After a long break since the last round of FLE in Alafia, I couldn’t wait to get out and ride some of the coolest trails in the state at Santos. The Hammerhead 100 (or 50 in my case) is a really cool endurance race because unlike other races where you’re lapping a 6-10 mile XC course, each lap at Hammerhead is 25 miles long. This year the laps were even longer time-wise, with some of the sections of gravel roads being replaced with more singletrack. Fortunately we’ve gotten some rain over the last month so the trail was packed pretty good outside of a couple sandy spots.
With a 25 mile lap it’s not really practical to pre ride the day before, so I just went in on race day and figured I’d learn the course as the day went on. It was good to see so many friends out there racing, some for the first time, and some familiar competitors as well. Each lap being 25 miles long I knew I needed to plan for at least 2 hours between pit stops. There are sag stops out on course if you miscalculate your hydration or nutrition, but I knew I could probably get away with 2 bottles of Infinit Nutrition mix per lap.
Being a 50 mile race it’s a bit shorter than some of the other 6 hour endurance races I’ve done, but I knew that meant it would just be more intense from the start. My plan this year was to try and get a great starting position going into the trail from the moto-paced start.
Dave Berger lead us out and once he ramped it up I might have well been in a road race the pace was so fast. Absolutely blazing trying to hold onto the front group I was just pushing as hard as I could to get to the woods in front of the pack, I was gassed but I made it there in the front 15-20 riders.
Getting into the woods the fast guys up front weren’t letting off the gas, so I was pushing to keep up flowing through the pinestraw & leaves aka brown ice. Here’s Joe rippin’ on that stuff and also showing us it’s about having fun too, followed shortly after by me and my always race buddy, Phillip.
You might notice I wasn’t in my usual BikeMinded Kit that day, that’s because I was enjoying the Castelli San Remo SpeedSuit and the 24 watts it was saving me all day. Jonathan (pictured below) with Castelli Custom Florida got these awesome speedsuits together for my Coach Freddy of F2Performance and we’re putting together some for BikeMinded as well. Maybe grab yourself one – they’re pre-order only – and just for actually reading this blog post, use code “heyfriend” for $10 off.
We love seeing the awesome differences in kits and styles out there on the trail. Pauline below is an ambassador for TwinSix, another great brand with loads of style. You can tell she’s happy and feeling good as she finished up lap one here.
It’s always fun seeing who will show up in a BikeMinded kit and it puts such a huge smile on our face that our community is growing and showing up. Here’s Julie of Jules Threads rockin’ our Summer Jersey with her classic black bib shorts that all the ladies love. Her cute polka dot socks happen to match perfectly as well. BONUS!
While Jemma was out getting these great shots of everyone riding, she also found a little time to play with one of her favorite bikey friends, Sarah Zaki, on the landbridge.
Sarah and Jemma are also the reason many racers ended up going the correct way on the course, as there was one spot where it was difficult to effectively determine the correct course. If you heard, “RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT!!” in two girly voices, that was them.
Here are a couple riders course correcting once they got the directions from our volunteer course marshals and cheer squad. Jemma wishes Sarah was always out there as part of the cheer squad – look at these amazing Palm Palms they made to help cheer on us racers!
Who doesn’t want a mid-race hug from Wacki Zaki? It’s so nice having positive support when you’re suffering out on the course for a few hours.
I wish someone was around to cheer for me when I took a spill on the brown ice I mentioned before. I was apparently going a bit too fast, as about a minute in I hit a tree so hard I thought I broke my hand. Scrambling to get up quick, luckily nobody was right behind me and a few racers came around. I quickly joined chase and found myself with my friend Phillip along with a few other friends as we tried to close the gap on those front runners.
Learning the course lap 1 we found some fun technical sections, a few rocks, some sandy off camber spots, and plenty of brown ice. I made a few errors and started to let the guys get away from me, but I was able to bridge back up to the group a few times. The course went into a new section of hiking trails and it was super cool, tight and raw from never being ridden in. I was able to finish up lap 1 with some of the fast guys as we headed into the pits to refuel for a 2nd lap.
In the heat of the moment I dropped 2 empty bottles but only grabbed 1 full bottle as I went back out on course. I quickly realized my error but I was already back out on course. Luckily one of the guys I was with had a spare bottle of water he was looking to get rid of and I gladly accepted (Thanks Mike!). We had a great group of 4-5 really fast guys going into lap 2 and I knew I’d have to give it everything to keep up with them. Early in the lap I put in a little attack to try and break free, and they closed it down as soon as we got into the technical section called Canal Diggins.
I decided to hit a tree again in there (see abused knuckles above) and they pulled past me again. I started to bridge back up right when my bike wouldn’t shift right, a guy behind me advised there was a ton of Spanish Moss in my cassette. I stopped to pull it out, settled down and tried to finish strong on my own. I was closing on a few riders who’d started off too hard and faded late, but not enough to catch the fast group I was with. Those guys finished top 10, and I rolled across the line at 14th overall. I was pretty happy with that considering how the day went, a significant improvement over 45th overall last year. The trail was so fun and getting to ride with a fast group for much of the day even better.
Afterwards we all hung out and talked about how the day went, from the first time racers to the old pros, and the 100 mile racers kept doing laps for a few more hours. One day I’ll do the full 100, but this year 50 was all I wanted. Poor Sean below snapped his derailleur and only got to do one mile, so I’m counting my blessings.
Jemma grabbed a few shots at the race, so be sure to check them out and use them for your latest bike race profile photo! We really hope you enjoy them, check out the full Hammerhead 2018 Endurance Race Gallery and sneak peek below!