|And this wasn't even the worst section!|
This past Sunday I raced in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series endurance event at Pennsylvania's Tuscarora State Park, which was put on by my friend Zack Adams of Fast Forward Racing. Rather than being based off total distance, the race was designated to go for four hours. The race was basically set-up with the same format used in a 24-hour race, where the racer doing the most laps during the allotted time period determines the winner.
The 4-hour race format turned out to be perfect for the race due to the bad weather. The week of weather leading up to the race date was some of the best cycling weather I have ever experienced during the middle of March. It would have been awesome to have had this great weather go into the weekend, but as Murphy’s Law would have it heavy rain arrived the day before the event, which turned the trails into streams of mud and definitely made the course much more difficult than it would have been otherwise.
Each lap was a little over 6 miles in length. The course was comprised of one longer climb at the start and some shorter but steeper climbs through the rest of the course on a mix of single and double track trails. There were some moderate technical sections scattered throughout the race loop, but there was nothing too crazy about the course. I’m sure everything on the course could have been ridden if it was dry. But, with the wet conditions, a couple of the steep climbs on the course were impossible to ride, especially on a singlespeed bike. I really didn’t mind these running sections, though, because it allowed for my body to warm-up a little with the temperature only being at around 50 degrees.
The SS race was lined-up in last starting position with the open men, master men and open women racers ahead of us. With all of these other riders in front of us, I knew the first lap was going to be a tough one and I wanted to be the first SS racer attempting to get by these race groups if I could. With the sound of Zach cracking a whip in the air, our nice-sized pack of singlespeed racers started the moderaterly long and muddy race ahead of us. I had a good start and was able to get and keep the hole shot for the beginning of the race. As it turned out, getting through the other racers on the course was not much of an issue because most of them were kind enough to open up the trail for me and the others.
Montana "Montucky" Miller was sticking right with me during the first lap and part way into the second lap. About part way through the second lap, I looked back because I didn’t hear anyone behind me and I was shocked to see nobody there. I wasn’t sure what happened, but it sure was nice being alone. Since there was nobody else in my class near me, I was able to ride a little more conservatively on the tricky and slick trails. Riding alone also allowed time for me to play in the mud a little during the race, so that I could try different lines on each lap, experiment with my bike handling and change things up a bit.
If given the choice between racing on a dry or muddy course, I will always choose a fast dry one. Not so much because I don’t like riding in the mud, but because I hate doing all the cleaning and bike maintenance that needs to be done after a muddy race. But, I must say that racing in the mud at Tuscarora was a whole lot of fun, even if it did add a lot of extra clean-up time to my life.
I am pretty sure being on my super smooth and fully rigid Salsa Selma Ti SS bike equipped with Stan’s Notubes Crest Wheels is one reason I didn’t mind the mud too much. I had zero issues with my drivetrain and using tubeless wheels with very low air pressure allowed my tires to hook-up on the slick trails very well. I actually started to feel bad during the race for racers I saw riding with full suspension geared bikes because I knew their bike maintenance time would be about double mine. And, I am quite positive all that extra stuff was really not needed for this course anyway.
|Montucky Miller, Me and Dahn Powers|
By the end of the race, I was able to hang on to my lead and take the singlespeed victory. I was a little surprised to also learn that my time was good to give me third place overall after starting almost five minutes behind the other race groups and going through all the extra lap traffic. It was a lot of fun to finally get the mtb racing started and also great to see many of my cycling friends again. I was also very happy with the good start to my endurance mtb racing season because it gave me confirmation that my fitness is on track for this time of the year. Thanks to Zach for putting together a great early season mtb endurance race at an awesome race venue.
Happy Trails - Gerry
Mud – A. E. LandesPodium – Rob Lochner