The mountain bike course chosen for the SERC # 3 by Gone Riding is located in Conyers, GA. It’s within the grounds of the Georgia International Horse Park, and it is best known because it’s where the 1996 Mountain Biking Olympics took place.
I personally find this course to be a mix of all that my legs mostly like. It has the perfect combination of flow and obstacles to keep my bike rolling fast, yet at a speed I find myself very comfortable racing in. In other words, it’s got nothing that’s going to kill me, which allows me to take higher speed risks when racing my mountain bike in this particular trail. PERFECT. This trail is simply…PERFECT.
I have participated in the round of the SERC that has taken place in this location in the last two consecutive years, so I knew exactly what I was looking forward to. I have had some of my best races in this trail before, so I felt very positive in the week leading to this race that I could win it. That was my goal, simple: the Win. However, I also did know that I’d have strong competition, especially when I saw some very familiar faces while I was doing the race course recon the day prior to Race Day. Yep, my fellow Floridian Flatlander MTB Chicks Madison McDaniel and Lauren Roswell would be showing up to give me a run for my money.
FLORIDA GIRLS KILLING IT!
Five seconds, Garmin computers beep, the whistle goes off, and clips started clipping in….except mine. Yep, unlike last weekend where I had a perfect start, today was totally the opposite. 15 seconds in I was sprinting past racers in order to be first in the woods, or at the very least behind Madison who was leading right off the start of the race. I settled on her wheel I was reminded that that’s where I belong (LOL). Madison was cranking hard in the first uphill, and settling into the lead which she was able to keep for the whole race. I too, was settled comfortably and for the first time ever, I was able to stay as close to Madison as I did on a cross country race. I followed her and watched her bike handling and tried to mimic it, and I recorded my fastest lap of the race while doing so. It wasn’t until the downhill-ish sections of the trail that she’d open up gaps on me, so little by little I lost sight of her, but I knew I wouldn’t be too far.
I reminded myself to keep pressing forward hard, find all ways to keep my momentum where I could, to stay off the brakes in the turns, to let the bike go in the downhills and be as efficient as possible in the two largest climbs of the course, which really weren’t that tall compared to the sustained climbing I encountered in the Knobscorcher / SERC # 2, but long enough to bust a lung or two. Maybe that could miraculously get me that win I wanted, or at least keep me in a solid Second Place for the duration of the race. I continued to focus on having a clean race because Lauren was just behind me, and she was riding strong.
On the side…
As I am writing my thoughts down, I realize that all other women that have lined up to this particular race with me so far have been, in some special way each, very inspiring to me. I have literally lined up, looked around, and seen some strong, dedicated freaking legs surrounding me, ready to put it down on me with a smile on their face! It’s so cool. I hope that more Floridian women come up and explore racing outside of the state, and challenge themselves to something entirely different than what we experience in Florida XC racing. The camaraderie and respect women have for one another in this part of Georgia is extremely refreshing. Here is my official invite to all of you reading this.
To The Bergers & GoneRiding.com, and the sponsors of third round of the Southeast Regional Championship. Special mention to Mark Perri who motivated me during the race, and chased me around like I was a rabbit in the trails.
Thanks to Alex’s Bicycle Pro Shop for their continued support as I continue chasing my competitive mountain biking goals. I am forever grateful.
Congratulations to my fiancé Michael Hodges for a very deserved Top 3 finish.
Best of luck to Lauren Roswell as she embarks in her first big race in the Pro field at Sea Otter 2017. I’ll be cheering for you!!!
The next SERC race is until April 30th in Winder, GA. However, the weekend directly after that one I will be shredding hard around the DeGray Lake in Arkadelphia, AR for the 2017 USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Championship. BRAPP!!!