OH. MAN!! Sunday was such a rad day of gravel thrashing!! I’m still soaking it all up and I didn’t even race. BIG thank you to all who came out and supported this underground backwoods (literally) event for the 3rd year. I fall more and more in love with hosting FOLLYCROSS each year. I believe it was Ms. Brittney Carnell that said (as she was passing for her second lap) “This course is tough! It’s more mental than physical!!” and you’ll find out why below! But before we get to that, here are your FOLLYCROSS 2015 top 3 men’s and women’s:
Here is one of the best write ups I’ve read on a race recap. Jacob Tubbs (Infinity Cycling Team Rider and 4th place winner in this years race) captured the physical and psychological pain that is FOLLYCROSS so well that I asked to share with you fine folks on his behalf. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Follycross 3.DOH! Race Report
“Today was another great edition of FollyCross, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite events of the entire year. In fact, it was the only race I did on my cross bike all 2014. Last year I got in a break with Patty from the gun but wound up flatting midway through the last lap and limping in for 2nd. This year, Infinity showed up en masse, and lots of other strong guys did too, so I knew it probably wasn’t going to be a 2-up break from the start-type deal.
What I did expect was that the race would split right away and a small group of contenders would form early, for a couple reasons: First, there was a lot of firepower in the field and the road is narrow, meaning somebody was going to get caught out and gapped off while the pace was high; second, the first 2 miles of the course are some of the most difficult of the entire race. Even though they are mostly flat, with a slight false flat uphill grind section, there are about a million potholes, some of which are spread almost across the entire road (leaving very few good options around them), and many of which can straight-up swallow a bike wheel / person.A few more words about the course, because the course deserves some special recognition: It’s 3 laps of a beautiful 12-mile loop, as close to dead flat as you’re likely to get in Alabama, and has basically every form of surface imaginable: dirt, sand, grass, mud, clay, gravel, thick gravel, heinous tire-destroying bike-eating gravel, hard-pack gravel over churt, concrete drainages, and super sticky nasty red sandy snot / glue mud. The first few miles are basically WWI artillery-barrage crater fields, then there’s a right turn and a brief respite on hardpack with a few tricky lines, then back onto very soft, sticky, nasty mud with a couple bottomless lake-sized potholes, then a gently rising mud and gravel section with 3 minefields of tire-destroying fist-sized gravel, then a few short twists, more mud, then a long, 3-4 mile blast along the river. Late in the race, this last section would get blasted by a pretty solid 10 mph headwind. There aren’t 100 yards anywhere on the course where you aren’t making some sort of decision – dodging rocks, holes, sticks, sand, mud, etc.
Back to the race: I knew from last year that it’s easier to be in front for the first mile or so, given that in many places there’s only 1 halfway-decent line, and only the guy in front can see it. If you’re behind, you’re desperately trying to see around the guys in front of you, hoping they’re taking good lines, bunnyhopping, shimmying, sliding, or brake-checking at the last second when they’re not, and hanging on for dear life while the pace is ramping up into the mid-20s across mud and sand. It can be pretty uncomfortable when your engine is redlined and you slam into a pothole, spin out, and then have to close down a gap to the guy in front across loose gravel and thick mud.So, as soon as we got rolling good, I lifted the pace to a level that felt painful to me and kept it there for a few minutes. That seemed to string out the group behind, and I could hear from the sound of hard breathing, bikes slamming through potholes, and occasional cursing that it was having some effect. After a couple miles I swung over and saw team Infinity more or less intact: Hunter Garrison, Said Assali, Jamie Alexanderr, and Marcus Campbell were all clustered together, with Sam Sam A Porter, Jeff McCord, and a guy I will call Red Kite Prayer Guy (sorry I don’t know your name RPKG) in tow. Jonathan Crain and 1 or 2 others were also with us but the course and pace immediately started causing attrition, and this group of 8 rode the first 8 or 9 miles at a pretty nasty clip.
