“SERC #9” XC Race at Ft. Payne, AL

SERC 9 - 3 480

The South East Regional Cup (SERC) Series #9, the American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) #9, and the Alabama Mountain Bike Series #6, all came together this weekend at DeSoto State Park in Ft. Payne, Alabama.  Since 1982 Ft. Payne has been famous as being the home of the “June Jam” festival hosted by the country-rock band Alabama. The park downtown has bronze statues of the band members that are larger-than-life size. The Ft. Payne race course is typically 10 miles in length but was shortened to a 6.5 mile lap this year due to the excessive rain and flooding.  The Grand Masters 1 (Cat 1 50+) raced three laps so we did 19.5 miles total, making it one of the shorter races in terms of mileage.  The reason they cut the mileage short, however, is that the...

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“SERC #8” XC Race at Woolwine, VA

Riders meeting is about to start..

The Southern Classic Series, the Virginia Off Road Series, and the South East Regional Cup (SERC) schedules all intersected this weekend at I.C. Dehart Park in Woolwine, Virginia.  For those unfamiliar with Woolwine, it is located about 15 miles across the North Carolina border due north of Winston-Salem.  Google Maps says it is a three hour and thirty-nine minute drive, but given the back roads and bad directions, it was more like four hours. The race course was 8.5 miles in length and was a figure eight course with the first section being 3.5 miles of some of the steepest, “gut-busting-est” climbs you’ll ever ride looping back and overlapping the same trail with a  very cool “fly-over” bridge that leads you into the second and larger 5.0 mile...

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“Tiger Rag” XC Race at Clemson, SC

Wow!  I guess there was some level ground after all!

On June 23, 2013, race 9 of the Southern Classic Series intersected the US Cup East / South Eastern Regional Championship  Series (SERC) #7 at Clemson South Carolina.  Now throw in a Georgia State Cup make up race and you have lots of the best riders throughout the southeast showing up ready to compete.  Essentially, anyone who is still in the points race for any of those three series was likely to be in attendance. Now about the course:  Last year I raced it as a Cat 3 (or beginner) rider, so I did one lap.  Since that time, USA Cycling, in their infinite wisdom has decided that I needed to be upgraded — not once, but twice — to Cat 1.  After all, I have been riding a bicycle for a whopping two years and am only halfway through my second...

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“Hobby Park” XC Race at Winston-Salem, NC

Matt Podium Hobby Park 480

The Southern Classic Series cross country mountain bike race in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is held in a venue named Hobby Park.  The park likely got its name because if you have a hobby, this is your park.  It has a runway for radio controlled airplanes, two tracks for radio controlled cars, a long paved hill for soap box derby racing, nice trails for running and or hiking, and last, but not least, it has a great mountain bike trail. The race course is 6.7 miles in length beginning and ending at the model airplane runway and is thickly wooded with a mix of pine and deciduous trees, as well as all manner of vegetation.  The trail surface itself is for the most part hard-packed, dark, loamy soil that is riddled with tree roots — probably one of the more...

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“Uwharrie XC Festival” Race at Troy, NC

Randy Shields (left) leading the way. I'm still in 3rd place prior to my mechanical.

The first Sunday in June was the Southern Classic Series race # 7 held in the Uwharrie National Forest near Troy, North Carolina.  The Uwharrie National Forest is a federally designated national forest located in the Uwharrie Mountains with a total area of over 50,000 acres.  The thick canopy of pine and oak make for a lot of shade but also hold in the humidity and stop any breezes, making for a steamy race. The Uwharrie trails are some of my favorite trails anywhere and have a great mix of technical elements, climbing, and long stretches of rutted jeep trails where you are either grinding up slow, steady climbs or bombing down long gradual descents.  The trail surfaces range from hard packed dirt, to loose gravel, to a couple of sections that are just slabs of...

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“Bump and Grind” XC Race at Jackson, GA

Mark Perri (50) left, Mark Gilliam (51) middle, and yours truly (58) right.

This week’s race was the 2013 US Cup East / South Eastern Regional Championship series (SERC) race #6, the  American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) race #6, and the  Georgia State Championship series race #4.  The intersection of these three races, coupled with double USA Cycling ranking points made for a very well attended event with many top competitors bringing their “A-game”. I dubbed this race the “bump and grind” because the course was probably the bumpiest course I’ve ever ridden.  There were lots of roots and rocks sufficient to kill any momentum you developed and forcing you to grind along the trail under power most of the time.  In other words, there was not a lot of opportunity to rest. Just how bumpy was it?  Riding this course was...

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“NC State Championship” XC Race at Charlotte, NC

NC State Championship 2013

The sixth race in the Southern Classic Series was held this weekend at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Not only was it race six of fourteen in the series, but it was also the North Carolina Championship race — a one race championship.  In other words, this one race was for all the marbles and the winner would be crowned the North Carolina cross country mountain bike champion for 2013. Two weeks ago I raced at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, site of the 1996 Summer Olympics whitewater slalom competition.  This race was at the official training site for the US whitewater Olympic team.  Must be some connection between whitewater and mountain bikes.  Hmm.  I digress. Like many of the trails in the mountains of North Carolina,...

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