On Sunday, April 6, several hundred cyclists congregated as Alafia State Park near Tampa, Florida, to get hot, sweaty, scratched, and dirty—and to raise money for the Friends of Alafia nonprofit, which helps keep the state park a pleasant place to visit.
Red Trail Racing has been organizing the Alafia Classic, a six-hour mountain bike race over the trails which loop through the park, since 2011. Riders are divided into eleven classes, riding solo or in three-rider teams at various experience levels.
Riders could opt for the eight-mile “Easy” loop, which was merely exhausting, or the ten-mile “Hard” course, which was dangerously steep.
With mountain-bike endurance racing, “racing” has its own meaning. Riders aren’t fighting for position lap after lap; most riders are trying to find the limit between exertion and exhaustion which will let them finish as many laps as possible. The main prize is the experience, though the fastest riders can pick up some cash prizes.
The race attracted riders across a wide range of ages. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The race starts with riders running to their bikes before hitting the tough trails. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The Hard course featured steep drops like this. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
After plummeting down a drop, riders would have to struggle up an equally steep ascent to the top of the next hill. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
Tough trails and good fun can go hand in hand. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
This gentleman is obviously enjoying the wonderful scenery. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
Sometimes the best way over an obstacle is literally over it, both wheels off the ground. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
Riders in the Alafia Classic tested their limits around several miles of challenging trails to raise funds for Friends of Alafia. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The park offers a variety of scenery, all of it pretty wild. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
A rider emerges from the forest into a glade of ferns—from the focused look on his face, he barely notices the scenery. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
The ladies rode the same trails as the men, and with just as much abandon. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)
This team did win its class, but it would be hard to convince anyone that winning was their primary motivation. (Chris Jasurek/Epoch Times)