If you have ever watched professional road racing, FollyCross plays out like the business end of a one-day spring classic: the course is so selective that you have to be right on the front, riding pretty close to full throttle, just to keep from getting caught behind somebody getting dropped / crashed / etc. There is no sitting on, no resting, and nowhere to hide. With wind, potholes, mud, sticks, grass, and gravel everywhere, there are only a few decent lines, and being out of the good line when the guy in front of you is railing it means you’re going to burn lots of matches to get the wheel back, or you’re going to say goodbye to the front of the race.Two thirds of the way through the first lap this situation was playing itself out according to the Belgian playbook: Jamie, Said and I had all traded a few very hard pulls, everybody was pegged and fighting for position (occasionally with elbows and hips), and the group was hanging together by a string, going basically wide open for as long as it could. That’s a great time to attack, so that’s what Hunter did, slingshotting off of one of Sam’s hard pulls and cracking open a gap across the heaviest mud section of the course. With a guy up the road, Infinity looked to the other guys to respond, and RKPG, Jeff, and Sam lifted the pace. They swapped pulls, then RKPG put in a stinging attack that Said quickly covered as we came into a section of several quick linked turns over loose gravel. I knew those turns give you a chance to get out of sight quickly, so as Said reeled RKPG back, I rolled past Jamie and said “Great time to go if you can.” He could, and ripped through the quick turns and rolled straight up to Hunter before any of the non-Infinities could respond. By the end of the lap, Jamie and Hunter had nearly a minute over the remaining 6, and looked to be gone for good. Perfect: 2 Infinities up the road, 1st and 2nd sewn up, right?
Wrong. There was a lot of racing left, and the course was about to do its thing. As we came through the start / finish turn to begin lap 2, Sam Porter took advantage of the tricky, greasy, potholed mud to launch a wicked, monstrous attack, using the same section I had drilled on lap 1, to put the 6-man group of chasers in a world of hurt. Said drilled it to get across to Sam, and Marcus, Jeff and I stayed in contact, barely. Somewhere in here we lost RKPG, whether due to Sam’s attack or a flat I don’t know. We settled back into a rhythm and a few minutes later saw what was for Infinity a huge bummer — Jamie Alexander, probably our biggest engine in the race, on the side of the road with a flat. He was working to change it but his day was ultimately done. This meant that not only had we lost one of our best options to win the race, we had also left Hunter stranded up the road in in a now-doomed solo move with well over an hour of racing left, on an energy-sapping course with a huge headwind. Suddenly our overwhelmingly good odds weren’t so overwhelming.Jeff and Sam kept the pressure on and kept rotating, and the effect of Sam’s big attack and Jeff’s strong pulls quickly brought Hunter back into view as we got into lap 3. With Hunter in sight the chase was on, and Said, Marcus and I realized we needed to reshuffle the deck. I was riding a skinny-tired hardtail mountain bike, which was terrific on the rough and rowdy stuff but not so great on the windy and exposed backside of the course, and my legs weren’t really responding well to the big efforts, so I knew I’d have to lean on Marcus and Said to take over the race. Said took advantage of a super hard pull by Jeff to launch up the road in the muddy power section of lap 2, and Sam chased hard but couldn’t reel him in. Said bridged up to Hunter and the gap started to go back out, but Hunter was feeling his 20 miles off the front and started slipping off Said’s wheel, making him a big target for Sam and Jeff to chase. If they could get to Hunter, who was now tantalizingly close, they could probably work together to get Said, so Marcus and I had to make sure they didn’t. I was nearly useless by this point, so I looked to Marcus to save our bacon. I could see that Sam was still feeling his big pursuit of Said, so I asked Marcus to hit the gas. Marcus took off and Jeff chased him down. We regrouped, and I saw Sam struggle to close back up to us, so I asked Marcus to go again. This time Marcus immediately got daylight and quickly bridged up to Hunter, who was still dangling in no-man’s land, dying 1000 deaths in the wind, and they promptly got to work prying the gap back open. Jeff flatted somewhere in here, ending his day and leaving Sam the lone remaining non-Infinity in the top 5.
As we rolled into the last 4 miles, the race situation was: Said in front, solo, Marcus and Hunter together about 30-45 seconds back, and then Sam and me another 20 seconds back. Sam dug deep and started reeling Marcus and Hunter in, getting them to within 5 seconds at one point, but the headwind along the river sucked the last of his energy dry and we finished in more or less that order, with me slipping past Sam, cramping in both hamstrings, for a lucky 4th.I can’t end this without giving a hat tip and lots of respect to Sam and Jeff, who kind of ran into a bit of an Infinity buzz saw — outnumbered 4 or 5 to 2 all day — but still raced their guts out and made it a very close, very hard race all the way to the end. I hate to think what might have happened if they’d been able to link up together in the chase during the end-game; unfortunately for Jeff the Tire Fates were against him, giving us some karmic relief for taking Jamie out of the break of the day.
It was a great day for our entire team, with Jennifer Assali and Andie Thompson pulling the 1-2 in the Women’s race and our guys going 1-4. But it was a great day, period — everybody I saw had a huge smile on their face (although I did not see Jamie after his second flat, so maybe have to throw a caveat in there) and all seemed to really enjoy the event.
