Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Patapsco 100 MTB Race Report 2015 - 50km Edition

In my quest to get better for Xterra Worlds in a few weeks time I decided to race the Patapsco 100 hosted by Adventures for the Cure this past Sunday.....no I didn't race the 100 mile version but plumped for the single lap race at 50km (31.4 miles).  After cajoling Ace enough in the past week he joined me on the start line as well.

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.

Broken Spoke Photography / Kelley Dentry Photography: Patapsco 100!  2015 &emdash; Beutiful day for a mountain bike race!
First river crossing
To be honest I had no idea where the trail was going and with good markings you didn't need to have a good knowledge of the trail system. Would I be able to ride the route again from memory? Probably not but I have the GPS course so might be able to work it out.  The trails were awesome though and they had a mix of pretty much everything...rocks, roots,logs, sandy singletrack! As the day went on I was getting much more comfortable technically and the effort level was high. The majority of riders were on full-suspension bikes but my trusty Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail (from Parvilla Cycles) steered me right all day.

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.

Broken Spoke Photography / Kelley Dentry Photography: Patapsco 100!  2015 &emdash; Beutiful day for a mountain bike race!
Just after the 2nd aid station
It worked out that we were sitting in a battle for 4th place with the first three a few minutes up the trail and unlikely to be caught.  Having the three of us was good, for me anyway, as I wanted to push the pace and with about 6 miles left I managed to get a small gap on the other two and wanted to work it hard to the finish.  Ultimately it didn't work out quite as expected as a small mechanical issue with my rear derailleur had me trail side for a few minutes (four to be precise) and despite working hard over the final miles I could only grab back a couple of places for a 6th place finish in the Open Men's race for a final time of 3hrs 12mins.

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?

Pushing it!

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