So as I've raved about for the past few weeks, I went to Santos, FL over the past weekend for some mountain bike racing. All in all, this was a great trip. I was able to take Friday off from work and loaded up my gear. Monte and I hit the road for a five hour trip to Florida. We stopped about 45 minutes out of Santos in Gainesville, FL where we met up with Monte's brother-in-law Mike as well as two other guys from Macon, GA., Chad and Jeff Clayton. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and said our last goodbyes to the bustling civilization.
Once we arrived at the Santos Mountain Biking Trails, we unpacked the gear and setup camp. Our good friend Dean Thorton was already there and had his camp setup when we arrived. Thanks to Dean, we were able to get a spot right next to the race course. This made pit stops easy during the race. After shooting the shit and changing into our riding gear, we hit the trails for a quick pre-ride before sundown. This was the first time I had been to the Santos Trails. It was definitely tougher than I expected. To start off the lap, the trail takes you on a series of sharp ups and downs with tight twists and turns that follow the banks of what was supposed to once be the Florida Canal. Of course the canal was hardly started so all that was left is a big hole in the middle of Florida. After figuring out some good lines along the technical trails, we were then on some flat twisty trail. For about another 3-4 miles, the trail winds in and out with hardly any elevation gain. This area was a good spot to unleash the speed and make up some time. Unfortunately, during the pre-ride, I took a pretty good spill. As the sun was setting, a blinding ray of light was shining right in my eyes and I came across a set of roots. I cleared the 1st and 2nd set but did not see the 3rd. It was the 3rd set that stopped my front wheel and over the bars I went. From what my riding buddies stated, I claimed I was ok while still flying in the air. After dusting off my body, I got back on the bike and we finished our pre-ride lap. This lap was a good awakening for what was before us on Saturday.
On Friday night, we cleaned up a bit from our pre-ride and were hungry for some carbs. Monte's brother-in-law, Mike, cooked up some baked ziti. We heated it up on the grill and ate like kings. Word was spreading around the camp that fires were banned due to a county wide drought. This was upsetting to us since the temps were dropping fast as soon as the sun went down. Word has it that the temps reached in the 20's. I wouldn't doubt it. On Friday night, we huddled around a propane heater that Monte brought along. After some beers and a little whiskey, we hit the sack for some rest.
Saturday morning I woke up to someone blasting "Smoke on the Water." That was before 7am. Waking up was hard to do since it was soooo cold. We all eventually climbed out of our warm sleeping bags and got ourselves ready for the race ahead. I made my way down to the staging area around 9:30am. I got my bike placed in a good spot for the Lemond start. Shortly after 10am, the horn sounded and hundreds of gutless mountain bikers were in an all out sprint to their bikes. This was a problem. When you have hundreds of people riding their bikes towards a narrow single track trail, you are bound to have a traffic jam. By the time I reached the actual trail, everyone was in a near standstill. I got off the bike and shouldered it around all the stopped riders. This worked to my advantage to get around all those who couldn't figure out how to pedal forward.Now I'm on the trail racing at the beginning moments of a 6 hour race. Everything was going pretty well till lap 2. You remember I mentioned the beer and whiskey from Friday night? What a stupid move. The temps were beginning to rise and my body was feeling it. Not only was the bad descisions from the night before hitting me, I was feeling pretty sore from the fall I took during the pre-ride. In the pits, Mike caught up with me and I decided to slow my pace a little and ride with him for a while. We rode out our third lap together but I just wasn't feeling it. My mind wasn't right, the body wasn't right and the fun had stopped. After the 3rd lap, I started coughing pretty hard from all the dust in the air. I coughed so hard that I ended up blowing some chunks. This created another problem for me. After throwing up, my throat became raw and it felt like I had something stuck in it. This affected my breathing. With all the problems I was facing, I decided to call it a day and to just sit back and root my buddies on in their efforts to compete in the race. This was a decision I'm not ashamed of. It just wasn't my day. I made some bad choices and it affected my race. I have learned from those decisions and will think twice about what I do the night before a race. I still had a good time getting a few laps in and watching my friends race their race.
After the 6 hour race was over, we all just rested around the camp for a while and watched the 12 hour guys run their laps. We fixed some good food and shot the shit with each other. It was good times. On Sunday, we woke up and packed up the camp. We all were tired but didn't feel like leaving without getting one more ride in. We got on the bikes and rode out for a 20 mile ride out to the land bridge and back. This ride was over some really easy trails. The land bridge is a pretty cool bridge that crosses I-75. It is designed specifically for bikes, hikers and horses. After a couple of pictures, we headed back to the Santos trailhead and got in the truck and hit the road back home. Good times were had. I'm already looking forward to getting back to Santos for more rides.
Keep the rubber side down!!