Matt Pittman, we love FollyCross and can’t wait for FollyCross Number The Fourth. If you put on a race, Infinity’s going to show up. Thanks again — to you, to all the many wonderful volunteers and sponsors, and to our German turbo-diesel Timo Stark who rode the lead pace moto (and maybe rooster-tailed us a few times). Good times had by everybody. Let’s do it again real soon.” – Jacob
This man is a wordsmith to say the least. Folk like himself are one of the many reasons I host this race year after year. So many people dig deep into their pain caves and always come out with a smile on their face.
Here’s a few more fun snaps of said post pain cave fun faces:
Things are looking good this year! Today was one HOT muggy one but I wanted to get out and check up on the good ol’ Wheeler Wildlife Refuge FOLLYCROSS loop for this years FOLLYCROSS 3.DOH! August 30th.
I hope you get the chance to come out, race, heckle, and hang as this will be the Bamacross Season opener. It’s always a light hearted fun time with friends… unless you’re not into that sort of thing…
For more info go check out the event page where you can pick up your “Shredders Admission” in advance.
Last year I hosted this race the weekend before the BAMACROSS series took off. Everyone had a blast and loved stretching their legs over the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge 12 mile loop for 3 laps. I wanted to host it again this year and as I was planning, continually exploring my area for farm lands/refuge sections that are acceptable to race, I came across a second location that was perfect to add on as a second race day.
The new race route was pretty secluded and GPS/Phone service was not present. I’m thankful for all that stuck it out and fought through the poor directions to race Saturdays race. Next year I will make it much less challenging to locate.
With that said, everyone was amped to go dominate new gravel roads! I don’t think anyone at that point had ridden this area. I know very few locally that even knew of the spot we were at… and that was the point. Bring folks out to race the unridden! BAMLast year I hosted one race. This year two. “Consistent x Progressive” is a motto that Kyle and I live by with this thing we call FOLLY. I have no background in race directing and maybe that’s why this was so much fun. There was no pressure or guidelines for the race other than, go out, kill it! and win cool stuff from our very rad sponsors!! I think we ended up raffling off 10 bad ass prizes and that’s after everyone’s podium prizes!
Race results are as follows:
Saturday October 11th Race
1. Chris Edmunds
2. Chad Hubbard
3. Terry Jacks
1. Sarah Schlapman
Sunday October 12th Race
1st Patrick Casey
2nd Jacob Tubbs
3rd Hardwick Gregg
Chrome Industries, CUPPOW, Kammok, State Bicycle Co., No LIfe Like This Life, Gevenalle, Printed Threads, No Garmin No Rules, Grimpeur Bros, Lone Wolf Cycling, Blevins Bicycle Co.
I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out and racing Sunday! This is the first Cyclocross event we have hosted and I gotta say… you guys made it so much cooler than originally imagined. This was a great kick off to the cross season!!
I learned some good lessons for next year (which will most definitely go down). Like, women are way better at tracking time/laps. Men are way better at drinking beer and pointing out the same loose gravel lap after lap.
So much sponsor love!! BIG thank you to Blevins Bicycle Co., Southern Carnage, UPNESS, Chrome Industries, and Lone Wolf Cycling! Everyone was amped on the podium prizes… thank you thank you thank you!!
Here are the Men’s x Women’s Winners
It’s official! September 15th we are throwing a pre-season opener to the cyclocross season! This will be held in the beautiful Wheeler Wildlife Refuge of North Alabama.
Last year I raced in a handful of the BAMAcross series. So much fun! They throw one hell of a good series. With that said, we (North Alabama folk) have to travel further south to attend these races. It really isn’t a big deal, but It was a quandary as to why we didn’t have any races further up in the state. There is so much love here for said cross racing… So, It was time.
Why Wheeler? Why FOLLYCROSS?
Last Fall I was riding a lot in Wheeler with Davis Yarbrough and friends. I fell in love with the area. Davis got amped on our Folly Kit pre-order and sprouted the idea to throw a cyclocross race in our own backyard. He would spearhead the event, we (FOLLY) would be prime sponsors and grab as much sponsor love as we could, local and afar… Well, Davis ended up having other obligations to dominate like the responsible fella that he is, and here we are today… FOLLYCROSS was born!
Yup… we would love to put your fancy logo right up on the flyer above! Why? because you’re cool, we like you and we would love to further promote the radery you’ve been working hard to build!
Who Are Your Current Sponsors?
There you have it folks! I hope you will come out and support, race, drank good drink and mingle with us hooligans. Go to our Event Facebook Page for more information and updates. I promise a good time and a great kick off to the Cyclocross Season! Cheers!
RIDE x CREATE