Jeckyl and Hyde: The New Section and a New Race Layout
This year’s Bump N Grind race at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama, featured a new section called Jeckyl and Hyde.
Simply put, it is an awesome section of trail. Think of a downhill pump track. Lots of rollers and not a lot of climbing. Not a huge number of banked corners, keeping it true to XC, but not many flat corners either and plenty of grip for your tires.Jeckyl starts by splitting away above Blood Rock into some immediate, very technical rocky climbing before starting the descent through several switchbacking sections also loaded with rocks. The rocky sections are similar to the babyhead and rock sections on the Granby course at the 2009 US Nationals, if you’ve ever been on that course.
From there it becomes the smooth and sinewy pump track all the way to the bottom.
The one real challenge? As my coach Tristan Cowie said after the race, “That’s a long section.” You have to be in good physical shape to run Jeckyl and Hyde just because it is so long.
But it’s a perfect ending for the new race layout.
Racing as a cat-2, the race started in the new section around the lake then merged with the traditional Bump N Grind “red” course through the singletrack, up the long and rocky fireroad climb, and started its descent back down by entering at the (normal) Blood Rock entrance. The difference this year was that we took the split to Jeckyl and Hyde instead of taking Blood Rock down.
Blood Rock, Super D and the Expert Race Course
With a smile on my face I say it really and truly sucks to be cat-1 or pro at Bump N Grind.
Those poor souls started the race by climbing Jeckyl and Hyde, dropping down Blood Rock, doing the regular race course and then finishing up with Jeckyl and Hyde like the cat-2s. All I can say is that if Jeckyl and Hyde is a long descent, climbing it had to be misery.
This year Blood Rock was off the cat-2 loop but featured as a stand-alone for the Super D course. The race started at the top gate (where the paved road meets the fire road), and then dropped down Blood Rock, finishing at the paved road crossover.
Blood Rock is perfectly suited for Super D…it’s quick but highly technical XC. As a rider you try and set up for a corner only to notice that the buff, brown corner is actually a buff, brown rock that is going to throw you on your buff, brown butt if you hit it. So you constantly have to make adjustments flying across the scree. It is pure fun.
I raced it as my first ever Super D and finished 7th out of 14 in my age group of all cats. I threw my chain right at the top (backpedaled while shifting) took a few minutes to “lock in” after the distraction of dismounting to fix it, but still cleared the course. Like I said, pure fun.
I ran into several Florida riders I race against in SERC and we were talking about how great the combination of Jeckyl and Hyde along with Blood Rock…and nothing else…would be for something like the national Pro XCT series, usually held at ski resorts. A combination like that would mimic the ski resort courses…difficult, steep climbing from the start merging into a steep and technical downhill.
Not sure if it will happen, but it might bring back our World Cup level pros back to racing in the South.
On Passing and Being Passed
After the lakefront start I entered the regular “red” section of the Bump N Grind course running in 4th or 5th place in the cat-2 40′s. I was passing a lot of people not in my age group (or maybe in my age group…really hard to tell from behind), and I did it by simply yelling out “rider back” in an appropriate spot. The other riders may have moved a over a bit, but it was my job to accelerate through.
Somewhere on this section some yahoo in my own group started the “hey bud let me pass” chatter. So I moved ever so slightly to the side but I didn’t slack off my speed. And this dude wouldn’t pass.
This guy kept up the chatter, and he kept getting angrier. Like I said, I was getting over a bit, but I wasn’t dropping my speed either. Meanwhile, he’s following me as I pass through the other groups, some groups as big as four riders, in the same amount of space I was giving him.
Finally he yells out, “DUDE WHY YOU BLOCKING?” And I yell back “DUDE WHY CAN’T YOU PASS?”
I do not get up at 5 am every day to train and then drive over 500 miles to race, sleep on the ground in a tent and eat cold food, just to slow down so that The Rider Just In From the World in his moth-eaten Pearl Izumi shorts can have an easy pass in a competitive race.
Dude, where were you at the hole shot? Where were you at the dam crossing? Why can’t you pass me like I passed everyone else?
When we hit that long straight section bridging the two sections of singletrack he passed me along with one other rider in my group, dropping me to 6th place. That’s when I noticed he had moth holes in his shorts. Good riddance.
You know something, if I’m not at full throttle or am starting to fade then I get completely out of the way. Or I get out of the way at that inevitable moment during the really short lap races where the pros start coming through.
But when I’m going full throttle and you’re in my group, we call it racin’, and if you are relying on throwing a tantrum to get a better position, better just stay home.
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