I’ve heard for years that Santos is the best place for Mountain Biking in the state of Florida. While the 6 Hours of Santos gave me a taste of that in the Vortex, the Hammerhead 100 (or 50 in my case) is comprised of 25 mile laps of sweet flowing singletrack across the Landbridge in Ocala.
I was looking forward to riding a new set of trails so my plan was to learn the trail lap 1, then settle in lap 2 and push a little. The fast pace early proved too much for a guy who was a few riders in front of me, hitting the deck in the loose pine straw & oak leaves about 200 yards into the first section of single track. That caused a bit of a bottle neck so the rest of the lap trying to make up for the mistakes of others. I ended up going a bit too fast, so once my riding partner Freddy caught up to me at Nayls past the 49th Avenue Trailhead, I had burned a few too many matches. I hung with him as long as I could, but he had more experience with that trail and legs to match so I had to let him ride away.
Settling in for a long day, I found my happy pace and started flowing through the single track. It may have been full of leaves (aka brown ice) and sand, but my rides at Jonathan Dickinson prepared me well for loose conditions. It was just like home: hot, sandy and loose. I finished the first lap with a few guys who had a similar pace, right under my 2hr goal at 1:52.
Stopping to get a bottle for lap 2, I pushed the first section of singletrack to make up a little time. One little slip and I was drifting sideways through a turn, putting a foot down to save it but in the process my legs tensed up and cramped. I had to dial back the pace a bit and start drinking extra fluids to help get rid of the cramps. Making some new friends along the way, we all suffered together until I stopped to top off my water as I’d somehow run out. My new friend Frank wasn’t even halfway done as he was doing the 100, so I got in front on the last fire road to give him a little pull since my day was nearly done. Clipping along at a good pace, I pulled as long and hard as I could before pulling off. To my surprise, we’d picked up several more riders who liked the “free ride” sitting on our wheel. With a little single track and some fire road to the finish, I pushed hard the last mile to reel in the only rider in sight and passed him with 100 yards to spare. I don’t think he was in my class or affected in any way, but it was just a little motivation at the end.
Overall I felt good all day, stuck to the plan as best I could and adapted to the conditions of the day. Good enough for 23 out of 46 of the men racing 50 miles solo. Finished in 3:54 which was about my goal, and should be good enough to keep the points lead in Cat3 for the Florida Endurance Series. Those trails are super fun, we’ll definitely be making a trip or two back there to explore and see what else we missed out there. Jemma only got to ride a tiny amount to travel around taking these photos for everyone and wants to go back and check it out too – peaceful rides through the woods are her favorite.
See the full gallery here (over 800 images, phew!).
Here’s a taste of the pics! If you don’t see yourself here but you saw Jemma with a camera stuck to her face, you’re probably in the main gallery.
Didn’t see yourself, but you saw this chick with a camera on her face? Check out the full gallery here. Jemma took over 1100 photos and after ditching all the blurry ones (except for a few that were just COOL looking, ha!) we ended up with over 800 for y’all! Woot!