“Horse Shit”
adjective
A blatant lie, a fragrant untruth, an obvious falicy.


“Horse Shit” (at Tsali)
noun
The dirt composition of the Tsali trail network.


Needless to say, this definition didn’t come to fruition until after the mud-slick race we had in the rain.

My weekend started with the long 4hr drive to Bryson City, NC where the 3rd round of the SERC series was held. I’d never been to the Tsali trails but have always heard about the amazing views and fun flowy trails. Arriving Saturday to setup camp and preride the course, Patrick and I set out on an afternoon lap around the lake. The Tsali trails loop around Fontana Lake. Mostly composed of fast flowy-ness, the trails are hardpack, sand, and pinestraw covered. Nothing too technical, but there are a few steep climbs. Due to having to loop around the entire lake, our pro/cat 1 race was set to do 2 15mi laps following the ‘Option 3’ course markings. The former, ‘Option 1’ and ‘Option 2’, were shorter/longer loops for the other categories. The trails are used by both horse riders and bikers. The trail switches users based on the day of the week.

Course Map Around the Lake

 

Patrick and I Camped at Tsali Campground

 

Views were awesome atop the trail

Sunday was race day. Knowing the weather the entire week, I’d hoped the 100% chance of rain would miraculously change. To everyone’s surprise, the weather man was right this time. Early Sunday AM I heard rain atop of van. Awaking around 0600, more rain. This would be an interesting day. I got my warmup in then rode to the starting line, again in the rain. The size of the elite men was a normal 15-ish riders. Before the start we were given the option to do the shorter ‘Option 2’ which consisted of one large lap around the lake. Majority vote won and in hindsight, I was glad. The race took off, and we were trudging through, what seemed like, a creek of a trail. Nearly 75% of the trail was covered in water. Puddles here and there, everywhere. I settled in 3rd wheel, taking advantage of seeing where riders in front were slipping and bracing myself. When the leaders slipped on a tough uphill, I took over the lead and set the pace for the next several miles. I realized it was nice being out front with a clean view into the trail; noticing all the roots, puddles, and being able to judge the slickness solo. About halfway through, my own pace was pushing my limits. A few riders pass and we all ride together until about 3/4 through the race. It was fun riding with the others along the course.  A lead group broke out and I settled in to wind around the remaining parts of the lake alone. I come down the sloshy finish line trail in 6th place overall (4th in the 19-39 age group).

Aftermath

 

The previous leader of the series, Mose, had technical issues during the race, so I pulled ahead with the overall points lead in the SERC series. Surprised/excited to take home the leaders jersey and get to represent it during the next race.

SERC Series Leader’s Jersey
SERC #3 – Bryson City, NC

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