Impression and Analysis
Fun race, and totally worth doing.
I started in the 2nd wave, about 1.5 minutes behind an unknown group that I suppose comprised the real podium contenders. Probably should have bulled my way up there. It took about 5 minutes to get my heart-rate up to TT pace, or actually a little above, but I had to pick through a lot of riders, and it was reasonably dangerous to pass on the paved sections. Even during the first lap I was worried that I had gone out too hard, which might be true. I did spend most of the race sweeping up riders and riding through them; it was only at the very end that I lost a couple places. In the middle of the second long lap I got into a group with two cross bikes, a single-speed mountain bike and a couple mountain bikes. I think that it actually slowed me down, but I couldn't go hard enough to ride away at that point, but when I stopped pulling, the pace would drop back down. In the end, I got dropped on the final steep uphill section away from the last stream crossing, so maybe I was going too hard after all.
The Garmin trace
confirmed what I could feel in the race. I started to come off the gas on the second lap, about 110 minutes into the race. My heartrate dropped from low 170s to high 160s. It would have been easier to follow wheels at that point. I was pretty bleary for the last 10km, and went to the back of the group when I realized that I was starting to ride beyond the event horizon. The plot also shows that my cadence was really pretty exceptional (for me) for an off-road race.
I drove to the race with my good friend and former training partner, Tom Snyder. I probably went to 100 races with him from '92 until he quit racing in 2001. I hope this means that he's making a comeback, at least for ultracross races.
Tom says that on the first lap, a deer took out the guy directly in front of him. Scary. Link to an awesome video of the wreck
Conditions, Course, and Equipment
The course is two long laps and one short lap of fire roads and bridle paths totaling just under 50 miles in Pocahantas State Park near Richmond, Virginia. No uphill lasts more than a couple minutes, and there are really no climbs of any significance.
The course was definitely muddier than in 2012, though the weather was pretty similar: partly sunny, 40F in the morning, and low-50s by the end of the race. I imagined that the 2013 course was shorter, but Strava says that it was the same course both years.
In 2012 I rode Panaracer T/serv 32s, which have an incised tread, and are basically high-end urban tires. They were treacherous on the twisty sandy sections, but they rolled well on the wide fire roads and the short paved sections. For 2013 I rode Continental Cyclocross Speed 35s at 60psi, based completely on this review. I felt confident in the twisty sections, and I don't think there was any penalty on the road sections.
The Continental Cyclocross Speed (2013)
The Panaracer T/serv 32 (2012)Both years I rode the Fuji Cross Pro, instead of the Litespeed I used for Iron Cross.
- 2013: 3:05:23 71/382 overall and 9/46 in 50+
- 2012: 3:17:33 58/336 overall and 12/50 in 40-49