Riding the Huracan300 [Part 1]

After weeks of [not]preparing and a remarkably underwhelming stay at the Shangri-la hotel in Ocala, the ToeCutter crew woke up and rolled out to the 6am start of the race at the Santos trailhead. Temps were going to be comfortable at the start. The same could probably not be said for the digestive tracks of the guys who decided to get the Deluxe Seafood Delight at the oyster bar the night before.

True to form, we were late for the start and rolled out about 5 minutes after everyone else. As luck would have it, the rest of the crew from ATL had also been late risers and we rolled out nearly a dozen deep into the fresh morning singletrack.

I was towards the front of the group and got into a good rhythm. Despite a couple small issues with stowage, I hung out at a good pace and the miles started melting away. Soon the sun came up and we were really knocking back the course. After a brief 18 mile stretch on a paved greenway trail we were back into the woods through the Citrus WMA. The forest was scarred in places and there were a number of small active fires going, but nothing that would hinder the ride, just something to add to the scenery (and heat).

So much for party pace
So much for party pace

Continue reading Riding the Huracan300 [Part 1]

The great albino mountain hog of Snake Creek

Went up to Snake Creek Gap to ride the first 17 out and back with a couple friends. I don’t remember it being as hard as it was. It might be because I took the Fargo and not the fat bike. Smaller tires and harder gearing probably contributed to my feelings about the trail today.

The weather was beautiful for the last day of January, so I was actually able to see some of the views along the ridgeline.


The Fargo handled really well. I put a new brake on the front this week and this was the first test of how it handled. There’s no shortage of steep technical descending on this route but I felt great the whole way.

The big event of the day was the hog that we caught sleeping on the trail. We stirred it (by grazing it with my pedal as I rode by) and watched for a minute as it groggilly decided that it didn’t really want to deal with us. Unfortunately, once it woke completely it started to cause some strife for other trail users, snorting and allegedly charging at some joggers and men on horse. The horse riders apparently began to shoot the beast with their sidearms. Woefully under-powered things that more than likely either did little more than further agitate the animal or put small holes in it resulting in a long agonizing death by bleeding out.

It’s a shame it came to that, but I’m in awe that I was able to encounter this creature as close as I did.

Today’s ride:

The First Snake

I rode my first Snake Creek Gap today. The conditions were right on point for every mountain bike race I’ve ever done: cold, muddy, stormy.

My race started, as most do, the day before with an easy ride over to storage to pick up my weapon of choice: the Salsa Beargrease.

After speaking with some veterans of the race, I came to the conclusion that the ideal [pre-race] strategy was to have a driver and forgo the bus shuttle to the start. This turned out to be crucial for me as it gave me the time I needed to convince my bowels to do their thing before there were enough people at the start area to form a line. It’s also really nice to finish a race and have someone waiting for you.

The forecast called for light rain during the event with increasing chances of thunderstorms as the day went on. The previous two days had dumped several inches of rain on the area so anything that wasn’t a rock was either mud or a creek. Almost the entire race was blanketed in a thick fog that held visibility at something like 15 meters. I suppose there were some incredible views along the ridge, maybe I’ll find out next time; I can say that the ambiance the fog created really helped me focus on the section of trail immediately ahead of me and not get distracted with ‘big picture’ worries.

Clearly the fat bike was the right choice. It definitely outperformed me today. Taking my propensity for choosing the worst possible line and laughing me through it. I found that many of the best lines in all but the gnarliest of rock sections was ‘straight ahead’. The tires gripped and pulled me up and over just about everything.

Having never ridden the race [or the trail] before, and having two more installments to complete this year, I decided to use this as a recon ride and took the whole race easy. I stopped to force down a few energy bars I made the night before (fig, cashew, peanut butter, cranberry), had enough discipline to remind myself to drink water regularly, and overall had a good time.IMG_5127

I had my share of sections I wasn’t able to clean, but I managed to stave off the psychological demoralization that so many I’ve talked to about this race seem to feel about the ‘never ending’ rock garden. Not to make it sound easy, I was certainly glad when the trail opened up and I was in the cul-de-sac leading to the final descent, but I was definitely expecting much worse, especially considering the ground conditions.

I’m looking forward to riding this again when I have some fitness and possibly dryer conditions and better visibility.

Today’s Ride: