Race Report: MASS XC, Super-D, and Endurance; the Mohican 100; & ESC Enduro.
MASS Endurance: Bearscat 50. Wawayanda State Park. Hewitt, NJ.
Grassroots riders Jon, Wendi, and Mike met up on Sunday for the fourth annual Bearscat Endurance race hosted by Black Bear Cycling. Each class would ride two 25-mile laps of Waway’s finest and rockiest single track, with a few fire roads thrown in. Wendi, a four-year Bearscat veteran, describes the course as one of the hardest endurance races in the Northeast, due to the extremely rocky terrain.
A mass start sent out all 250+ racers at the same time. Jon enjoyed one of his usual strong starts in the Open Men’s class but had to end his bid early after a series of flats and even a new spare tube. Despite the bad luck, Jon was positive about his experience and was impressed by how many passing riders offered him tubes, tools, and assistance.
Mike rode aggressively during his first lap and decided to ride the harder, more technical lines in order to make as many passes as possible. After a blazing first lap, Mike’s legs remained strong but his back was beginning to feel the wear of the rough course. After his chain popped off several times, Mike realized he had broken his derailleur. Persevering none-the-less, Mike completed the race and finished a solid 30th place out of 145 riders in his first Bearscat Endurance event.
Wendi realized in retrospect that she shouldn’t have lined up toward the back on the mass start. Heavy congestion on the first several trails made for extremely slow going. As the race finally began to thin out, Wend was able to find her rhythm and start making passes.
“Little by little, I was slowly able to pass riders and actually then start to feel like I was in my zone. I know these trails so well, so rather than focus on racing, I was just trying to ride my own race. The trails are all amazing, filled with tons of challenging rock gardens, which is what I love.” (Wendi)
Due in part to the mass start, Wendi had no idea what position she was riding until the end of her first lap, when she realized she was riding in third place. After a fast first lap, Wendi decided to slow her pace slightly to conserve energy and avoid bonking. Eventually, three of Wendi’s friends and competitors caught up with her, and the four spent the next leg of the race passing each other back and forth. Wendi finished the race in 6th place, delighted to have survived another Bearscat.
MASS Super-D: PA State Championships at Bear Creek. Macungie, PA.
Amy was more than game for a full weekend of racing at Bear Creek, riding in the Super-D on Saturday and XC on Sunday. Amy’s only previous Super-D experience was at last year’s Nationals at Bear Creek, where she rode a similar but different course:
“This year’s [Super-D] definitely emphasized the Downhill component. The course started at the same location but dropped down the other more rocky gnarly side of the mountain. The track served up several steep descending rock gardens, 5′ rollers, and a 2′ drop.I opted for a full face helmet and pads after both pre-riding and finding out that one of last year’s SD National Champion Runner-ups gave herself a concussion pre-riding it early in the week. I had a solid run with only one serious bucking bronco “YAHOO” in a rock garden.”
Amy, who has been showing remarkable podium consistency, not only won her class but also clocked the second-best overall time for the women.
MASS XC: PA State Championships at Bear Creek. Macungie, PA
Clear skies, relatively low humidity, and temperatures around 80 degrees felt ideal compared to the heat and humidity at last year’s State Championships. Jed arrived early to set up the team tent and fly the standard; soon the tent was milling with antsy riders in Liv and Giant kits.
Amy headed out first to compete in her Cat 2 age group. After previewing the course the day before and testing her nerves on the Super-D (see report above), Amy was confident on the course and led her race from start to finish to take yet another win.
Jake and Lester set off in their Cat 1 age groups to complete a short prologue plus three laps on the amateur course. Similar to last year’s course, each lap would include significant ski-slope climbing as well as the infamous “heckler” section amid the treacherous boulders and tight switchbacks.
After a crash during the sneaky prologue, where unpredictable terrain lay camouflaged beneath tall grass and corners went wishy-wash, Jake struggled to regain his rhythm. At the top of the climb, feeling red-lined, Lester also found himself working to stay focused:
“The take home lesson from this moment in the race: Adrenaline and Panic are a bad combination in rocks. About 30 seconds into the first garden I got off line and caught the front wheel in a hole sending me airborne. When gravity finished with me I came down hard on my left knee and saw my beautiful XTC 27.5 playing pinball on the rocks. I popped up to evaluate the damage to self and machine. Twisted shifters, stem and saddle were compounded by the loss of my trail bell. I made some repairs and tried to soldier on but knew other parts in my bike fit were affected. The remainder of the lap was spent battling the terrain while trying to recover physically and mentally.” (Lester)
Lester mustered himself for a second lap, but as the condition of his bloodied knee continued to deteriorate, he decided to call a DNF at the completion of his second lap. As Jake pressed on for a third lap, Lester got bandaged up and headed over to cheer on Abbey, April, and Andy as they prepared to depart in the Pro/Elite wave.
April was feeling a little hoodwinked, since Andy had convinced her to ride in the Pro/Elite Open instead of her age group, citing a shorter race and less technical trail. In fact, April discovered upon arrival, the Pro course included both the heckler section and several new spirit-breaking uphill climbs. Not to mention the two “drops” which looked conceivable from the bottom but life-threatening from the top.
