Last summer I decided I wanted to do more mountain bike racing in 2009. I've done one MTB race so far, bailed on another. I will likely do the EFTA Bear Brook race this Sunday. I figure the Waterville Valley Time-Trial on Saturday will be a good opener for Bear Brook. Of course, I don't own a TT bike, so I'll be one of the very few there riding cannibal. I placed second in my category last year. I see a couple nemesis signed up I'll never beat if they show up with aero equipment (Petro and Wonsavage, both who've nipped me at the line for separate wins at Bow). All good fun though. Nothing motivates you more than racing against a clock when your result gets publicly posted.
I suppose I do have some "A" race events this year. One is the Vermont 50 mile mountain bike race. I kept pestering Dave Penney about when registration opens, as it fills quickly. Prior year racers like Dave get email heads up. The deal was, I went up to the Kingdom Trails Monday, totally forgetting that registration opened at 7pm that evening. I remembered half-way home when it was already almost 7pm. I freaked. I parked and went straight to my computer. Fortunately my Active.com account still worked. I got the confirmation screen that I was in and was relieved. A few minutes later, I get an email stating that 756 were registered about an hour after it opened. I think normally they shut it down at this level, but the race director was letting another 100 in. The VT 50 does not do waiting lists. They over register the race, knowing a percentage will not make it race day. Very efficient and simple. They sold 850 spots in probably less than two hours. Unbelievable. Mt Washington took about three days to fill this year. The VT 50 is not cheap either at $125.
I last did this the VT50 in 2001, the last year it was an EFTA sanctioned championship series race. It was my first full season racing expert class, and I placed 10th overall. Here's what I logged in my race diary about it:
September 30, 2001. 50 miles with 8100 feet of steep climbing makes this the grand daddy of races in the EFTA series. Had repeat perfect weather of last year – heavy frost on ground but warming to sunny 60 by mid-day. Course was slower this year with more singletrack. Took one nasty wrong turn that cost me at least five minutes. Talked to some riders after the race that were lost for 45 minutes and dropped out of race. Many poorly marked turns and intersections.
I suspect the course is well marked these days. I'd dearly love to improve on my overall finish. There was stiff competition back in the day, and there are a bunch of really fast guys racing it these days. My overall fitness is improved quite a bit I think from 2001. I'm not so sure about hammering five hours off road fitness. All my epic rides have become roadie oriented. I used to do 50+ mile off-road rides all the time. Need to bring those back into the mix, especially if I plan to do the Tahoe-Sierra 100 miler also in September.
These late season endurance events should give me all the motivation (and excuses to the wife) for doing regular epic rides, on and off road this summer. Really looking forward to it.