with a big truck set up in the middle of the park with a huge speaker system just rocking the whole forest. You could hear it from many parts of the race course, but going right by it was loud and people there were full of energy yelling and encouraging riders. Since the course was set up quite short the three laps that I had to do went by pretty quick. Not much later I was on my third lap already just riding my own pace and enjoying the track. I approached one more time the big climb and final descend and finished the race in 1st. 

This was also my fist race representing with new local bike shop, Bike Tech and I was happy I could start it with the victory. I met a lot of new teammates from the new team and had a great time hanging post-race, cheering racers and friends riding in other classes and just simply enjoying the beautiful day…

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