While Andy sprinted out ahead with the Pro men, Abbey and April lined up apprehensively for their race. A fast lap around the prologue set them up for the long, rocky ascent to the top of the hill.
After two and a half steady laps, April found out what Stan’s sealant tastes like when she punctured her front tire on a rock. As she continued to lose air pressure and became increasingly slimed in sealant, she decided to pull off just before Heckler City to add a blast from her Big Air to help her through the rocky switchbacks. A second blast from the Big Air once she was out on the slopes and her tire was healed for the rest of the race. Other riders in the vicinity were not so lucky, however, and April rode into second position only after passing another racer detained with a flat tire.
Abbey, unfortunately, suffered the worst tire woes of all when, on the the third lap, a giant nail punctured not only her tire but also her rim strip, abruptly ending her race. Andy, zooming past on his penultimate lap, threw a CO2 cartridge to Abbey, but her tire was already as dead as… well, a doornail.
Andy, wearied and cramping after two hot laps and three ensuing laps of (self-proclaimed) declining performance pulled out of the race a lap early to enjoy a less painful life experience and to go for milkshakes with April to celebrate her second-place finish. Andy was placed in 12th since half the field finished a lap early.
Lester’s Current Soundtrack: Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
POC Eastern States Cup Enduro #1 and NY State Championship: Plattekill Bike Park. Roxbury, NY.
Seamus reports on another eventful weekend at Plattekill Mountain:
“Not much to be had for pedaling (which is fine). Lots of rowdy terrain slayed. Unfortunately a dropped chain on stage #2 cost a bit of time… actually a ton of time. And a crash on stage #4 slowed my chances of clawing back those precious seconds that these races are won by. But I felt ok for the most part and keeping the realism that I’m less than 1 year into my enduro/DH endeavor. The racing on the Eastern States Cup circuit is getting some depth to it with 20-30 plus riders in the pro category. It’s certainly a blast to race high caliber events and riders right in the Northeast/Mid Atlantic area.”
Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic Stage Race. Spring Mills, PA
We heard a little from Jess and Joël last week as they were gearing up from the TSE. On Saturday, they completed the seven stage, seven day race after logging 220 miles over about 24 hours of riding time.
“Joël and I rode together the entire time competing as a co-ed duo. There were smiles, there were tears, and there was the occasional disagreement. But doing this together is something we both enjoy and something that we do together as a couple… Both of us have our fair share of cuts and bruises and feel like we could sleep for the next few days straight. Our bikes held up well, the Lust Advanced and Anthem Advanced being the perfect bikes for all the different trail conditions we rode in; fast on the climbs, rolled over the rocks, and nimble through the technical terrain. ProGold kept our bikes clean and shiny with well working drive trains all week and with Stans NoTubes we had no flats.”
Jess and Joël’s commitment and consistent training proved its worth as they won the co-ed duo division and were fourth overall out of all the duos.
Visit Jess and Joël’s blog to watch video from the race and to read descriptions of each of the seven various stages, from dirt road-type racing to an Enduro stage to stages of endless climbing.
National Ultra Endurance Series: Mohican Mountain Bike 100k. Loudonville, OH
Over in Ohio, Jamie decided to ride a “test” ultra endurance race to make sure she was on track for some “bigger” races on her itinerary later in the season. The 100k edition of the Mohican seemed like a great place to start. Six hundred riders lined up in downtown Loudonville for a mass start straight out of town and up a steep climb. After a comfortable start, Jamie found herself standing around in the woods waiting for the bottlenecks to clear.
“About an hour in, we were finally starting to move consistently on some singletrack. As I made a right turn on a switchback, I was almost knocked off my bike by some rider that cut in from behind. It was my friend Chrissy, and she yells back “this is a race where you have to be aggressive with passing.” That lit a fire inside, and I start passing rider after rider. I think that by the time we exited the first 20ish miles of singletrack, I had passed 27 riders. I had a lot more to go, but I was feeling much better just being able to ride somewhat near my race pace. If I do this race next year, I will know to get at the start line super early.”
Jamie continued hopping past riders where she could for the next five hours, taking care to stay fed and hydrated in an effort to avoid quad cramping. At one aid station, she kicked back for a little too long and saw some women pass while she was eating watermelon. Oops! Back on the bike to try to chase them down.
“As far as the terrain, Mohican is crazy fun. It has steep ups and downs, flow/pump track, rocks, roots, and sketchy downhills. It has the perfect split of trail and road. And my Giant Lust was the perfect bike for this terrain. For the first time this year, I really used the suspension to my advantage. On the gravel roads, I locked out and just rocketed up the hills. Especially toward the end of the day. I was amazed at how easily I passed other riders with minimal effort. This bike just wants to GO. And the full suspension just ate up the single track.”
Seven hours, three bee stings, 8,300 feet of elevation gain, and 100k later, Jamie finished happy with her performance and in a dang impressive 6th spot in a field of 24 women. In Jamie’s words, “You just have to get out there and do it.”