We’ve been doing all kinds of racing around the country this year, so when an opportunity came up to go race XC in Gainesville we figured “why not?” San Felasco is one of my favorite trails in the FSC series and it had been far too long since we’d see all of our FSC friends. I took out my Trek Top Fuel from the rack, knocked the Ozark dust off it, put on some fast tires and a 36t chainring and headed to Gainesville. Lots of cute kiddos were shredding this weekend. We’re so pumped to be a part of the Florida Interscholastic Cycling League‘s beginnings, all these sprouts will get to flourish by the time they hit middle and high school! If you want to know more about how you can be involved, check out the site!
Last year I raced this place on a rigid single speed which was a lot of fun, but this year the SS category was much smaller so I had decided to do this one on the geared bike. That meant I was up against a dozen really fast dudes who had been battling it out all season. The XC2 30-39 class is full of some of my friends and training buddies so I knew full well what I was getting into. After the pre-ride on Saturday I really liked the course, lots of climbing and very few places to rest and take a drink. After riding there a couple of months back when it was muddy and wet, it was cool to see the course had dried out (maybe too much) and tough sections like Conquistador were included in the course.
Lining up on Sunday I felt fine, though as the countdown began I realized I kinda forgot how to do a race start on this bike. I ended up mucking up the start worse than I could have imagined and going into the woods at the back of the pack, which became a problem when I got tangled up with another rider and went down in the first section of trail. I knew it’d be a long day so I gathered myself and set off to chase the entire group down as best I could. Strangely I actually dropped my chain off my Narrow Wide chainring (do I need a chain guard?) so I had to stop again just as I was catching the group.
The climbs started adding up and by the end of the first lap I had passed a couple of guys in my class and others. Settling in for lap 2, I was starting to get warmed up and pushed onward. As I mentioned before I put some new race tires on for this race which traded speed for grip, and the loose course conditions made me second guess that. After the race I heard many people had issues with the course so I’m going to keep working with these tires before going back to my trusty Vittoria Mezcals and Barzos.
Lap 3 came around and I was feeling good, the temperature was cool enough and I was picking off riders from other classes regularly. I knew I had another 30 minutes or so to finish strong so I pushed on and put in a lap nearly as fast as my 2nd. Wondering what would have happened if I didn’t give up a minute or two on the first lap definitely crossed my mind as I finished up 8th place, but I felt good about my recovery after the early mishap. Sometimes things don’t go well right out of the gate, but you just gotta keep on going until the finish line regardless. I was a few minutes off the podium but overall it was good to show up and be within range of those seriously fast dudes. I’ve definitely got more work to do before I can get near that podium, but it was a fun day on the bike for sure. I’m not sure when I’ll be back racing XC in the FSC series this fall with lots of Cyclocross on the schedule, but hopefully we’ll see you all out there again soon. I really enjoyed yelling and screaming at the White Wave, if you want more of that, definitely come try a CX race!
Jemma snapped some photos, check them out in the full FSC #4 gallery and sneak peek below!