Archive for June, 2010

Mountain Bike Racing: Bump N Grind 2010, Oak Mtn. State Park

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Riders at the Turn N Burn Mountain Bike Race at Bump N Grind 2010

Riders at the Turn N Burn Mountain Bike Race at Bump N Grind 2010

Bump N Grind may be the best overall mountain bike race in the Southeast, if not one of the best in the country, and the course is one of the best anywhere.

If you’re a climber you’ve got a chance, if you’re a descender you’ve got a chance, if you’re a generalist you’ve got a chance…there’s something for everyone.

The course starts on winding up-and-down singletrack, leads to a long, 2-mile (?) climb on a sketchy jeep road, then drops down the mountain on ultra-fast and technical singletrack, highlighted by a section called “Blood Rock.”

Then more singletrack for the last 5-odd miles to the end.

This year Bump N Grind added a short track race on Saturday called the “Turn N Burn.” The “Turn” was a surprise 360 the riders had to do on their bikes before hitting the trail, the “Burn” the pain of climbing a nasty hill midway through the 1.6 mile course.

Bump N Grind was great again this year. The volunteers were top notch, the organization was top notch, and the course (except for the last three miles) was top notch.

Three miles of new trail were added to the end of the race this year…but this three mile section was not ready for prime time yet. It was new and raw, muddy (it was in the bottoms) with flat turns and included 5 or so log hucks…about 5 more than on the rest of the course. Log hucks are what you see on some county park’s .8 mile mountain bike “trail,” not at the end of a national level race. Ditch the hucks or go back to the original finish I say. Better yet, put this section at the front to shake out the pack.

Otherwise, a great race that only gets better year after year.

This year we ended up overtraining for the event. A fifth place start turned into a ninth place holding action that stumbled into a 13th place finish. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Eating on the Mountain Bike Trail.

Last year our journey to Oak Mountain took us to Milo’s Hamburgers in nearby Birmingham, which we pronounced the “Worst Burger in America, and the Worst Fries, Too.”

This year we tried out two more burger joints, Jack’s and Hamburger Heaven, with varying results.

We actually tried the hot dogs at Jack’s, which were passable and you know, just not that memorable. Run of the mill fast-food hot dogs. The fries, however, were nasty and on the same level as Milo’s, covered in a hunter-orange fluorescent seasoned salt coating that made them unfit for human consumption, in my opinion.

At Hamburger Heaven at least they didn’t kill the fries…no seasoned salt here, but the fries were rubbery and otherwise uninteresting. The hamburger, while not bad like Milo’s, had many of the same poor qualities, as if it were a distant cousin of the food served by the Roach Coaches that trolled the factory parking lots at lunch break in my formative days. When I actually got a bite of the burger by itself, without the mystery condiments they put on it wasn’t half bad. And the chocolate shake was decent but not memorable. But an actual hamburger heaven the place ain’t.