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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I love the trails at Issaqueena Experimental Forest in Clemson SC. They are ideal singlespeed trails and boatloads of fun to ride on any bike any time. My enjoyment of these trails has translated into some great races on these trails as well. And I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pull out the ss for some XC racing fun at Issaqueena this past weekend. Not to mention an opportunity to visit with my friends Z & the bestest feedzone fairy ever, Tammy, whom I've sorely missed this year as our race schedules have barely overlapped.

m-m and I headed up to pre-ride late on Sat and arrived on the tail of those typical southern summer late afternoon thunder soakers that does nothing but make the trail sloppy, the roads steam, and increase the humidity in the air from 99.9% to 275%. m-m was going to test out his knee, which has been feeling much better, and do the preride with me. But rather than wallow in the slick red-orange Carolina clay we decided to forego the pre-ride and 3 subsequent hrs of bike clean-up.

One advantage of having raced the same series for the past 4 years is that I now have practically every XC course on the schedule memorized. We head toward the start line and I ride my ghost bike a la that credit card commercial where the guy is out "riding" with his buddies but he doesn't have a bike because he's waiting to get his credit card reward.


(no, that's not me…or m-m….in fact, I don't know who it is)

We're 10 feet into the start of the trail when "riding" my ghost bike I begin my narrative:
Down the short bit of fireroad - this part is going to suck on the ss since it's got a very slight downhill grade so we're all going to be spinning like hamsters, left turn into the woods, a few root drops smoothest line to the left then a curve to the right, smooth, until the short up with the root lip -the right side is the smoothest, and left turn onto the double track. Spin the double track….there's a log hop a little ways down then it's a fast descent past that log on the right and then keep my eyes open for that downed tree on the right which is the marker to scrub speed for the sharp left that is coming up. Around the sharp left and smooth and fast, a drop, 2 trees, and then a sharp right…

"Why are we even walking this? You already have it memorized!!" m-m asks. I grin. We prewalk the first mile of the trail and head back to the car. I'll spin my legs out on the trainer tonight sot that they're fresh for the morning. the ss race is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am.

Race day dawns hot with the promise of getting hotter. The start is typical of all starts. I take off and spin like a gerbil on crack down the short fire road and into the single track. I drop into the trail behind a guy on a blue bike.



The trail is bone dry to the point of being slick from the dust. It feels like there is no one else around but me and the blue bike in front of me. I am racing for personal satisfaction rather than a podium spot since I am racing the open ss class as the only female (again). My plan is to ride the first lap at endurance pace and then pick it up for the 2nd lap. My goal is simple: don't finish last.

My legs feel good and I follow the rider on the blue bike - sometimes getting almost close enough to pass and sometimes dropping back. The deer are out in force and gallop along side the trail as I ride. The trail is almost too dry. My front wheel nearly washes out a few times. Up the steep hill, my legs still feel good and I am getting ready to start lap 2.

Out for lap 2, I push my pace. I'm done after this lap so I can afford to leave it all out there. The rider on the blue bike nearly hits a deer as it jumps across the trail. It's hot out but not as hot or as humid as I anticipated. I cruise through the lap, hit the fireroad climb and push up the hill. Almost done. I feel like I'm out on the course alone….so alone, in fact that it feels like I'm not even on the same course as everyone else.

And, in all honesty, I'm not! :eek:

The truth is, we got up to Clemson on Sat, did our prewalk and then headed off to dinner where I suddenly realized that I'd left my cycling shoes at home!!

No shoes. No race. Doh! :madmax:

This is the first time I have ever gone to a race and forgotten to bring a major piece of gear. Glad we hadn't driven 5 hrs!!

We hung out with Z, Tammy, Charly, and Thomas until about 9:30 pm when they hit the hay for their pre-race beauty sleep, then headed back to Atlanta. Instead of racing I spent a couple hours chasing m-m on his blue bike at Ft. Yargo State Park yesterday (where the deer really were out in force).


Technical rooty section


passion flower seen next to the trail

:D

rt
 

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Wow, I was wondering if we were at the same race! I knew that I was racing SS, I knew that it started at 9:30. I knew that I hadn't seen ANY women racing SS. Too bad you didn't show up on Sunday. We left the Black Forest camp ground near Dupont at around 7:30 AM and showed around 8:30. I had my wifes MTB shoes (size 6) in the van and suffering from neglect as our trip accidently coincided with a time of month that she doesn't like to ride:eek:

Here is my very breif report for your enjoyment.

