A blog post about Bearscat50 was requested by the Most Interesting Man in the World and who am I to deny him?
Preparation for Bearscat had gone as well as could be expected, intel was gathered, equipment had been tested. I had done my homework, and was ready to go.
So I went to the fair.
Got up bright and early the next morning, ate breakfast and headed out for the first race; getting to the park before they started charging admission was the first race of the day as my GPS continually updated my arrival time (made it with minutes to spare!).
Taking my bike off the rack, the tires felt questionably soft, reaching for my pump I found this:
Warming up on the road and a little bit of the course, I think the tires aren't too bad, maybe a little bouncy, but sure beats a flat. Getting back to the car, I realize I never cinched down my strap after removing my mini pump and now am missing my spare tube...and I don't have another in the car (you owe me Tyler!!!). Fortunately Brian Kelly was well prepared and had a spare spare I could carry for the race.
Staging is on the honor system; you line up according to how long you think it will take you to finish. Most of the singlespeeders line up together at the front of the second group.
The race starts with a prologue. First paved road neutral start, then dirt road, and then into the actual race course. I'm feeling great! Up near the front, keeping the leaders in sight...then we get to the course.
I'm bouncing and sliding off of everything! I keep on unintentionally employing the CCB™ and offer to pull aside for the affected riders, Everyone is super cool and encouraging telling me I'm doing great and lead the way.
After a couple more sections of that nonsense, I decide I'd rather risk flatting then continuing to play tire v. rock and root pinball, so I pull over to let some air out of my tires. Again the outpouring of support from my fellow riders is heartwarming as they go by.
Going again, things are somewhat better, I probably reduced my tire pressure to @ 25 psi. I'm still bouncing and slipping a lot, but it's really rocky, rooty, and the mist has added a slime factor to the equation.
I begin to reel back in some of the riders that passed me.
Have I mentioned the rocks?
Wawayanda is no joke.
We have rocky trails in CT.
We have rooty trails in CT.
We have loamy trails in CT.
Wawayanda is a relentless combination of the three. Lubricated with a misty morning makes it one of the most challenging race courses I have ridden.
A fellow singlespeeder, David Boyce, catches me in the singletrack and I let him pass. I feel I can go a little faster and pass him back. We get to a fireroad climb and he powers strongly away.
Coming into "the Rock Bowl", I'm greeted by hecklers, the Northeast's power couple, Joc and Monte.
They snapped this picture. Looks like I'm having fun...
Finally at almost mile 20, the aid station. I don't stop, but shortly after I drop my bottle (Doh!).
So if the aid station is at almost 20, how much longer is the lap?
Mile 25 comes and goes, hmm.
When I finally breakout of the woods onto the road to the start/finish line it starts to actually rain.
Spinning a 34/20 on the road in the rain is giving me a chill.
When I cross the line, I'm at almost mile 29.
how many more miles?
My warm, dry car is right there...but so are Monte and Jocelyn.
I decide to collect myself, eat a PBJ, and put on a jacket.
At 3:02 into the race I grab two bottles and head out for lap 2.
I've decided I like lap 2s. They seem to go by faster. I'm more fatigued but I'm riding better, cleaning more sections. I catch a few age grouper, but primarily am riding by myself.
When I get to the aid station, a volunteers shouts out encouragement "your almost done!". No I'm not; I've got almost 10 more miles!
I keep my eyes peeled for my water bottle, I see it about 500m out, stop and shove it in my jersey pocket; they don't grow on trees you know.
The last leg goes well. I've reached my fatigue plateau, holding steady.
Getting out to the road with no one in front or behind me.
Spinning the first slightly downhill section a geared rider has come out of the woods and has me in his sights. In a measure of totally irrelevant pride I put my head down, and spin madly to get to the final climb holding him off.
Mining through the numbers, that puts me 17th overall. If I had raced my age group, I would have finished 2nd...unless the 3 other singlespeeders over 45 who finished in front of me raced age group too!
Bearscat 50 is the toughest course of any length I have ridden. The thought of doing two laps at Landmine seemed ludicrous to me, but after Bearscat 50; piece of cake. Bearscat makes VT50 seem like a charity event ride.
Can't wait for next year!