Blood Rock – Infamous stretch of trail at state park provides challenge for weekend racers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2005

It may be the most exciting stretch of bike trail at Oak Mountain State Park. It’s definitely the most treacherous.

A painted yellow sign warns mountain bikers of Blood Rock, a decline that drops nearly 20 feet in elevation along a narrow, rocky stretch of trail roughly 30 feet long.

&uot;You’ve got that rocky drop off and you’re weaving in between trees. It takes a little skill,&uot; said Faris Malki, a 30-year-old who braved Blood Rock, one of the many challenges facing mountain bikers Sunday at the 11th BUMP and Grind, one of the Southeast’s premier races held at Oak Mountain State Park.

&uot;About halfway down, I kind of peg-legged it,&uot; Malki said. Others had a little more difficulty.

Blood Rock has become a favorite spot for spectators at

BUMP and Grind events.

Some 30 to 40 people make the difficult trek on foot to sit on rocks, hold on to trees or stand on the steep inclines above the obstacle.

Those who successfully navigate Blood Rock are greeted with cheers and applause, while those who aren’t so lucky – or skilled – often take a spill to the sound of sympathetic oohs.

Nearly half of the riders who came through Sunday didn’t even take the chance, opting instead to pick up their bikes and walk through the stretch.

One competitor who has had little difficulty with Blood Rock is professional Jason Sager, who won the Pro/Elite/Semi-Pro Men’s division at Sunday’s race with a two-lap time of 2:11:48.

Sager’s win was his fourth straight and fifth overall at the BUMP and Grind, a race organized by the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) and sanctioned by the National Off-Road Bicycle Association.

Sunday’s races featured more than 50 categories for men and women, from Youth Series and Junior Olympics to Pro/Elite/Semi-Pro divisions.

Shelby County racers finished in the top three in five different categories.

Suzannah Rotenberry of Alabaster won the Youth Series Women division for ages 9-10, and Montevallo’s Sarah Grahovec took the top spot in the Youth Series Women division for ages 7-8.

Zac Epperson of Indian Springs placed second in Jr. Olympics Men 16-and-under, Clay Cleveland of Montevallo finished second in Beginner Senior Men 19-24 and Hardwick Gregg of Helena placed second in Expert Men 45-and-over.

Helena’s Stacey Davis finished third in Sport Master Women 40-and-over