July 22, 2013

Race Report - Michaux Endurance Series - Curse of Dark Hollow - 2013

July 21, 2013
Curse of Dark Hollow - 40 Mile Race
Riders: Mike, Jeff
Location: Rocks of central PA
Conditions: Humid, hot, buggy
Result: Jeff, 4th (senior); Mike, 6th (senior)

Mike and I headed to the rocks of Michaux State Forest outside Gettysburg, PA this past weekend for some rock riding at the 40 mile Curse of Dark Hollow.  I'd never been to Michaux before, but it was relatively close to DC and the longer distance format was better for me than going to the US National Championships this weekend and getting pulled in the costly XC event due to the 80% rule given the limited to no training I'd done since early June (wedding and honeymoon).

After an early morning start with a solid waffle/bacon breakfast, I picked up Mike and we headed north.  We got a bit lost trying to find the race venue, but arrived with plenty of time to register and drop off our bags of items that were going to be transported to the aid station at mile 20.

Getting ready for some rocks
The race had the feel of some good-old-time mountain bike racing.  Low key vibe, moto-leaders, good food and beer after the race, a t-shirt for entrants and a hard, hard course.  These are the things that make races great!

Race venue - very low key!
The day was very humid and promised to be hot.  Having not ridden my mtb on any technical terrain since mid-June at the Massanutten Hoo-Ha, I was a bit worried that 40 miles was going to take me a long, long, long time to finish.

I rode my full suspension carbon 29er Spark. It took the edge off some of the punishment the rocks gave out and made it thought the day unscathed. Mike rode his Scale (hartail) with some big Continental X-King 2.4” tires on some wide rim Stan's Flow wheels. The large tire volume added suspension and grip on the rocks and roots.

The 2.2 X-King on the left and the much, much bigger 2.4 X-King on the right
I started out on the first descent well and got into a line of fast riders in around 4th place.  On the first hard climb, we four separated ourselves from the rest of the field, and on the first hard section of rocks, the first three riders separated themselves from me.  I would ride most of the rest of the day on my own.

The trails were somewhat like the Frederick 'Shed.  Loamy soil with rock after rock, all sharp and waiting to destroy your tires, bike and body with a wrong move. But, there were some very fast, and smooth descents (one came about 10-15 miles into the race - an eye blurring rip through the trees) and a bunch of hard packed fire roads.

I was starting to catch up to third place, Brandon Draugelis, one one of the longer fire-road climbs, when my front Conti X-King Protection tire went flat.  It was the first flat I've gotten on one of these tires in two years of beating on them.  The Michaux rocks had put a huge slice in the sidewall.

Luckily, I had a tube of rubberized super glue (this Loctite stuff is great), shoved a ton of glue into the large hole that the Stan's sealant wasn't filling, turned the hole to the bottom of the tire, shook it to get some sealant into the glue and hit it with a CO2.  It held air, and I rode off. (The tire is still holding air today.)

Glue plus Stan's patch worked and kept my tire inflated and running tubeless
One rider, Colin Becker, passed me when I was fixing my tire, and I'd work to catch him for the next 2 hours.  I did finally catch up to him on a long climb, just before we went into what's tagged on Strava as the "Bombing Mad Scientist" descent, where the Michaux Off-Road weekend's Super-D was held earlier in the season.  I lost Colin's wheel when I clipped my bar on a tree at high speed, sending me shoulder first into another tree which stopped me dead.  I took a minute to assess as I was sure I'd dislocated my shoulder (my hand was completely numb and I couldn't feel the handlebars).  I felt it was in place and gingerly set off again.  Later, I found that my new wedding band had taken a big chunk out of my finger (time to stop riding with it on).

I nearly caught Colin while climbing the next section of road, but he was well out of sight on the last long section of singletrack.

The final section of singletrack incorporated a crazy sliding descent into a stream.  I had just about run out of steam at this point, and the hike-a-bike out of the stream valley thereafter finished me off.  I trickled into the finish for 4th in the Senior category and 5th overall (a singlespeed guy went by me in a rock field at light speed - he was flying!!).

Mike came in just a bit later for 6th in the Senior category.

Instant results were available

The race illustration. I believe this is a metaphor for the race... get through the challenge and you're rewarded with pain and some food (a free meal ticket came with the entree fee -- no cup cakes though)

Following the race was lunch and beer on the grass.  A perfect way to end a tough day of bashing through the rocks!

Here's the data from Strava:

In addition to Scott Bicycles, we'd like to thank our other sponsors of the team -- these folks keep us going! 

  • Continental Tires - Tires that can handle a ton of abuse
  • Optic Nerve - Sunglasses -- Colorado to the Core
  • Limar Helmets - The lightest and most comfortable helmets in the world
  • Fizik Saddles - Comfortable and light and fit to your body flexibility type
  • ESI Grips - Hands down the most comfortable grips int he world
  • Zevlin - Makers of fine chamois cream, body care products for cyclists and handlebar tape
  • Yokozuna - Ultrapremium shift cables
  • Lifeproof - iPhone, iPad and iPod cases that are waterproof, shock proof, dust proof and snow proof, plus the accessories to take your device to the extreme.
  • Stan's NoTubes - Tubeless wheels and systems
  • Stuffitts - Portable drying solutions to keep your cycling gear dry and smelling good
  • Dumonde Tech - Eco Friendly and High Performance lubricants
  • The Parts Shoppe - Ceramic bottom brackets, pulleys, bearings and ultra low friction grease
  • Medilast - Compression gear for athletes
  • VeloInk - Custom graphics for your bike
  • Polar Bottle - Keeping your liquids hot or cold
  • Strava - Tracking rides and competing against friends
  • The Sufferfest - Training videos to kick our asses today so we can beat yours tomorrow!
  • Wolftooth Components - Drop-stop chainrings to keep you focused on pedaling, rather than dropped chains

- Jeff

1 comment:

  1. Jeff - Keep the ring on it was an accident. It makes a difference with it on when you're really suffering and gives reason\inspiration as to why you put yourself through all the pain! :)