After getting slightly lost on the way to Clemson and having to ask directions, we arrived precisely at 8:30 just as they are making the last call for the kids 9 to 11 race (why do they have them start so early?). After apologizing to my daughter for getting there late, I got in line to register. Then got out of line because I had to move the van from the wrong side of the road. Back in line, I finally get my race packet, one day norba liscence, and number.

I rush to get changed into riding clothes, make sure the Surly is fit to ride, and do a few quick spins up the road to get the blood flowing in my legs. I meet with my buddy Doug, and we talk for a few minutes before lining up. I am looking around to see if I can find "rt", but to no avail.

The race starts, and I am near the back of the pack almost instantly. The downhill fire road section is testing my ability to spin, and I apparently forgot to study. We enter the singletrack and I am in 8th place out of ten. That lasts for about half a mile. I am really getting worked on the techy stuff. I know that it isn't the bike (full rigid) that is slowing me down, there are other guys ahead of me riding rigid too. It is me. I have really lost some technical skills living in ND. It isn't that I can't ride this stuff, I just can't seem to ride it fast. Maybe if I were on the Fuel, it would be better. I get passed by the other two riders in my class and then the parade of gearies starts.

As we near the "bottom" of the first section of trail, I see one of the SS racers not that far in front of me. I pick up the pace a bit to catch up to him and sit on his rear wheel for a bit. Looking ahead, I see another rider that I think is my freind Doug about 20 yards ahead. I give a burst on a climb to catch up to him, and discover that it is one of the gearies falling off the pace. I pass him on the climb and then find myself riding alone.

As I descend the gravel road heading towards the lake, I am again passed by a parade of gearies on FS bikes. I hit the singletrack...........and slowed down again. Damn my ND technical skills:madman: I crash on some roots down by the lake. I push up the the steep parts of the road climb back to the start finish area. I see the feed zone, and think, wow, I am low on water. As I cross one of the roads I see my wife, and ask her for a water bottle. I almost stop as she tells me that she doesn't have one for me. (oops, I forgot to give it to her, it's back in the van). The rider behind me almost runs into me as we are having this discussion (sorry dude). I go tearing off to get a fresh water bottle and then head back to the trail to finish my lap where I left off.

Heading down the singletrack descent, the lone SS racer that I had passed earlier gets back on my tail. I let him by as I know that I am slowing him down on the descents. Their are plenty of climbs later that I will be able to pass him on. I pull an endo off the side of the railroad tie bridge trying to keep up with the guy. He asks if I am OK as I brush myself off and jump back on the bike. I pass him again on the climb back up to the fire road descent. This time, there are a few riders working on their bikes at the top. I swing wide to clear them and then start to rocket down the road. I see some guy riding back up the road. And then another. Why are these guys riding UP the road? And then it dawns on me (and the gearie racer that just passed me). We are on the wrong road:madman: I turn around and start to churn my way back up the road and discover that I had made the turn too soon.

On one of the final climbs, I pass the lone SSr again. He looks at me as if to say "didn't you pass me before?" I just tell him that I took a wrong turn. The rest of the race was uneventful. I finished 9th out of 10 riders. That was good enough to put me in 21st place for the season in the SERC seiries. Not bad for an ND roadie:thumbsup:

I need to work on my tech skillz. And fitness. And general riding ability.

Well, that's not really all that breif is it? Not as good as an "rt" race report, but I hope that it will suffice.
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
LOL! great report. sorry i missed you. it would have been great to meet up...and borrow your wife's shoes. :D size 6 would have been perfect! clemson is a deceptively tricky trail. i've crashed more than my fair share of times, once even leaving a bruised imprint of the schwinn logo on my knee cap. :eekster:

sounds like you had fun despite the detours!

