Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mountain Bike Demo at the Carlton Reserve

The Jamis bicycle company will be coming to the T Mabry Carlton jr Reserve for a Demo Day on Saturday February 9th. This will take place from 8am to 1pm. This event is FREE to attend. Jamis Factory Reps will be on hand to answer your questions.

Jamis mountain bike builds include both full suspension and hardtail options. Their bikes range from fun sport models to serious cross country racing machines. Armed with a wide array of mountain bikes sporting 29", 650b and 26 inch tires, you will get to try them all. Take a look at their website to get an idea which bikes you might be interested in riding.

The T Mabry Carlton Reserve is the home of some fun trails. It is also the home of the Sarasota County Off Road Riders (SCORR) mountain bike group. Many of these members will be on hand testing bikes themselves. Be sure to check out this event on its Facebook page:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Finding Comfort on your Racing Bike

Parts of the hour and a half drive to Cape Coral BMX were quieter than usual as a cyclone of questions circled relentlessly around in my head. I hadn't raced BMX since August. That was five months of concentrating on other sports, other types of racing and training. During that time I had also changed my bike and my attitude.

Why did I have questions? Let me recap my 2012 season really quick and it will become obvious. I started the year with a new frame provided by my Advertising partners CycleCraft BMX. The former Peddler's Bike Shop made a deal with me on a new Supercross fork and some other parts. In essence it was a completely new bike. We're talking laid back geometry with swift handling but something didn't fit right.

For whatever reasons I couldn't get used to my new bike. In race after race I was fumbling and awkward. I was afraid to take chances at the Naples Qualifier and I hurt my back trying to manual the night before the Sarasota Qualifier. I kept trying to overcome the problem but it continued to get worse. I took last place at the Florida Cup Championships and then didn't even make the main at the All Star Race in Orlando. My stubbornness persisted until finally I had to admit my discomfort was causing me to hesitate and thus lose. 

During the autumn season I swapped my 20 inch CycleCraft for a more forgiving Formula Cruiser and decided to try things a different way. Instead of practicing on the clay, I rode it around my neighborhood. Two to three days a week I put 4 to 6 miles on the bike. I rode it on the trails, ripped around the local walkways and generally had fun with it. This became a part of my training right alongside swimming, running and mountain biking. This brings us up to date - my first race on the Cruiser.

Terri and I went to Cape Coral BMX figuring that the two of us would only need one other Cruiser to make a class. Luckily Rumsey Rammuny signed up with his slick looking, blood red Intense. The three of us hung out the entire night. Rumsey is a long time Expert and was too fast for us so it was easy to guess the outcome. The real challenge that night was facing an advanced track on a bike I have never raced. The first couple of motos felt fine. No surprises as Rumsey took the lead with myself being about four lengths behind him and Terri taking the third spot.

That night Terri and I had been talking about whether we wanted to spend the money to complete the full Florida Cup series. We knew we could report on the races without competing but we didn't want to let our teams down. Tonight was meant to persuade us one way or the other.

Now it was time for the main event. We were the first moto but as I sat on the gate waiting for the introductions to end, I felt no nervousness, no hesitation. As the starting timer beeped I thrust my Cruiser forward and started chasing Rumsey. I remembered that he confessed to getting tired by the third straight so I wanted to stay as close as possible for when his legs burnt out.

I pedaled fast and easy, my cross training has put me in fantastic shape. Rumsey could handle the track but I could out pedal him on the straights and corners. When we reached the last turn I dropped my weight into the wheels and started gaining. As he was catching his breath I was fearlessly flying up on his left. With only feet to go I pulled up next to him and stretched out the bike missing the win by less than a foot.

I was thrilled with the close finish. That deep desire to compete had been reignited in one moment of passionate attack. The truth is that I would compete at everything if I had the money. I love competition especially on two wheels. As for our season? We will be making those decisions one race at a time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 2013 Resolution Run 5K

We do it every year. We resolve to make our lives a little better, a little happier, a little healthier. How fitting is it that the South County Family YMCA decided to name a race after such a transformative intention. Starting off the New Year with a 5K run is a declaration of all three desires and yet it is also so much more.

The sun was nowhere to be seen on the morning of January 5th as riders gathered under the pavilion shuffling to stay warm. It was only 55 degrees but the ocean breeze was edging 15mph. The runners engaged in small talk, did dynamic stretching and took laps around the pond at Maxine Barrett Park until the watch struck 7:15am. That's when the gathering began.

Two hundred and forty athletes both recreational and serious filled the street as the police desperately tried to redirect traffic. The start line was marked by a wildly waving sign from a sponsor Real Bikes of Venice. The wind spitefully picked up a little as someone in the crowd playfully instigated false starts that no one fell for. A few minutes past 7:30 the fun began.

Most big races begin with a decent mass start where the elites take off and others filter to the back. The Resolution Run was the fastest start I have ever been a part of. I tried to pace several runners who moved away at an amazing rate. Finally I latched onto one guy with a white shirt and white hair who kept checking his watch. I stayed within five feet of him all the way to the one mile marker where we crossed the line at 7:46. It was already a personal best for me but I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up.

Shortly after the one mile marker we started to see the leaders who had already made the turn around at Caspersen Beach and now whipped past us heading back. It is always awesome to watch the elites, John Wood (17:45), Ricardo Lomas (18:17) and Heather Butcher (18:24) took the top three overall spots.

I like turn arounds in races, don't ask me why. Maybe it's because you get to see where you are in the larger scheme of the race or maybe it is something more personal. I saw a father high five his wife and kid as he was heading back and they were still moving forward. I saw a lady on hand powered bike pedaling with weary arms. I saw parent's urging their kids to keep going for, "Just a little longer."

The final loop around the pond would have been the most fun if I wasn't suffering so much. A few guys that looked my age passed me with only a short distance to go. The fast start had finally caught up with me as I started to fade. Giving it every last ounce of energy allowed me to stay true to my rhythm and cross the line with a new personal best - 25:52. Awards were going 5 deep but even so when my name was called for fifth place I was elated.

As with all of these, the race was also a social event. I got the opportunity to meet some of my fellow Zoomers as well as other runners some visiting from as far away as Illinois. My Resolution this year involves waking up early to train nearly every day. I actually started doing that around Christmas but so far, so good. The Resolution Run was an encouraging start to what could be an Epic New Year.

For you photophiles out there, I brought the camera along but with the dark skies and a shady pavilion I only took about 30 shots. They are posted on Facebook so feel free to tag away.

Resolution Run 5K Photos

Crossing the line at 25:52