Wahoooooo, race time again!
This past weekend was the second race of the SERC (Southeast Regional Championship) series held in Conyers, GA. To those unfamiliar with the venue, it was held at the International Horse Park and was also the site of the 1996 Mountain Bike Olympic Games. Though the course has undergone quite a few changes over the years there are some sections that remain the same.
Years past the course included the “otherside” of the race course which is almost entirely comprised of granite. But now, we rarely race on that side due to logistics the high cost of road crossings and having several police officers to man them. That side is really a love hate relationship with most racers b/c it is so unforgiving, but if you can master the rocks you’ll love it. I love it! But sadly, we didn’t get to race any of it this year.
This year, similar to that last couple, was held on the wooded side (no granite) with a lot of tight, twisty singletrack that winds its way around through the woods and over a few wooden bridges. There are a few punchy climbs but non long enough to really break up the leaders. The three of us would ultimately stick it out all the way to the end.
The tight singletrack was fun to ride b/c it flows so well and my D29 tracked perfectly, but it’s hard to get away from anyone there. Other than the occasional crash, from taking a turn too fast, there are little obstacles or opportunities to get away. It’s almost like this section has a speed limit to it. There are only a couple of little climbs too that give riders the chance to drop the hammer and turn the screws to the other riders.
The race course can be basically broken up into three sections; tight, twisty woods, few punchy climbs, and long field section. It was here in the field section that the real race would unfold. Myself and two other riders stuck together the whole time. We took turns setting the pace at the front, but ultimately couldn’t get rid of one another. On the final lap I was sitting in second place and thought I might wait and make my move on one of the last climbs but decided I’d probably catch lapped traffic in the last little bit of woods and loose any lead I might get on the climb. So I decided to sit still and wait for the field where I knew traffic wouldn’t be an issue and passing would be easy.
When we rounded the field there was a short straight away before a deep ditch (half pipe like) that we had to drop into before the final stretch to the finish chute. I decided to make my move here before the ditch. Ironically enough I thought I might loose it here when I rounded 040the turn to take the drop and came up on a couple of other riders hesitating before this section. I unclipped, skidded sideways and took the drop. The only thing that saved me was, I had enough momentum to carry me up the other side of the ditch where I could clip back in and begin my final sprint.
It definitely made for an exciting finish and I was happy to cross the line first despite the mishap with lapped traffic. So far this has been a really great season and almost every race has been a different type; Stage racing one moment, to endurance/gravel grinder the next, and finally the last was traditional XC style. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and looking forward to more of it!
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