May 28th was the last race of the FLE season at the notorious Haile’s Trails in Gainesville. Despite living in Gainesville for over 10 years, I had never had the opportunity to ride these trails as they are located on private land and closed all year except for 2 race weekends a year. Right next to the legendary Gatorback Cycle Park where the motos were brapping all weekend long, you could tell these mountain bike trails were created with motorcycles in mind. Big ramps up on the edge of limestone cliffs, loose and rooty single track and rocky o-f camber sections are probably pretty challenging with 250cc between your legs, but they can be absolutely brutal with only your legs powering you through the trails. On the course preview ride Saturday I stopped to take in some of the views as I knew on race day it wasn’t going to be a sight seeing tour.
The Gone Riding crew put together a tamed-down version of the course for the 6 hour race, a challenging 5.5 mile circuit with plenty of climbing and technical sections that really set the stage for the grand finale of the Endurance series. Doing some quick math, I knew I was in for 10-12 laps for the day and setup my hydration and food stops accordingly. Dave Berger of Gone Riding led the racers out on his trusty Honda CT110 (which at this point I’m thinking the elite guys like Bob McCarty and Sam Joeckel could outrun on their bicycles) and we went into the single track at a rapid pace. Pushing the pace early on the single track I was able to settle into a good flow as the early climbs was a bit of a selection for those who could ride it versus those who had to walk up.
I sat somewhere near the top 10 and was feeling pretty good, opting use a Camelback hydration pack so that I didn’t have to pit stop for the first 5 laps. With a relatively short course you got to see most of the riders, either lapping or being lapped over the course of the race. It was neat to see how the elite riders were flowing through the trails and try to stay on their wheel as long as possible to pick up some lines and tips.
Feeling really good after the halfway point of the 6 hour race, I was on lap 7 when suddenly I hit the deck on a loose off camber section. I stopped and did a check of myself and the bike and noticed my front tire was nearly flat. I finished the lap and limped it back to the pit area to put some more in as it was down to 5psi. At 25psi it seemed to be holding well, so I ditched the camelback and switched to bottles to get back on the trail. Two laps later and I was on the ground again; tire going flat again.
I then remembered a month ago when I topped off the Orange Seal tubeless fluid in my rear tire, for whatever reason I didn’t put any more in the front. It was bone dry in there after a season of racing, so the only remedy would involve putting a tube in there while on the trail or getting back to the pit area and injecting some Orange Seal in there. Opting for the latter, I again limped back into the pits and assessed the situation.
At 5 hours into a 6 hour race, I knew I was sitting somewhere in the top 10 for overall but not close enough for an overall podium, but I probably had enough points for the FLE series on the day so the decision was made. Instead of starting an involved repair procedure for the tire, I pulled up a chair and started to cool down from the temps in the upper 90’s.
I had done enough on the day to get the Cat3 win for the FLE Series which was really cool. It’s been a great season of meeting awesome people, discovering great new trails, learning how to race and getting smarter & stronger on the bike. I’m excited to pick it back up in the fall with the Florida State Championship series with Gone Riding and keep having fun with all my friends, old and new.
Here’s a sneak peek of the photos Jemma took, see all of the 6 hours of Haile’s Trails photos here, there’s a LOT!
Please enjoy these photos and don’t forget to check out the rest of the ones from the 2017 Florida Endurance Series Mountain Bike Races. You are welcome to download and use these photos personally! 🙂 We’d sure appreciate leaving our logo intact and a link to our BikeMinded Blog, our BikeMinded facebook page, or our BikeMinded Instagram if you post them! We’re all about growing our community!