July 18, 2010
Fair Hill, MD
Conditions: July hot (upper 90s by the finish), dry
In attendance: John Arias, Jay Dodge, Mike Joos, Jeff Dickey, Scott Wilson, Cam Dodge (in a cast from last weekend's broken hand), and Ross Anderson
The Fair Hill July MASS race brings out huge crowds of mountain bikers to ride on the beautiful singletrack trails that the local clubs have worked to maintain. The Fair Hill area is also heavily used by the equestrian set (the start was near a number of active horse barns and the trails had horse route signs all over them). The course was in great shape - mostly dry, smooth and fast singletrack that wound back and forth. At one point in the race, I swore I was getting dizzy from so many left and right turns in quick succession.
This week, though I usually carry my mtb tube in my back jersey pocket, I needed some space to carry a spare water bottle, and so I used my new Simple Strap from Kyle at ByeKyle. The Simple Strap is a very sturdy and secure method of attaching your tube, CO2 inflator, tire levers, etc., to your saddle or frame. Kyle coats the backside of the velcro straps with a sticky substance that, when cinched down, doesn't let anything slip out. I'd never used one before, but they're used by a number of top riders like JHK, Jeremiah Bishop and Georgia Gould. It was easy to attach and I strapped my tube and CO2s to my frame to free up a full jersey pocket. It worked perfectly. I didn't even notice my tube/CO2s during the race (they're usually bouncing around in my pockets) and found them in exactly the same spot as I'd put it on before the event. This coming week, I'm going to try attaching my tube, etc., directly to the saddle rails and see how that works. Here's another link to a review.
Kyle can make custom colors for you if you'd like something specific to match your frame or kit. This is also a nice item to have on your bike if you get into a real fix and need to do some McGyver type repairs to your bike. If you'd like one, send him a note at Kyle@ByeKyle.com
The elite/open field had about 35 starters and the start was on a 2-3 mile prologue in open fields before hitting singletrack. Mike Joos and I got into the singletrack in the top 15 and with a few passes, I worked my way up to 7th. The course had a number of short, steep hills, and I used them to gain a little bit of time on the guys ahead of me.
Eventually, the field sorted itself out and I found myself in 4th place between a group of 3 riders ahead and one or two behind. Wes Shempf caught up to me on some exceptionally winding sections of singletrack and we worked our way up to Chris Beck. The three of us rode together for 15 or 20 minutes until a long, fast downhill where I was leading. I was confused by the course marshal and went straight, instead of a right turn and lost some time on the other two. I used some extra energy to catch back up, but hit a series of long climbs just as I latched back on. I'd done a road race Saturday and cramped badly in the high heat and I could feel my calves starting to lock back up again. As I was trying to stretch out some cramps, I bounced off a tree. That set me back and I wasn't able to catch back up to the two guys ahead of me.
I kept a good high pace to the finish (dodging some horses who had gotten onto the trail) and finished up in 5th place. Some Italian ice at the finish really hit the spot after the race (why don't more races have that at the finish?!). Mike came in 10th in the elite field, just getting pipped at the line by the 9th place rider.
John Arias rode away from his field to convincingly win the 35-39 division. Scottie finished up in 3d in that field, just losing out in a sprint for second place.
Ross Anderson turned in a fast time to place 3d in the always quick 19-34 category.
Jay Dodge survived two 27 mile laps in the 90 degree heat to win the masters endurance category (and finished eighth overall in the endurance category).
After the race, we had a little BBQ under the Scott team tent that we linked up with the Guy's bike shop team. A good way to end the day.
I'd highly recommend going to Fair Hill for next year. It's one large 27 mile loop, has just the right amount of climbing and the trails keep you on your toes with lots of different terrain features, like bridges over the highway, trails along a river, some open fields, and lots and lots of smooth, fast singletrack.
Results from the day are here.