Race Report: Fair Hill, Fat Tire Classic, and The Chain Stretcher
After a fun-filled Saturday at Bear Creek celebrating the 2014 Season Kick Off, energized Giant riders headed off in all directions to race in their snazzy new kits.
Mid-Atlantic Super Series XC #1: Bike Line Spring XC at Fair Hill; Elkton, MD
Bike Line presented a fun, well-organized race with over 600 racers in attendance. Fair Hill is popular with cyclists across disciplines for its fast, easy singletrack and relatively flat course. Light rain followed by sun in the days previous made for ideal trail conditions. The morning was bright and windy. A change from last year’s race-day schedule brought out the Pro/Cat 1 riders for the first races of the day rather than saving them for last.
As riders finished their warmups and found their places in the staging area for the first races of the day, one rider discovered her bike wasn’t race-ready. Word traveled quickly: “Jamie’s bike is missing a brake pad. Can you help?” A few minutes later, Jamie was transferring her race number and Strava to April’s handlebars while April swapped out seatposts and two eager bystanders replaced the pedals. Jamie made it to the start with just enough time to borrow a multi-tool from Jessica so she could raise her seat to the maximum height possible.
Simultaneous to the bike-swap drama under the Giant canopy, the starter’s whistle was about to send a mass of eager Pro/Cat 1 men sprinting up the gravel starting chute into the crosswinds.
“The first part of the race was crucial for positioning before single track, so the front rows at the starting line overflowed far beyond the bounds of the road onto the bank of grass and brambles. I chose to stay on the road and had to settle for a position about five rows back. The back of the field started slowly as we rolled off the line while the front seemed to stretch out of sight immediately.” (Andy)
Once over the hill and down the other side, the racers splashed through their first creek crossing and pressed around the bend to funnel onto the wooded singletrack. By the time the last wave of Cat 1 riders had been released, Giant Northeast had eight racers on course: Jordan, Jed, Joel, and Andy in the Pro/Cat 1 Open Men; Ryan and Lester in the Cat 1 19-39 age group; and Abbey, Jessica, and Jamie in the Pro/Cat 1 Open Women.
Andy focused on working his way up from the back of the pack but punctured his rear tire on the second lap during a stream crossing. After flatting a second time, Andy was out of resources and decided to abandon the race. Meanwhile, Abbey and the other racers still on the course were hard at work.
From pro rider Abbey:
“For the rest of the second and most of the third lap, I was by myself. This is always a difficult situation to be in. I had to give myself pep talks to keep pushing hard because you never know who is behind you and when someone might catch you.”
Lester was also keeping himself motivated:
“When I knew I was about 2.5 miles from the finish I starting laying it down as the terrain got smoother and fast. I tried to focus on keeping the heart rate up and pressure on as if I was chasing or being chased…”
Down at the finish line, spectators enjoyed watching Jordan win an exciting sprint for 7th place. Joel and Jed finished strong in the pack, followed a few moments later by Lester, who was making the other age groupers work hard to hold his wheel. Abbey cruised in to a 7th place finish in a speed-packed women’s field. Jessica rode like the endurance champ she is, finishing each lap faster than the one before.
Jamie, who smiled the whole way through the race, decided to pull out after two laps so she could return April’s bike in time for April’s race. April jogged up and down the feed zone to warm up while Jamie and Andy quickly swapped the pedals and seat. Once again, the little green Lust headed to the start line.
April and Amy started in a field of 31 Cat 2 U40 and 40+ Women. April was able to make a break early on the singletrack, while Amy was detained temporarily with a stubborn dropped chain. After two laps of hard pedaling, both riders won their age groups.
Joel and Jessica, committed endurance riders, enjoyed the day as a fun opportunity to spend time with the team and get in some miles for their upcoming races.
“Joel and I were both happy with our rides. We had fun and enjoyed the day. Despite the intensity of an XC race, I still took the time to chat with fellow riders and look at the flowers growing along the course. Friends and riders from Saucon Valley Bikes were there also; cheers from them along with Giant Northeast brought a smile to my face.” (Jessica)
Then it was time for clean clothes, snacks, and packing up the team tents. Or… in Jess and Joel’s case, it was time to go out and ride another lap on the course!
Root 66 Northeast XC Trail Series: Fat Tire Classic at Winding Trails; Farmington, CT
One of our Vermont riders, junior Ryan Berliner, stopped for a race on his way home from the Giant Northeast Team Kick-Off. Despite napping before his race, Ryan barely managed to make it through the entire Cat 1 junior race before falling back to sleep again:
“I knew the race was going to be long, and rode the first couple of laps at a little bit of a slower pace, conserving my energy. Third lap came around and I started to ramp up my speed and get ready for the last lap. The last lap came and at about an hour and a half, I didn’t know what was harder, pedaling or keeping my eyes open.”
Get some more sleep, Ryan!
Jamis Bicycles H2H MTB Series #1: The Chain Stretcher; Peekskill, NY
One Giant Northeast Rider kitted up for the first Hudson to Highlands Series race of the season. From grassroots rider Mike Romanowski, on racing in his Cat 1 age group:
“After we took off up the first small climb, I got pushed off the trail and lost a few spots. As we continued on into the first muddy spot and started to hit the technical sections, I was able to grab on to the back of the lead group. I saw a chance to gain another position in a very technical downhill section, but it didn’t work out by any means. I ended up drilling a tree and getting a front flat.”
But leave it to Mike to maintain an upbeat Ride Life attitude:
“All in all with the crashes and the flat that I had to deal with, I’m still very happy with the race went and how I was able to stay positive throughout the race. So, at the end of the day it’s a good reminder to always stay positive and not dwell on things that already happened. Try to keep a clear mind and just keep pushing. You never know what or who is around the next corner!”