Racing season is here at Brian Head. We went up at the weekend for the 100 miler and the NORBA National hits town in a few days time. I rode 2 laps on the xc course – a few changes from last year, more on that below.
Brian Head Epic 100 miler. Steve was the racer this time around and I got to take my turn being support crew. Here he is topping out on the course at 11.3k – can you say dizzy?
Conditions were near perfect for the guys near the front. Fast roads and cool conditions. Clouds threatened most of the day but the front runners stayed dry. The 10+ hour riders got slammed with an intense storm that slowed them down.
I helped Steve with his training plan over the last few months and we set up a race pacing and fuel plan. He said he has learned a lot watching and supporting me race ultras so had belief in the plan. He rode super smart and it was cool to see him execute. He finished in 8:19 which is a huge 34 minute PR over his 2004 finish. He started smart in about 15th and eeked his way up to 4th overall by the finish, a mere 8 minutes off the winner who finished in 8:11. After the finish he was wired and psyched – totally jubilant – that’s what we do it for eh?
Brian Head Epic 50 miler. Cris Fox looked like he was on an annihalation mission and had gapped the rest of the field by about 400 yards after the first mile. Sounds like he crushed the race and himself.
Brian Head NORBA Cross Country course. The course is dry – no mud bogs to go through this year. The big change is the last few miles. Due to some new condos, Burts road has been taken out and the course is rerouted along the Mosquito Lane single-track. The trail has been worked on a ton and is soft but fast and flowy. It has a lot of short steep power climbs and is in the trees twisty. Right now it is in great shape but like all new trails, a rain shower and 500 riders will destroy it. Mosquito Lane adds another significant climb and maybe an extra 1.5 miles. It is slower going than Bruts road was, so finish times will be maybe 10 minutes slower than last year. You can’t cruise it either or you’ll be walking up the wee power climbs. Mostly it is wide enough to pass.
Tires: Some of the course is super dry. I rode it on Saturday with a pro xc rider who had on a narrower and rounder profile front tire and was slipping out on the corners. My 2.1 Blue Groove was hooking up nicely in the front but my Ignitor was slipping around in the back.
Pre-riding: This course is a tough one to pre-ride being a big one loop affair. One lap took me 3:15 at cruise pace. Given the altitude factor I’d not want to do that the day before the race. It starts up the paved road then onto a wide dirt road. Once you leave the dirt road there is a mile of double track before the single-track descent down Lowder Ponds. This is mostly flat and fast and has some rocky super loose turns. To get good position on the descent this flat fast section of double track is the key part of the course to get dialed. If you only pre-ride one bit, do this one. There are fast and slow lines through the rocks and sandpits which are not obvious now after the 50 and 100 miler herd has plowed it all up. Drive up to where the double track starts and then ride from there.
It is a fun course and I’d like to be out there doing the marathon again but bad timing – Trans Rockies is on…