Monday, January 23, 2017

Moosebrook 2017

The Moosebrook Fat Bike Race is the (as far as I know) original single track fat bike race in New England.  They do a superb job each year packing out 5-ish miles of ripping single track for our bike racing pleasure.  As is always the case with winter riding, conditions can be fickle.  Over the previous years we've seen brutal cold (below 0), cold with blistering winds and maybe one year when things were relatively comfy but there was never a year when ma nature threw a precip curve ball at them by dumping snow or rain or whatever leading up to the race which meant that conditions were always pretty close to primo.  That was then, this is now.

This year, conditions were not cooperating.  They had a good base and some well packed trails until a little over a week before race day and then things went to shit.  First, a bunch of warm weather and rain and then, a few days before the race they got several inches of fresh powder.  A course re-design was in order.  some quick regiggering and they had a course that seemed like it would hold up.  Fingers crossed...

Race day. I got there uber early so that I could hopefully do a full loop to see what conditions would be like and to set tire pressures.  Unfortunately, because of the course change, I couldn't figure out where to go or what direction so, instead, I rode as much course as I could in the direction I thought we would be going.  I was happy to see that, while the conditions were tricky, it seemed like almost everything was rideable but there would definitely be some running involved.

Race start.  For once, I was ready and snagged a front row start position so I wouldn't see the leaders disappear in the distance like years past.  When the gun went off, it was a full on sprint up the lead out snowmobile trail and I ducked into the woods in 4th, behind Mike Rowell, Garth Schwallenbach and Brian Oickle my best ever start here.  Most of the single track in the first half of the course was pretty good (even though I road ALL OF IT the wrong was in my pre-ride).  I had my buddy Brian riding just in front of me in 3rd and teammate Ryan just behind me in 5th.

Somewhere in the opening few miles, Brian bobbled in the single track and I was able to slip by.  That was shortly followed by a long-ish snowmo trail climb.  Sadly, of the three of us, I'm the worst climber so Ryan slipped by me and entered the second half of the single track in 3rd.  The second half of the course had some seriously dicey downhill S.T. but finished with some super firm track in an evergreen forest that put a smile on your face.

When we entered lap 2, we hit a section of S.T. that was skipped in the first lap so that the field could spread out.  Thank god we did.  With temps in the mid-30's this section was already tough to ride even before 100 fat bikes had been over it.  This would become the section with the most running.

Up until this point, I was following Ryan rather comfortably but found that I could run faster than him so, just before we hit the snowmo climb again, I put in a dig, passed him and drilled it through the next section of trail.  and, by god, it worked!  I gapped him nicely but, like I said, he's a better climber so he just rolled on past me towards the top of the climb.  Hmm, how was I going to get away from him?

The rest of lap two and three saw us jokey back and forth between 3rd and 4th.  considering how hard the conditions were getting (slushy ice ruts and literal single tire width wide tracks to ride in many areas) we were somehow having fun.  Unfortunately, we hadn't seen 1st or 2nd in a while so we knew we were fighting for the last podium position.

Last lap.  Ryan was leading me but I took over 3rd in one of the running sections.  At this point, remounting your bike was a gamble unless you knew that you could stay on for more than a couple of minutes so I made a strategic decision to run ALMOST EVERYTHING until we got to the firmer sections.  No gambles, just head down suffering.  The strategery worked and by the time I got to the snowmo climb, Ryan was nowhere in sight so, after another 15-ish minutes of  single leg butt pucker downhills, I rolled across the line in 3rd.  Mike Rowell took the win with Gareth in second.  Finally a Moosebrook podium.

Many thanks to and Kona Bikes for the
awesome gear and support.