:)

rt
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
teleken said:
"Spin like a gerbil on crack." Love it.
Nice write up (again) but not as eventful as your last race I guess.
:) thanks! sadly, it's tough to have an eventful race with no shoes. i guess i could have tried to figure out a way to install the extra set of cleats directly into the bottom of my feet but that wasn't really all that appealing. besides, i didn't think it would provide the sort of stiff platform i generally prefer. :D

rt
 

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*rt* said:
i guess i could have tried to figure out a way to install the extra set of cleats directly into the bottom of my feet but that wasn't really all that appealing. besides, i didn't think it would provide the sort of stiff platform i generally prefer. :D
A spare set of cleats, two pieces of wood, and a roll of duct tape and you would have been good to go... ;)
 

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The Notorious S.L.O
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My sister used to live out by the SERC....

I never had my bike when visiting, but it looked like a really cool, fast ride back in there.
 

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There's no app for this.
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You and *rt*

are laying a major guilt trip on us for not racing. I'm still stuck mostly on the couch.:madman: and in front of the monitor, and thankfully I can read your race reports. It'll be another 5+ weeks until i can fall off my bike again.

Thanks youse two, Jim
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
JimC. said:
are laying a major guilt trip on us for not racing. I'm still stuck mostly on the couch.:madman: and in front of the monitor, and thankfully I can read your race reports. It'll be another 5+ weeks until i can fall off my bike again.

Thanks youse two, Jim
stay on the couch and keep up the healing. the bike will wait & i'll see what i can do about more race reports in the meantime. :)

rt
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
btadlock said:
I never had my bike when visiting, but it looked like a really cool, fast ride back in there.
the trails are the clemson, or issaqueena, trails. SERC is the race series. ;)

they are fun trails though. however, the only picture in my race report that was actually taken at the clemson trails is the second one (with the racers coming down over the roots). :)

rt
 

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JimC. said:
are laying a major guilt trip on us for not racing. I'm still stuck mostly on the couch.:madman: and in front of the monitor, and thankfully I can read your race reports. It'll be another 5+ weeks until i can fall off my bike again.

Thanks youse two, Jim
You just concetrate on healing up Jim! There will be time for racing later. Issaqueena was the best race that I have had in a long time. I forgot what it was like to have full feilds of riders to race against. For my next race, I will be back in ND where the competition isn't quite so stiff.

Of course, now that I have had time to make excuses, I will blame my ninth place finish on riding Dupont on the SS with a 32X16 just a few days before. I am sure that my legs were still toast from that workout;)
 

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The Notorious S.L.O
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*rt* said:
the trails are the clemson, or issaqueena, trails. SERC is the race series. ;)
rt
Oh, completely my bad, never knew the real name of the trail system, my sister and bother-in-law just called it the experimental forest, I just assumed that SERC perhaps was the acronym for some "offical" name. :eekster:
 

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Nice pics! I rode those trails all through college, and started riding there again last year when I moved back to the area after being gone for years. Definitely a very cool area - has a little bit of everything. I was surprised to find a dual slalom course and some pretty sick gap jumps had been built way back in the forest. An above average rider could spend the better part of a weekend out there and not ride the same trail twice.
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
tigerrider02 said:
Nice pics! I rode those trails all through college, and started riding there again last year when I moved back to the area after being gone for years. Definitely a very cool area - has a little bit of everything. I was surprised to find a dual slalom course and some pretty sick gap jumps had been built way back in the forest. An above average rider could spend the better part of a weekend out there and not ride the same trail twice.
thanks! but, i have to be honest here - the only picture in the report that was actually taken at Clemson is the 2nd one. the first is from Tsali and the 3rd is from Ft Yargo (in Winder GA).

gotta agree with you about the variety of trail a clemson. even an above average rider can spend a weekend and not ride too many trails twice. :)

rt
 

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*rt* said:
thanks! but, i have to be honest here - the only picture in the report that was actually taken at Clemson is the 2nd one. the first is from Tsali and the 3rd is from Ft Yargo (in Winder GA).

gotta agree with you about the variety of trail a clemson. even an above average rider can spend a weekend and not ride too many trails twice. :)

rt
Here is a pic my wife shot of me during the race. Not as easy to look at as rt, but it is from isaqueena! Of course it is crossing a fire road, so it gives you no idea of how root infested these trails really are.



These trails were really fun! I had forgotten how to ride stuff like that. The trails in ND are a bit more buff. This was the first ever race that I actually found myself looking forward to the fire road climb. Not because I didn't enjoy the single track, I did:thumbsup: , but because I knew that I could pass people.
 
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