This isn’t going to be a typical race report, where I tell you all about my ride, what I was thinking, feeling, blah blah blah. I’ll just give you the quick recap of my ride, share some other sides of the endurance race scene, try to convince you to give mountain bike racing a try this season.
The Race and Course
This was a 6 and 9 hour race at Ft. Yargo State Park in Winder, GA. You could ride either time, solo, or on a team – whoever does the most laps wins. Final lap finish times are used to determine placing between teams/riders who finish the same number of laps. This race was part of the Chainbuster endurance series, but this one was put on by Dirty Spokes. The course was an 11-mile singletrack loop with a little over 1100ft of climbing per lap. The trails were in perfect race conditions – dry, hard packed, and balls to the wall fast. Honestly, it felt like there was more downhill than uphill. YABA (Yargo Area Bicycle Association) has done a really great job maintaining the trails at Ft. Yargo. The beautiful weather only highlighted the fun trails.
This was my first 9hr race ever. It was also going to be the first 30+ mile ride I’ve done since December. Seems like life and storms have gotten in the way of putting together a decent ride the last few months. It was also the second ride ever on my new (geared!) On-One Scandal. I built it up Tuesday night, took a shake down ride on Thursday, and planned to race 9hrs on Saturday. Sounds like a great plan, right?
Turns out I didn’t have any issues. Legs and taint felt great all day, and the bike was perfect. My nutrition plan however… left something to be desired. After my 3rd lap I drank some Coke, thinking the caffenine would be helpful. I never drank Coke in a race before, and I won’t again. My stomach wasn’t at all happy with me about halfway through my 4th lap. Apparently it was a bad idea to put Coke on top of Gatorade, bananas, PB&J, and more apple cinnamon Hammer Gel than any man should eat. Once I finished up my 5th lap I sat down for a minute to eat a bit, hoping it would settle things down some. It only made things worse – I felt like my stomach was doing barrel rolls. I was seriously worried I’d ralph if I kept going, so I decided I was done for the day. I’d rather stop early and happy than later and sick. 55 miles in just over 6hrs, not a bad day considering. I ended up 10th out of 12 in the 9hr Solo Sport class.
If you’ve never done an endurance race like this, you really need to. It’s a blast – a fun day on your bike with a few hundred of your closest friends. Even if you don’t know anyone there, they’re still your friends – you’ll see. The pit area is full of people, dogs, tents, and crazy nice bikes. If you’re not up to the solo challenge, get a few buddies together and form a team. If you’re in the southeast, check out one of the Dirty Spokes or Chainbuster races – those guys put on top-notch events. In fact, my local club has hired the Dirty Spokes crew to handle the timing for our 13hr Baker’s Dozen this fall.
Things I Saw
You see a lot of things over the course of a six hour ride. Here’s a few things I saw that were noteworthy.
- Someone crashed directly in front of me.
- Someone crashed directly behind me
- A bug of some sort flew into the spokes of my front wheel and pieces of bug came out the other side
- Five guys taking a whiz at the top of a climb
- One guy passed me in a tight and twisty section and carried unbelievable speed through the corners
- One of the kids from Cycle Youth passed me like I was going backwards up a hill with a broken leg. He couldn’t have been much more than 10yrs old. I was impressed, and humbled.
- Lots of people on the side of the trail fixing flats
- A guy passed me on a SS and I noticed his chain looked loose
- Five minutes later I passed the SSer back while he tried to get his chain back on the chainring
- A guy walking with his bike on his shoulder and taco’d front wheel in his left hand. I asked if he was okay, he replied “I’ve been better”
I’m hoping to try my hand at cross country racing in a few weeks, just to see what it’s all about. My next big mile race will likely be Fools Gold 50 mile in August. I’ve got a score to settle with that one after my DNF at last year’s mud fest.
What are you guys racing this year? Going for the win, or just to have fun and see what you’re made of? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
All photos taken by Great Action Portraits, who provided photography coverage for the event.