“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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“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...

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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...

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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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“The Flood” XC Race at Ducktown, TN

The new "makeshift" start line was at the end of this bridge.

The fourth race in the US Cup East also known as the South East Regional Classic (SERC) Series was held this weekend at Ocoee Whitewater Center near Ducktown, Tennessee.  Having never heard of Ducktown, I didn’t know what to expect.  All I knew was it was a tiny town right across the Tennessee state line. As it turned out, this was possibly the most scenic venue I have ever raced.  The Ocoee Whitewater Center was built specifically for the 1996 Summer Olympics and was the site for the whitewater slalom competition.  The natural Ocoee riverbed was narrowed and many of the large rocks were cemented into place to make the course.  It is clear that no expense was spared. Picture Jurassic Park in the Appalachian mountains, minus the dinosaurs.  Pristine....

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“Race to the River” XC Race

Harry Mathis (2nd) and me (1st) on the podium for the SC Championship.

The fifth race in the Southern Classic Series was held this weekend at Harbison State Park in Columbia, South Carolina. It was the final of three races that comprise the South Carolina State Championship: Sumter (race 1), Spartanburg (race 4), and Columbia.  Because I was leading by 18 points, I decided to race Columbia and skip the US Cup East (SERC) race in Winder, GA.  After all, if I managed to finish no more than three place behind Harry Mathis, I was a lock for the SC Championship. I drove up Saturday afternoon, after a 30-mile club ride where I was determined to keep my heart rate low and for the most part I was successful.  My plan was to pre-ride the course while keeping my heart rate low so I would have legs for the next day’s race.   That’s...

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