First of all, I want to thank Mad River Riders for going ahead and putting on this great event. I'm sorry that permitting took so long that promotion was hard to do, but you guys/gals are first rate! I look forward to there being 10 times the number of participants next year.
As for the event itself: I would call it very physical, with a great blend of techy New England terrain, mixed with some faster flow.
I had never ridden any trails in the Mad River Valley, and was certainly excited to check them out.
The race consisted of two stages. Stage 1 was a mass start that could be run timed or untimed.
I chose the untimed climb, as that is mostly what I expect in an Enduro. This meant that there were two routes, the timed route was all singletrack, the untimed route shared about 50% of this route and the rest was up a steep, loose Class IV road (aka Jeep trail). The jeep trail was a soul crusher, I walked for about 3 minutes up one particular pitch. I arrived at the Stage 2 start about 10 minutes ahead of the first timed climber.
In the future I would prefer the event to stick purely to singletrack (or just a real brief doubletrack) and only offer untimed climbing...perhaps if future events can expand stages, maybe offer a brief climber's prime on a section or trail for a bonus or something.
Stage 2 re-traced Stage 1 (the timed route) in reverse. It was run in typical Enduro/TT format of sending off an individual competitor every 60 seconds.
The start of the run was fairly flat, then had some climbing for about 300 feet of elevation gain. Then there was a fast smooth descent section with some waterbar jumps, stream crossings, and a few rock tables....pretty WFO kinda stuff. Then, it was hard into some tech, fairly tight and rowdy, with a few punchy climbs (very short) with some quick, rough descents. This sort of traversed at the same elevation for a bit, but gradually gave way to longer, and longer descents some of which include some great rock drop/roll-offs. Nothing huge, but tricky enough to make you work hard. The bottom third was fast and flowy...with nice berms and great terrain profiles, it was tempting to really let go here, but the physical drain from the middle third makes it a lot easier to get into an accident...
All told, the stage took me 34 minutes and change....a long, hard-fought second place. The winning time was a shade under 30 minutes. I was pretty pleased considering I was riding the trails sight unseen (minus the sections of overlap on the way up, but the biggest challenges on Stage 2 were on the section I didn't climb).
The Mad River Riders crew really deserves credit, the course was a blast, everything was well marked and organized, and even though the field was small, you guys pulled it off perfectly.
I can't wait to ride your trails again soon, and I am anticipating an even bigger and better Wicked Witch of the East for 2014!
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