250 rode for two days of exquisite stuff. Highly recommended.
Here is some footage of the Waterbury VT MTB Festival last Saturday. It's from the "Stowe Epic" including some fantastic bench cut trails and the stuff on the von Trapp estate ( yes, The Sound of Music). A guy named Hardy has done a big chunk of creating the trails and he took us out for a good long 5.5 hrs of saddle time. It was somewhere around 90 degrees - perfect for a 200 oz of H2O summer ride.
Mont Tremblant was quite a scene: a slopeside ski village with a hundred stores, restaurants and bars, merged with a hotel complex. Big. I ventured down to the start finish area and saw some of the mondo-racer types finishing the 58K trail run. The finish area was on the Lac Tremblant beach, after the racers ran straight through the middle of the village. I imagined myself slipping underneath the surface after finishing the next day. The podium was huge, as was the production the promoter pulled off, something well integrated with the local businesses and Mont Tremblant resort. The MTBMind team came together in time for a couple of pics and nervous reassurances before hitting the hay. Our 4:10 am alarm wasn't needed after a night of hooting and hollering out in the street as partiers, well, partied in displays of righteous inebriation on an echoey street. The start was 25K away. Steve's family sleepily carted us to the starting field and before we knew the details, Dan started the race. I am seen here licking magic sleep crusties while poised for pain.Game on. The same silly fast start as a 2 hr XC race blasted away from me. I took up a position alongside Katherine for a bit, hoping to survive what I thought would be 6 to 7 hours of riding, feeling the weight of power bars, tools and tubes straining the fabric of my jersey, pulling the whole jersey back thus effectively strangling me until which time I loosened it to the point where oxygen resumed its flow into my bloodstream and my eyes reopened. The first fields gave way to some nice wooded singletrack over the farmland of Bertrand, president of art glass designer thinkglass.com, and friend of Dan Desrochiers who had built some trails for the heck of it. I came across him twice on the trail as he clicked off some pics that he later sent my way via e-mail - including the promise that he'll race it next year. His trails were tight and had a nice steep flow through lush Quebec woodland. Eventually we came to the second checkpoint and feed station. They were at 10K intervals throughout the race, manned by great support people who'd grab my bike, fill my bottle and offer bananas, PB&Js and boiled potatoes alongside hammer gel. I opted to carry one bottle and refill it at every checkpoint, which worked perfectly except for the 7th and 8th checkpoints which seemed VERY far from one another, but maybe it was becasue of the something thousand feet of climbing in between. At around 40K I rode up on Steve S and we pedalled for the next 25-30K or so with James, who eventually finished third in the three day full solo event. The guy can ride and after two days of killing himself, eventually rode away from Steve and I when we got to the 5K backside climb of Mont Tremblant. The climb was after what I guess was 5 hours of riding and in 80 degree heat, up a fireroad in the sun. Unlike the race's previous sensations, walking parts of the mountain was friggin' demoralizing except that when I reached the halfway point, Tyler Merritt was laid out on a chairlift seat, regrouping or sleeping or cursing but definitely not moved forward. Someone had it worse off than I, which gave me momentary relief until the road once again turned upward after a short descent. Like Steve, I rode the last supersteep to the applause of 20 or so spectators, hoping that my show of force didn't cost me in cramps later. As I crested and rode to the aid station, a gentleman official informed me there was only 26 K to go. It seemed impossible. I just didn't want to accept it, but there's nothing better than riding to get to the finish and that I did, down down down the white knuckle super fast hiking trail thinking "is this sucker ever going end?"- I could hardly feel my hands but for the dull ache. At one point I stalled out and flopped sideways while waiting for a guy to extricate himself from some blowdown trailside. I didn't clip out and the torque on left leg sent it's hamstring into a cramp. Oh! So there's the cramping... It only reappeared once while walking up the next fire road climb for an instant, which I poured water and electrolyte tabs over. One tab for each bottle was my strategy and it worked fine. Somewhere along the way I ran out and I copped some water from Bob, another hardcore full solo racer and threaded my way through more hillside bridge-laden trail. The last 5 K was simply nonsense. It was fresh cut super twisty that would be fun fresh, but sucked tired, 'cept for the lovely cascading waterfall. After finishing I realized I hike-a-biked it during the eight hour of the race, hence the uniformly applied distinction as "sucky." At the end of it, there was a super steep descent over some ledges slopeside which I ripped in order the distance myself from an anonymous road racer. It was a surge to feel the end coming and soon I flew down the main street lined with tourists spectating and yelling encouragements at the curiosity. The end in sight, I spread my arms and relaxed after nine hours of saddle time and no flats. I dropped my bike, shoes, jersey et al and waded into the water where I immmersed myself, plunging into the underwater world of the lake. The lack of flats during this race was significant for me, having succumbed to the Pinnadebacle a week earlier. Research shows that my method, and this is double secret, to prevent flats is 1. freak out over a Stan's No Tubes slow leak a few days before the race, putting off my wrench who sees No Tubes as "an experiment", 2. carrying one tube in my jersey and another taped to the seatube, and 3. also carrying three 16oz CO2 cartridges, none of which were used in any way except as sweet resistance training weight. And I mean really sweeeet. Works purrfectly. I finished 18th in 9:04 or 8:53 depending on which results are referenced and with a very big smile across my face as first old guy of a not so huge field of 3. Meh. After the swim, Steve rolled in and before long, Ernie and then Eric crossed the finish. Katherine, kept the suspense high, arriving as the most happy finisher at 13 hours. MTBMIND got it done that day and I'm still experiencing a solid sense of satisfaction. Speaking of satisfaction, Paul Simoes, oft-relegated-to-second-place demi-god, pulled out all the stops, riding in harmony with the course in 7:40to win by more than 20 minutes. Paul had an awesome race performance and looked fresh on the podium after a brutal day on the trails. P.S. If you are or were a Wayne's World fan, you will have noticed the references to my costume theme, something that was lost on, well, pretty much everyone who saw me. As Garth Algar, I'm sure I rocked the biking world, or definitely something really cool like that, like what Wayne would do if he was... king... of the biking guys... riding bikes... on mountains. Costumes afford anonymity, which I put to good work while staring straight into the face of a unsuspecting, shapely 20 year old race administrator saying "Woah, you're Babelicious. If you were President, you'd be Baberaham Lincoln." BTW, I didn't win the $500 costume contest. A three day full solo guy with a red arrow mohawk did, a costume which we'd best be quick to employ next year.