Race Report: H2H Spring Cleaning and MASS Iron Hill Challenge
Last weekend was a mudbath for Giant Northeast riders in New Jersey and Delaware.
Jamis H2H Spring Cleaning XC at Wawayanda State Park; Vernon, NJ
Abbey, Wendi, and Mike were all looking forward to racing on familiar turf at Wawayanda, despite the recent rain and resulting mud. Mike, who was itching to put in a solid race on the rocks, had to end his race early with a frustrating DNF after multiple flats. Ever the sportsman, Mike put his troubles aside and focused instead on supporting Wendi and Abbey during their races.
“I always love doing H2H races. This was the first mountain bike series that I ever raced and have made many good friends who race in this series… This year’s course was much different than the one I had raced previously. It was a great course with a lot of great rock gardens, climbs, and of course mud!”
Long, 8.5-mile laps on rocky, muddy terrain meant Abbey and Wendi had to focus on pacing themselves and saving some energy for the end. Abbey took the lead on her first lap, but decided to slow down, relax, and try to ride more smoothly for her second and third laps. Her tactics worked, and she crossed the line to win in the Pro field with a fifteen-minute lead.
Wendi was also pleased with her fast first lap, which placed her third overall in the combined Pro/Cat 1 women, but realized that she, too, would need to slow down and pace herself for a longer-than-usual race:
“The women I was racing with were all so nice and supportive of one another, encouraging each other and making really nice passes. I began losing a couple spots, but finished nice and muddy in third for the cat 1 19-39 class. When I came to the finish line, Abbey and Mike were there cheering me on… Abbey had a strong, fast finish and it’s an inspiration to see what can be accomplished with the right training.”
Mid-Atlantic Super Series: Iron Hill Challenge; Newark, DE.
Jed, Jordan, Lester, Andy, Jake, April, Amy, Jess, and Joël arrived ready to take on whatever the morning served up. Wet trails, slimy roots, a few mud pits (okay, a bunch of mud pits), and one hard-packed Mega-Dip were all on on the menu.
“Some may have thought it was bad luck to race on some wet trails, but I find the experience refreshing. We are mountain bikers, the postmen of the cycling world. We race in rain, sleet, snow, or ice (unless it’s super steep and sketchy, then we walk a bit), to deliver the Braaaaap to those in need.” (Jordan)
Lester and Andy arrived ready for big rocks and gnarly roots after competing in road races in Virginia and Pennsylvania the day before, while Jordan was feeling unusually aligned after a recent visit to the chiropractor. After abbreviated warm-ups, the Pro and Cat 1 XC and Endurance riders headed off to a soggy meadow for the start of the race.
Pro men Jordan, Jed, and Andy started in the first wave at 9am sharp. Jordan had a swift start and headed into the woods feeling comfy in the lead group. Cat 1 19-39 racers Jake and Lester started moments later, with Jake sprinting into the woods in top five. Endurance riders Jess and Joël were next to hit the trail, camel-backed and psyched for four-plus hours of mudslinging.
Lester, though unfamiliar with the trails, was able to keep up pace and turn in a solid first lap. Heading out on lap two, Lester realized he had a pinch flat. After a quick tube change, Lester was soon back on the attack chasing down other riders.
Jordan cruised through laps one and two and was able to maintain a solid fifth place finish despite losing some momentum in the third lap when he began thinking about his next chiropractor appointment. Andy was dismayed to lose a spot on the last climb, but pushed hard to the line and finished in eighth.
As the Pro/Cat 1 riders finished their races, Cat 2 racers April and Amy headed down to the starting meadow. April fretted on the start-line about whether or not she could ride the Mega-Dip, which she’d heard about but never seen. What was Andy’s advice? “You won’t be able to see anything, but drop in on the left so you have enough momentum. Go up on the right, or you’ll get stuck on the roots. Whatever you do, don’t use your brakes. If you use your brakes, it’s OVER.”
As the Cat 2 women pulled up to the line, April noticed Amy didn’t have her race number fixed to her handlebars. Amy peeled off to the parking lot while the volunteers held back the start just long enough for her to return. A valiant bystander helped Amy to attach her number, and the start whistle sounded just as Amy clipped in. Two hard laps later, April solidified the U40 win while Amy took the 40+ win.
Where were Jess and Joël? After more than four hours on course, Jess turned in six laps in the stacked Endurance Women category for an impressive second place finish, while Joël completed seven laps for an equally impressive sixth-place finish in a large men’s field. Both riders flashed wide smiles on every lap (they really do love riding their bikes).
Current Soundtrack, submitted by Lester: Liege Bastogne Liege – Spring Classics in Europe
Read the rest of Jess and Joël’s race report and watch a video of Iron Hill Challenge on their blog.