Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Florida State Championship Mountain Bike Series, Hanna Park, Jacksonville

Wednesday October 10, 2007
This past weekend I took a trip down to Jacksonville, Florida for the 3rd race of the Florida State Championship Mountain Bike Series. Gone Riding put on great event at Hanna Park.

CampI got to my camp site at Huguenot Park about 4:00 pm on Friday. It was steady raining so I went looking for the nearest Wal-Mart. I ended up at a

Food Lion off HWY 105 in the bad part of town buying a loaf of Merrita Bread, Mayonnaise, and a pack of Pickle Loaf sandwich meat (I was on a serious budget). I also had to stock up on Chocolate milk for in the

mornin. By the time I made it back to camp the rain had slowed enough for me to set up my tent. This was primitive camping (site w/no water or electric). The wind was blowing hard so I put extra tent steaks in each corner of the tent. I unloaded all my gear from the van into the tent. I had taken out all of the seats in the back of the van before leaving home. Knowing that the weather wasn't going to get any better I set up shop in the back of the van. I'm glad I did cause it rained hard and the wind howled all night. It was very comfy and I had plenty of room to move around, more than I would have had in my 4 person tent. My camp site was right at the mouth of the St. Johns River. It is a major marine port and huge ships were floating by
all the time.
I woke Saturday to pouring rain but as the sun came up the rain cleared to beautiful sunny skies. It was looking good for the Pre-Ride. I decided to hang around camp a wile and do some exploring over to the beach to watch the surfer's that had been streaming in the park

since 8 am.
I drove over to Hanna Park (about a 20 min drive) to get a couple pre-ride laps. I got all signed in and got my number plate. While chit chatting with folks around the Gone Riding trailer no one told me of the trails condition. I new the trail was wet but I was thinking it was just gonna be packed (semi white) sand throughout. Boy w

as I wrong. As soon as I entered the Single track there was a 200 yard long black, stanky, mud puddle. I thought "oh well a little mud at the start" but River of Trail!as I went on there was puddle after puddle.
After about 1.5 miles in the trail dried out and was fast

 and flowing with tight turns with huge berms. Then about half way through I had to make a hard left hand turn through a big puddle. I dove right in thinking it would only be as deep as the rest of the puddles I had encountered (about 6 inches deep) Well my front tire went out of sight as I bogged down right in the middle, now standing in nasty water above my knees YUK! I Dredged on and came to another deeper whole and again dove right in before I knew it was soooo deep.
Poor Girl!
I made it through the first lap and even though I had planned to do two laps it would not be worth it. I took my bike over to the beach showers and washed her down then sprayed her with WD-40 and gushed chain lube all over every moving part. I planned on lub

ing it all again before the race.

I made my way back to camp to hunker down in the back of the van for the night. I kept thinking of Chris Farley saying in a skit on saturday night live "You want to end up living in a van down by the river?" I took a shower in the park facilities which were very substandard. I didn't even want to stand in the shower with sandals on it was soo nasty. I ended up spending most of the night fishing with no luck. I only had some artificial baits. I would have caught something had I gone and got some shrimp for bait. I had fun any way walking the shore listening to Planet Radio 107.3.
Sunday morning came quick, it seemed like time flew by. I packed everything up and bolted for Hanna Park. The White wave (beginner) had already started by the time I had got there. I was trying to talk myself out of racing but I knew if I did not race I would regret it when I got home. I got race ready and rode over to the start.
On the start line of my race (Sport Men 30-39) it looked like a bunch of pro's. All light weight XC bikes with riders with full kits on and clipless. I looked really out of place with my flat pedals and shin guards. The whistle blew and I was off. I settled into last place within the first 100 yards. The start was along a tree line next to a grassy field. It was mud bog city by the time we started. I entered the single track right behind the pack and tried to hang on. I managed to keep them in sight for the first mile but then the later classes begin to catch me. About two mile in I was passing a dude pushing his bike carrying his chain. I said need some help, I gotta chain tool? He said sure. I jumped off got out my chain tool to hand it to him but he says " uhh i'm not sure how to use that". Sooooo of course I spend 10 min fixing his chain, even put in a new link pin for him. I was assuming he was going to try and finish. He finished out that lap and quit. Had I known he was just gonna ride out and quit I would have let him walk. Anyway I had an extra long first lap. By the middle of the second lap some of the sport women were catching me. I was amazed to see these women just plow thru the mud and muck like it was nothing. Some wearing only Bike shorts and jog bras. My subsequent laps got faster.
I finished in fine fashion as usual. Dave of Gone riding was pulling up stakes as I crossed the line. I was glad to be thru but did have a good time of it. After finishing and making sure I got counted as finishing, I rode straight over to the beach and got in the ocean. Shoes, shirt, riding shorts and all. I just wallered around in the surf trying to get the ZOO smelling mud and muck off me. I changed clothes, made my last two "Pickle Loaf" sandwiches and headed north Home. Of course I ran in to construction traffic on I-75 and it took me 6 HOURS to get HOME!
RESULTS I ended up finishing 16th of 21 Sport Men 30-39
I only had a disposable camera on this trip! click here for ALL PHOTOS
Wet Sunrise

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