March 17th, 2018
I perfected drifting sand corners and trudging through 6″ deep sand this weekend.
January, Feb, and March is the time to travel South. So much for the ‘cold’ weather in SC. This weekend I took off for FL for the Graham Swamp 360. It’s a three-hundred sixty minute (6hr) race through one of Florida’s best mountain bike trails. Snuck in near the east coast, this trail is only a few streets from the beach. I’d previously rode this trail months ago and was surprised with the elevation it had. With plenty of punchy climbs and rough terrain including several rock and root sections, this isn’t your typical FL singletrack. Also maintained by some of the coolest folks in the state, the ride has a mix of technical short downhills, wide open flat sections, flowy doubles, and plenty of chop to put your full suspension bike though the paces. If you get to ride, let @grahamswamptrailcrew know what you think.
The race was Saturday morning. Calling for sunshine in the 70s all day, it was going to be a beaut. Friday afternoon I prerode with buddy Pete. The trail morphed compared to my prior ride. With no rain recently, there was much more sand exposed, causing much less traction and some tricky sections. Afterward, we picked our race goodies up; getting a cool t-shirt and pint glass.
Saturday morning was go-time. I signed up for the 3 hour race (self-named ‘180’). The event started as a Le Mans style. We placed our bikes down the trail. Everyone started first doing a short running loop, followed by a unique challenge of caring an egg on a spoon. We could then grab our bikes and go. The run was a short one.. maybe half mile, or maybe it just felt that long. The egg carry was interesting, but I was glad to see my bike. Off into the trail we went.
Fast lap times at ‘The Swamp’ previously hovered around 30 minutes. I was aiming for 5 laps. My first lap was smooth. Putting a good effort in for a 34 minute time. I was out front, leading by a few minutes at this point. Lap 2, 3, and 4 were consistently tough with lap times similar to the first. I caught glimpses of second place through the trees a few times, but my ride was mainly a solo 3 hour. I came into finishing lap 4 with 41 minutes to complete lap 5. I took off to complete the final effort. Making sure to keep the rubber side down, I finished with a few minutes to spare to take the 3 hour race win.
While I recovered from 5 laps on a very tough trail, I got to spectate the rest of the 6 hour race. Temps began rising and I was glad to be done. All awards were custom made, which made the trophy one of my favorites I have.
For more, the heckle edit: https://youtu.be/DUCasMXGhIw