It was a day of thrills and spills at the 2014 Piggy's Revenge mountain bike endurance race. On January 12th, the Sarasota County Off Road Riders (SCORR) hosted their 3rd annual adventure ride. Riders were able to choose 20,40 or 60 mile routes through the vast reaches of the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve. This year a combination of online registration and enthusiastic promotion drove the largest ever crowd to this little slice of natural heaven in Venice, Florida.
73 participants of all ages gathered at the starting line and broke off in two separate groups. The first group started with a neutral procession lead out by SCORR President Eric Claussen. After an easy mile to get everyone warmed up, the race began.
Piggy's Revenge is unique for many reasons. Being non-sanctioned means that the normal racing ethic is a bit more relaxed. People come to enjoy an adventure, to challenge themselves, to ride with friends, to visit a new park. On this day they enjoyed the full beauty of the Carlton Reserve. They followed double track trails through miles of pine forest and sped down dirt roads in full view of wildlife and wetlands. Twists and turns through grasslands were followed by the excitement of shredding down SCORR's own newly developed singletrack.
While the weather played in their favor, the pigs did not. One rider summed it up nicely, "I never had anything against pigs until today when I ran into the holes they make. Now I know why it's called Piggy's Revenge." The pigs had been out in full force the night before so riders had to watch out for the occasional trail ruts. These sudden pig holes can send a rider over the bars. Luckily no one reported any injuries.
The 40 and 60 mile racing was fast and furious especially for the first 13 miles. Groups of racers stayed within eye shot of each other on the stretches but flowed single file through the woods. The 20 mile riders set a more reasonable pace, enjoying the sun and scenery while keeping the rubber side down.
As for the victors, the 40 mile honors went to Timothy Reifschneider of Nokomis. Riding a singlespeed Tim started out at a measured pace for the first 5 miles but then conquered the rough stuff like a champion, slowing inching away from the rest of the field. Tim is the rider on the right in the picture above.
The 60 mile race had men's and women's classes. The fastest men were part of a team who traveled from Gainesville, Florida known as Cycle Logic. They started with four guys on the long course but two were having a strong day. In the end 1st place went to Rob Robins and 2nd went to Jayson O'Mahoney. They completed the course in just under five hours. You can see their picture at the top of this article.
The ladies 60 also benefited from a team effort. A duo representing Cycling Concepts had traveled all the way down from Connecticut to take the ladies class. Karen Franzen and Donna Davis shared the title of victor. You can see them in the picture above.
Personal Note: It was my first time taking part in this event by entering the 40 mile race. Despite having competed in cross country mountain bike races in the past, I had never before completed anything longer than 27 miles. After a couple weeks of training, including visiting the park and practicing parts of the course, I felt ready.
I started out slowly with the tactic of always staying in the right gear for a given type of terrain. I never pushed harder than what was needed because my strength had to last. It was also important to maintain expectations, in a race this long it never goes perfectly. I paced behind some more experienced riders to stay steady but my chain fell off on the singletrack. I lost a granola bar while trying to eat on the bike, I lost the arrows for a good five minutes before reorienting myself and almost ran over a snake. Despite all the pain and stumbling I finished in 4 hours even, a full hour faster than I anticipated. It was an amazing journey. - Alex H
Praise for Piggy's Revenge!
"One of the best rides we've ever attended! Trails well marked and very diverse. The food was outstanding! We'll definitely be back next year! Thank you!" - Heidi Nelson
"Had a great time today with Scorr Rider at Piggy's Revenge . Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make this event happen." - Dana Neri
"Thanks for a great ride today. Great to have single track in SRQ!" - Sue Lee
"What a beautiful day and one of the nicest 40 mile rides I have completed. All of you that worked hard to put on this event should feel good. It was appreciated! Look forward to next year." - Mike Vanderkord
On every level the event was a complete success. Volunteers were staged throughout the race to make sure the riders stayed on track at critical junctions. Finishers were greeted with cheers from the crowd at the pavilion and then treated to hot, homemade sausage with tables of food and coolers full of cold drinks. Every participant who pre-registered received a Piggy's Revenge t-shirt to signify their accomplishment.
My lovely wife Terri B was on hand taking photos which are all available on Facebook:
To learn more about SCORR or see pictures from the event visit them on Facebook: