Archive for May, 2010

Mountain Bike Racing: SERC 6, Ducktown, Tennessee (Ocoee Whitewater Center, Tanasi Trails) 2010

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Two riders press hard before the final turn at SERC 6, Ducktown 2010

Two riders press hard before the final turn at SERC 6, Ducktown 2010

Review of SERC #6 race in Ducktown, TN, Ocoee Whitewater Center, Tanasi Trails, 2010

Besides being one of the prettiest venues anywhere, Ducktown is the SERC race that closest resembles the old NORBA/NMBS national races, and it’s setup a lot like the current U.S. national championships. Why? Because you go straight up, then you go straight down.

What makes Ducktown better is that nearly the entire race is on singletrack…no extended climbs on fire roads, no descents down ski hills. There is a paved section that bridges the final descent to start/finish, and there is a fast and flowy Jeep road that drops riders onto the final singletrack descent, but that’s it.

It’s that final singletrack descent that Ducktown is famous for: the Thunder Rock Express. It’s steep, rocky in places, and the turns will catch you off guard. You don’t enjoy it much on the first laps, because you know as soon as you hit the bottom you have to climb that damn thing all over again.

For the second year in a row the Yellow Wave had the privledge to do the Thunder Rock descent in a downpour. After a gorgeous blue sky day for a lap and a half, the thunder came booming just as I topped the mountain on the second lap. The rain came down in buckets and I couldn’t see a thing.

The only thing I could make out was the trail (caramel colored), the sides of the trail (darker brown), and I think the green colors rushing past were trees. I got knocked around a lot, hitting the rocks and roots I couldn’t see. And I’m not sure how I got down as fast as I did, or got down at all, but it was good to hit that paved part before the finish.

At the end muscles I didn’t know existed hurt. But the mud and the pain made me smile anyway.

Mountain Bike Racing: The Tire Eater in Huntsville (Monte Sano), SERC 5, 2010

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Racing for Charley

Racing for Charley

Well, the idea was to race at Huntsville this weekend and then hit Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham on the way home to Florida. Oak Mountain is the home to the Bump N Grind and the course is notorious for eating tires, so we brought a tubeless setup along to try out.

Turns out we didn’t need to go to Birmingham after all: Monte Sano in Huntsville was just as much a tire eater as Oak Mountain!

Pulling up in the parking lot for the race Sunday morning we could hear Goneriding’s Dave really stressing the need to bring extra tubes, tire levers, etc. So we switched out the front to tubeless…we were going to get an unplanned, live-fire test. We had to stay tubed in the rear (that could be a terrible pun) because the tire we originally picked had some issues setting up. Not wanting to change cassettes and try to set up a new tubeless wheel right before the race had us going tubed in the back.

So 25 minutes in to the race, in third or fourth place, we jumped a rock, landed on another rock that looked like a maul laid face up, and heard that unforgiving hiss of a tire blowing.

“Please be the front, please be the front!”

Nope, it was the tubed tire in the rear. So we lost our position but we finished the race and did make up a lot of time. And the tube on the rear held because we really took care to watch the lines and let the wheels dance more over the rocks for the rest of the race. Not easy to do on a 9.4 mile course (2 laps) that was essentially 2/3rds rock garden!

Monte Sano was a great venue and we only touched a small portion of the available trails during the race. Would love to come back here again.

On a final note, we were racing for the friend of a friend, Charley, a rider who lost his battle with cancer this past week. We placed his photo on the raceplate so he could have one more fast mountain ride.

See some photos from this year’s SERC race at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville.