The race was being used for two things 1) a race pace effort for fitness and technical skills and 2) learn the trails in the northern section of Patapsco State Park. It nailed both those things!
Going into the race I had no expectations, no real plan and no idea what the terrain would be like. This was my first MTB race since way back in 2003 before we moved to the USA. As such we lined up with the goal to have fun and enjoy the trails! The first short section was on road and it enabled us not to be caught behind many as we entered the first section of singletrack. The first few miles were probably the most technical as it followed the river and not having been on the bike all week I felt technically rusty (as I always do to start with). Luckily progression was pretty slow through these miles and even some dabbing didn't lose any ground. We went through the first river crossing with a few cries of "My New Shoes!" from Ace and then the field began to separate enabling the speed to eek up and settle into a decent rhythm.
|First river crossing|
At about mile 10 after a couple of miles of hard effort I latched onto a couple of 50km riders that were riding a solid pace and we pretty much stuck together for the rest of the race. The nice thing about the 50km race is that it is long effort to fatigue you but also short enough to allow you to push the pace the entire time. My average HR was in the low 150's which for me is a good tempo pace and gave me that race pace test I was looking for.
|Just after the 2nd aid station|
|The singletrack of Ptap!|
I certainly exceeded my expectations and had so much fun in doing so. Ace ended a few minutes behind me in 3hrs 17mins and took 3rd in the 50+ division. It was definitely one of the funnest races this year and gave me the ideal workout heading into the final few weeks of Xterra preparation. Over the 50km there was 3,500ft of climbing! This race will definitely be on the calendar for 2016....but should I do the 50km, 100km or 100mile?