2013 NCCX Series, Week 3

The cross-mountain bike handled awesome but the motor definitely needed an overhaul!

The Boone-town Throw-down was race #4 of the North Carolina Cyclocross (NCCX) Series.  The venue was the same as the last two years: the High County Fairgrounds in Boone, North Carolina.  It’s an awesome venue that has it all, from run-ups, to gravel roads, to grassy fields, to slick off-camber turns, to steep climbs, and even some man-made obstacles. In short is a fun and challenging course, slightly longer than the previous courses at 1.85 miles per lap.  Most racers had to dismount four times and even the best pros dismounted at least 2 or 3 times each lap.  Put on by Boone Bike and Touring, a local bike shop, this race always captures the true spirit of cyclocross. Every year it’s a party complete with loud music, free beer, free pizza, free...

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2013 NCCX Series, Week 1

Find the evidence of my early crashes and note my right foot not clipped in.

The North Carolina Cyclocross (NCCX) Series started off with a vengeance with two of the toughest courses back to back on the same weekend.  Saturday kicked off the season in Charlotte’s Veterans Park and Sunday we raced in Lions Park in the heart of Raleigh. Race #1 – Saturday October 19, 2013 – Charlotte, NC This was my third time racing at Charlotte and each time the course gets harder.  Last year I crashed on the approach to the runup and cracked a rib.  This year I was injury free, although I did go down on the first two of six laps, both times in the same steeply off-camber turn. Although I’d ridden it cleanly in practice, the course had changed during the first few races and by the time it was our turn it was very sketchy....

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“SERC #10” Season Finale at Fontana Dam, NC

Jim Frith - 1st, Tom Willis - 2nd, Mark Gilliam - 3rd, and Troy Zimmerman - 4th.

Fontana Village Resort in Fontana, NC hosted the final race of the US Cup East / South East Regional Cup (SERC) series.  Besides being race #10 of the SERC series, it was also the American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) race #10 and the Southern Classic series race #12. As if the convergence of three series was not enough, it was a “mandatory” race for the SERC series.  In other words, if you wanted to compete for ranking in the series, you had to race at Fontana.  Needless to say, that brought out a big crowd.  For many of the classes, mine included, the leaders were within a point or two of each other, so everyone brought their “A-game”. A little interesting background on the venue — Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Little...

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“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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“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 season...

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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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