The 2014 Specialized Florida State Championship headed to South Florida for a packed weekend of racing at Markham Park in Sunrise, FL. Besides being the 5th round of the FSC series, this weekend also kicked off the first race of the South Florida Coconut Cup Series. Plus the always exciting Short Track race on Saturday.
It's always the best when you're racing at a home park. Obviously local trail knowledge is great for your confidence. It also can give you a psychological advantage. A "home game" also means a short car ride to the park and sleeping in your own bed.
As a South Florida rider I enjoy the combined format of the FSC series with the first three CC races. It gives me a chance to race with friends who may only be doing the Coconut Cup. It also adds a new challenge to the state racers as they have to go up against new faces.
Now it's no secret that Markham has a rep for munching on bodies and bikes. The pits are full of war stories about cuts, bruises, stitches, bones and busted bikes... and this weekend was no exception. What's intriguing to me is that Markham is a 90% technical park, not unlike Oleta, Alafia or Carter Road. Those parks also collect their share of bodies and bikes, but for some reason those parks don't seem to have the same mythology Markham has. Go figure. I'll just chalk it up to a home court advantage no matter how they lay out the course.
Speaking of which, for those of us that ride Markham all the time it was nice to have the course laid out in the direction that we always ride. Turtle Slide and Semper Fi, which are part of the AMTB(adaptive mountain bike) loop, where nice additions and new way to go around Crime Scene. The redesign of the end of Outback Extension matched low gear switchback climbing with a steep downhill feeding you into tall banked corners for a corkscrew exit that I know had some people doing the death grip on their handlebars.
As for the condition of the tails the Markham Park trail maintenance volunteers continue to do a fantastic job building and maintaining the trail system here. These guys and gals do a lot of fund-raising and invest hundreds of hours to support the trails and it shows. If you only come to Markham for the races you've noticed a lot of building and improvements.
Of special note is the AMTB(adaptive mountain bike) loop which this crew recently completed. It runs about 4 miles and was used for the kids course. They also provide the bike patrol for the races and weekends. You guys rock!
So now it's onto Haile's Trails. Rumor has it that there's two new miles of trail and that Dave Berger is spicing them up by invoking the spirits of the original Razorback trails. I hope the rumors are true.
Ride Hard! Ride Safe!
Tom Pike is an Ellsworth Team Rider. Tom has won a Silver Medal at the USAC National Mountain Bike Championships and is a two time Florida State Mountain Bike Champion. In his “spare time” he works teaching Film Production at Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, Florida.
* New this year Gone Riding is now offering an optional membership for $30 and includes a t-shirt, sticker and a $5 discount off regular entry prices. This membership can be purchased at any Gone Riding event, the Gone Riding store or online at First Place Racing.com. Also USAC licenses will also be honored at all cross country events and receive the same $5 discount.
*Also new is the Gone Riding Store including our new Gone Riding Jersey
mountain bike racing
Mountain bike racing