Archive for April, 2011

The Spartanburg Penalty Lap: Stump Jump (SERC / US Cup East #3) 2011

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

by Sean Hess (

Stump Jump rider 351 hammers for the finish.

Stump Jump rider 351 hammers for the finish.

What happens when you combine “taco a wheel” and “15 minutes before your last race?”

You get an unhappy rider who has to make up a race.

So here I was in Spartanburg at the Stump Jump, a race I hadn’t planned on running. A 6 hour, 30 minute drive from home, a long penalty lap for breaking my wheel before the Tsali race and not bringing a replacement.

I raced the Stump Jump back in 2008 when it was a 3-lap race at 9.3 miles each…it nearly killed me neophyte racer that I was. This year was a much more sedate 7.5 miles with some of the nastier stuff I remember not there.

It was a startlingly fast course. After an uphill start and fast downhill the course settled into rooty, ribbony singletrack along a river bottom. Some short steep climbs were peppered in just for suspense. A gradual, sinewy uphill in the final quarter lap led to a short downhill dash to the finish.

It was a truly excellent layout. And riders got a free t-shirt. Who knew? Congrats to Goneriding for another great production. See a video of the White Wave start after the restaurant review below. Visit the Strackacobra Flickr Stream to see Yellow Wave Photos.

Eats in Spartanburg.

Looking for lots of carbs and little fat I headed over to the recommended Monsoon Noodle House on Main Street, downtown. Unfortunately it looked like the Monsoon had its windows shot out the night before. Criss-crossed in police tape, it wasn’t open for business.

So a few blocks down I found wonderful smells coming out of a place called Lime Leaf Thai. The food was fast and the service was friendly. The Emerald Shrimp…basically gigantic shrimp with fresh vegetables, white rice and sweet-and-sour sauce…set me back $16 but it was worth it. Would definitely try it again.

It’s All Right to Cry: 2011 SERC / US Cup East #2 at Tsali

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

by Sean Hess (

Riders at the SERC 2011 race at Tsali, Bryson City, NC

Riders at Tsali 2011

Training in Florida I don’t get to see all the fun downhills that my mountain bike racing brethren (and sistthren) in North Carolina get to see on a daily basis. So as part of my warm up for this year’s SERC race at Tsali I figured I’d get some downhill practice before the race.

So I climbed the Jeep road up above the race entrance to the singletrack and commenced a bombing run on the downhill. And in my enthusiasm I took a corner too hot, grabbed too much brake too late, and endo’d into the mud and gravel of Tsali.

No problem…except, oh no…I tacoed my front wheel! How do you taco your wheel on an endo?

This is 15 minutes before the race starts. Somehow I ride the bike and goofy wheel down to the lower parking lot, pull out my Zinn book and try to figure out how to true a wheel, fast. Maybe I could borrow a wheel, but at 15 minutes to post there ain’t no one down there but me and some girl walking her dog.

Well the spokes spin without tightening and after a few tries I realize I am well and truly f*cked. I have just driven 500 plus miles to DNS. Not DNF mind you, DNS: Did Not Start.

So I undressed, noticed the four pounds of dirt caked in my helmet vents, then sulked around packing up and loading the bike. To my credit I really did a number on the wheel, I not only bent the rim I actually bent the channel on the rim. There was even gravel that forced its way between the tire and the rimwall. What can I say, I have talent.

Since I did not get to race I took photos and video of the Yellow Wave. You can see the video on Strackacobra’s YouTube Channel, and the photos on the Strackacobra photostream at flickr.

So, I drive all the way back to Florida.

The previous week my 4-year old daughter has been listening to “Free to Be You and Me” from the fabulous 1970s, over and over again. On it former NFL great Rosie Greer sings “It’s All Right To Cry.”

“It’s all right to cry, crying gets the sad out of you…”

So I crawl in bed with my daughter who is still awake (because I’m home early from a race for once), crank up Rosie Greer, and we listen together, getting the sad out of us.

SERC #1: Haile’s Trails 2011

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

by Sean Hess (

The Wretched Ones at Hailes Trails

The Wretched Ones at Hailes Trails

You know you’re racing right when you’re half way through the race and you’ve resolved to quit the sport.
Your lungs are on fire, your throat is caked with dust and your legs are screaming in pain.

“Why am I doing this?” you think to yourself. “This is supposed to be fun?”

But the pain passes and you realize that when you’re going so hard it hurts you’re doing it right.

Haile’s Trails is a course that can dish out the pain. It’s a fast course with lots of short steep climbs with lots of short, sinister descents. And roots. And lots and lots of hairpin corners, mostly flat, that take patience and moxy to rail. It’s a course where you pedal constantly and there’s no time to rest.

The usually ultra hot weather at Hailes stayed away this year: that was the one break riders got. Still, it was a tough race. As I was drying down after I thought the Les Miserables (“the Wretched Ones”) towel was an apropos comment.

Congrats to Goneriding for putting on another great race. See the start of the white wave in the video below.

To see race photos of the white wave go to the Strackacobra Flickr page.