Sunday, October 5, 2014

Specialized Florida State Championship Series # 3 - Alafia State Park- Lithia, FL

FSC # 3 Alafia

2nd Place - Pro/Expert Women

Simply, I LOVE RIDING MY BIKE and I'm happy it showed today in this great result while flying it on my favorite course...

And yes bikes do know how to fly, you just have to know how to convince them to do so... :-)

Ladies Podium

My favorite race for sure finally is here. Whole year of waiting to arrive once again in this beautiful and always kind to me park. The trails here are just so perfect, they represent everything mountain biking in Florida is about. They have flow to the awesomely technical single track, with many man made bridges crossing the green swamps, steep hills of Magic Island and narrow passages on the edge of the water. Very fun, challenging and joyful place to ride a bike.


Besides all the not so great weather predictions a few days back we got the most dream like weather showing up just for the race day. It drizzled a little the day before making some sections soggy and soft but overall trails were in really great shape. Overnight, the unusual for this time of the year, a cold front rolled in and we woke up to amazing 56 degree weather. Nice! In Florida it’s winter in the middle of summer, I could not be happier. And the trails, oh they were sweet too and in just perfect condition for the race.

First descent after the start...

Early on in the race...

It was cool on the warm up and a lot of riders chose to bundle up in some extra layers but I just decided to enjoy the unusual for us cold air. It was bright, sunny, fresh, just the perfect and beautiful morning and I was ready. I felt like I had some making up to do for a disappointing performance in a way in the last week’s race. Not only to myself but also to those who always root for me and believe in me and make my racing even more meaningful. I was hoping for a great turnout for the Pro/Expert ladies here just like last year but we had our regular set of girls on the starting line. Lots of new riders joined it seemed the Sport and Beginner Women classes. I love when the field is filled with fast ladies, it makes the whole race so much more interesting. But one way or the other I had a big task on my hand.

View from beautiful and challenging Magic Island

Magic Island it's a series of rolling climbs and switchbacks high up on the steep edge...

Dave from Goneriding announced quickly 5 seconds to start, so we didn’t have much time to hang around there for too long and let our minds wonder.

Coming out to the first grassy flat
Just seconds later I'm ready for my pass


We were off and the short stretch on the grass was all we got to get organized to get right away into the sweet single track. Even though I had good start I didn’t manage to get in the position I wanted and ended up going to the first rocky downhill in 4th. It was all good since I was right on the wheel of the 3rd girl at all times and the 2nd was in my plain of view also. So I hung in there through the first fun and technical sections until I got my chance on the first green opening to go by and settle in 3rd. I was feeling good today and really loved the trails, it’s often very difficult to enjoy the riding during the race because of all the suffering that goes on at the same time. But I think I managed actually to do so and had a blast. It didn’t take long for me to catch up to the 2nd girl. When we went by all the narrow tracks of the edge of the water and approached the hills of the Magic Island I was already on her wheel. Since this section is really demanding, narrow and could be dangerous I obviously was going to stay there for a while. Later on the trails were still very narrow also with lots or roots and water to the right. Another very technical section was ahead the Shelly’s Loop which was named after Super-Fast Shelly sitting now in first place somewhere ahead.

After around the 3.5 mile mark in before heading to the Roller Coaster trail I was already scrubbing the tire of the 2nd rider and was more than ready to pass. The trail however here would not allow me for the safe passing without further cooperation which I knew was not going to happen. So I had to hang in there for the next 2.5 miles and wait for my opportunity to finally make the move. The end of the lap was approaching and we cleared all the up on the cliff riding and got spilled onto the grass.

Near the end of the first lap

It was a good time to have my Clif gel

Seemed like we both accelerated, we went around the turn and bike wash and I tried one more time and get to speed to make my pass. It was successful and I was sitting now in the 2nd place while riding through the shoot going into the second lap. Spending that time however on passing meant I was not going to get a chance to reach for the bottle, the single track was right there and the 3rd girl was right on my tail. It was a really dry lap if you ask me and I was already all sweetened up for the Clif gel that I ate just before it. Oh well, no one said that bike racing is a stroll through a field of flowers… :)

I felt good leading now in the trail system and being able to ride in my own pace. I felt smooth today and really full of joy, especially now when it was just me and the path.

On my own in 2nd place
Small drop while on my final lap


I was trying to absorb the moment and ride fast, smart and still enjoy this journey. Everything was falling into place and I was making a good time slowly getting away. The first rider was at least a full couple minutes in front but this didn’t matter at this time as long as I was riding true to myself. I was waiting long time to have a race when everything, all the pieces fell into place and simply create this harmonious entity. The hills for the second time around definitely felt not as good as on the first lap but this was to be expected. I had a good time throughout and went once again thought the shoot into the 3rd lap. I knew by now Shelly was over 2 minutes ahead and that I had a pretty good cushion on the 3rd rider. I was not going to change much and just keep floating through this beautiful course.

Crossing the Finish
And the race is over

Once again I had fabulous time on the track and was able to clear everything without anything unwanted happening. I still felt good and by the pace of some guys passing me and not getting away by that much I assumed I was riding pretty well. What was great during this race was the almost 5 minute buffer placed between Expert ladies and Cat 2 Classes of guys behind. This helped a ton since we didn't have much of congested traffic and instead nicely spread small groups of riders here and there which were easily managed as far as passing goes. Hope we can keep this format for the rest of the series.

Time to celebrate...
And time to reflect...

I ran through my mind section by section that still I had to clear and kept checking them off one by one. The lap went by it seemed in blink of the eye and I arrived at the finish with a nice gap of 3 minutes and also full 3 minutes back to the really fast Shelly who got 1st today once again.

I could not be more grateful for this beautiful and pretty much perfect weekend and perfect race.

Austin from Goneriding and I

All forces collided and turned this day to the race to remember. I loved so much all the encouragement and cheering all around me, this definitely fueled me and assured me that good things were here to come. Like usuall we had some ninjas with cameras throughout the course starting with my husband Pax who always eis my greatest support, to Mickey and Christie. I had enough energy today to make sure I say Hi to everyone during my race, after all they commit their time and effort to be here for us.

Thank you to my Pax and all my amazing support for taking part in this beautiful day!

Big Thanks goes to: Syntace, Magura, Stan’s Notubes, Schwalbe, ESI Grips, Clif, Xpedo, Trainer Road, Garden of Life, Pro Gold Lubricants, Kuat Racks, Light & Motion, KT Tape, Cycleops and New for 2014 - Mack Cycles, Oakley, Pocketfinder, Hawk Racing, Specialized, Louis Garneau, Selle Italia, KMC Chains and Rotor Bike Components!

Until next time!

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