Nova Marathon course beta

There have been some requests for beta on the Nova Marathon course.  A course map is at the bottom of this page, for both the XC and Marathon events. 

Last night I rode 3 laps of the course.  It took about an hour each 14 mile lap; the race is 5 laps.  The course is note the same as last years course.  This year, the course is comprised of all 3 competitive track loops at McDowell Mtn park in this order – sport, expert, long.   If you’ve raced Nova before, the TT is the long loop.  The expert and sport loops are typically part of the XC course, as well as the long loop. 

It will be an exercise in hydration and concentration.  It’s non-stop singletrack, twisty, rolling, and pretty darn buffed out by the recent rains.  Some of the turns are a touch sandy/loose (but not much), and the back of the long loop has a mile or two of rocky terrain.  There are a few power climbs (30s-1min) on the long loop, an opening big ring climb on the sport loop (about 2.5 min), and a ~2.5 min climb on the first part of the expert loop.  It’s never really flat or straight though, lots of rolling terrain. 

If I had unlimited bikes to choose from, my preference would be

  1. 26″ FS
  2. 29″ HT
  3. 29″ FS
  4. 26″ HT  

Obviously I don’t like hard tails…but if I was riding one the 29er would be a lot nicer on the rocky backside of the long loop.  Overall though, the course is just twisty enough to favor the 26″ for me, but if I only had hard tails it’d be a 29er.

Last year folks were dying in this race.  It gets hot here in late March.  The forecast is low 80’s, humidity will be low, and with a 10am start we’ll be riding till 3pm or so, right through the heat of the day.  It’s hard not to ride this course like a short XC race, it’s also hard to get bottle to mouth…and this year’s course will be much more challenging than last years.  15 loops!  Bring dramamine, good gloves, ice-filled water bottles, and maybe even a camelback.

Here’s a link to the pre-ride power file.

See ya next week!