This last weekend I made it out to Lithia, Florida for a set of trails I’d heard so many awesome things about: Alafia. Having ridden Carter Road up the road in Lakeland at the 2017 6 hours of El Lagarto earlier in the year, I had an idea of what kind of trails I’d be seeing. Alafia has some great flowing single track through the woods that you can just rip through, with some really tough options in there like Rollercoaster that the race directors included for those racing the “Red” Trail 6 hour option. When they handed me my race number I knew it was going to be an interesting day.
Having never ridden Alafia I just decided to take what the day gave to me and not try to press early. After a motopace start I was somewhere in the front half of the racers going into the trails where I was able to stay until we got to Rollercoaster. Wow, that section is well named: up and down, left and right and you’re just hanging on before you have to power up the next hill. I made a little mistake there lap 1 going in blind and had a few of the fast guys zoom past me. The race lap for the Red trails was 7 miles or so, with the easier Blue loop being 6 miles for those that just wanted to go out and blast without all the sketchy technical sections.
Once I settled in I found some friends old and new and we had a good pace cruising along for the first 4 laps. After I decided to not pit with my new friends on lap 4, I ditched my Camelbak lap 4 in favor of a bottle and pushed through lap 5 solo. Riding with others at a new trail definitely helps me keep calm, maintain a good pace, and helps the time fly by. Riding by myself on laps 5, 6, and 7 I started to feel the fatigue set in. I was holding a good pace still, but starting to get sloppy and make small mistakes which could result in big pain if I wasn’t careful.
After lap 7 I asked Jemma to do the math to see how many laps I could get in before the 6 hour cut off. Unfortunately, her answer was higher than the number of laps my body was telling me it could do. I managed to roll another lap for 8 total in a little over 5 hours, and decided to call it a day even though I had enough time to complete another lap. After I sat down and opened up the cooler my body was letting me know that was a great decision. I watched the guys and girls I had been running from all day zoom by and crush another lap, but I don’t think anybody else in my class for the FLE series was in that group so I may have lucked out there by throwing in the towel early. The results weren’t final between the Blue and Red course, but I did no worse than 6th for Men’s Open on the Red course which was my best finish yet.
Afterwards we hung out at the BikeMinded tent and shared race stories about fun trails, huge snakes, endo crashes, and that random guy laying down in the middle of the trail (was he ok!?!?). Even though I didn’t have the most ideal race, I had fun riding my bike and that’s pretty tough to beat, right? Plus, when it benefits an awesome organization like the Friends of Alafia, the good feels multiply! Thanks to Gone Riding for another great race!
Here are a few photos, but go here for the full gallery of Alafia Classic 2017 photos.
Love these pics? You’ll love the rest, but I’m warning you, there’s a lot!! Jemma tried to get pics of everyone, so crossing our fingers you’ll find a nice photo of yourself in there somewhere!