Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All you ever wanted to know about the Ohiopyle Super-D

I've felt a like a politician when answering questions about the Super-D. I've been trying to convince two groups of people that the race will be cool: "yes shredder of the gnar, the course will be gnarly enough for you!" and "no xc racer, the course will not be so gnarly that you break your face into a thousand pieces."

So to clear up any uncertainties, here's the straight dope, as it were.

-The course is about 8 miles, with 1700 feet of descending. You will be bussed up to the start.

-Your AM bike will be fine.

-Your XC race bike will be fine (hardtail or full suspension.)

-Your fully rigid single speed will be extremely slow and uncomfortable, but you could pick your way down the course if you were really wanted to.

-You will probably have to walk your unicycle.

-You do not need to wear body armor, nor do you need to wear lycra.

The race can be split into two halves. The trail-loop on top of the mountain, and the downhill section back to town. The finish is in town. Your cheering fans don't have to walk more than two blocks from the ice cream shop. It'll be neat.

The loop up top, McCune trail, is rocky and technical. It's similar to Big Bear, the 7 Springs XC course, Laurel Mountain, or Moraine. It should take 15 to 25 minutes.

The downhill section will be as hard as you make it. Although it's longer, it's no more technical than a hard descent in an XC race in our area. However, unlike an XC race, you can't ride conservatively down the hill and expect to make up time somewhere else.

If you want to win this race, you'll have to ride hard and take lots of chances. There are water bars, big rocks, and all sorts of other things that will make you crash if you're going too fast. I bit it and killed my front wheel while shooting a video of the course, and I know this trail like I know the hair on my big toe.

The leaves are down and the trail will be wet, so even if you're the Supreme God Of Descending, it's going to be hairy going down the mountain at speed. If you go slow, it won't be so bad.

There are three optional sections on the course. The first is a ramp that launches you down a steep grassy hill. It's about 4 feet off the ground at the end, and you can be in the air for a long time if you hit it fast. The second is a drop into some pointy rocks. The third is a rocky chute (which I crashed in. there's a good line, and a line that makes you crash.)

Each obstacle has a go around, and taking the easy lines will add up to a four minute penalty for the whole course.

You can't do a 'cross dismount then jump down an obstacle it. We'll have to figure out a time penalty for anybody who does that. 'Cross racing types should understand a rule like that. After all, you can't win the Dirty Dozen by running up a hill. You gotta ride it.

If you've never ridden off a ramp before, don't pick the day of the race to try it. If you do, you'll probably hurt yourself. If you're a DH racer and used to hucking off garage roofs, you may be disappointed to learn that these obstacles aren't big enough to break both your legs and compress your spine. It ain't Crankworx. 

An XC race bike will probably be about the same speed as a 5 or 6" AM bike.

If Cyclocross is a race where roadies and XC guys can compete with each other, then a Super-D is one where XC racers and DH racers can race against each other.

If you race XC, you'll be challenged by going all out on the downhill. If you race DH, you'll be challenged by pinning it and pedaling hard for 40 minutes. Either way, you'll have a good time. Racing mountain bikes is fun.

And if you want to make a weekend out of it, there's a 'cross race Saturday, and a DH race later on Sunday afternoon. Both are about 30 minutes from Ohiopyle. There are a ton of camping spots around town, and good food and beer at the Falls City Pub.

We're running shuttles from the Wilderness Voyageurs store on Saturday. $10 for three rides to the top of the mountain.

Practicing is a good idea. You don't want this to happen to you:
The thwacking sound is my freshly rebuilt wheel hitting my fork. I guess I'm going to have to bother the nice fellas at Industry 9 to fix it again.

Here's the race website:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ohiopyle Super-D

I'm going to get to that last Pisgah post, but first I've gotta put up the Go Pro Bro video of the Ohiopyle Super-D course. The race is this Sunday, and we're doing practice runs on Saturday with shuttle rides to the top of the mountain. Registration is at the Wilderness Voyageurs store.

Here's the second half of the course, with an excellent demonstration of the wrong line through the final rock garden.
More info on the race here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pisgah Stage Race 2011: Stage 4

We're cruising up a double track climb. I'm sitting on Adam Craig's wheel. The rest of the pack is out of sight. This is super cool. I wonder how long I can stay with these dudes.

I roll over a rock. Thunk. The back end of my bike squirms around. Flat. Dammit. I jump off and shake the tire around a few times. Well, I guess that's the end of my glorious chase.

The air is hissing out of a sidewall. I can't get the Stans to seal it, so I pull off the tube I have strapped to my bike. It's a cross tube. Crap. This probably won't end well. I hit it with the CO2. Most of the field has passes me.

The tube blows up, but doesn't seat the tire. I work my hands around the bead, popping it on as I go. More time wasted. I finally get the thing back on my bike and start riding again. I re-pass a bunch of people. Everybody is mighty nice about letting me by.

Then we turn onto the Black Mountain descent that we finish on everyday. But this time we have to go up it. I jump off my bike and alternate between running and hiking.

20 minutes later I'm still pushing. I catch up to Cinder Bloch Lochner. He has two sets of flat repair stuff (good idea in Pig Saw,) and gives me his extra. I express my eternal gratitude as we hike together for a while. He says that Jason, who's currently first in SS, is only a minute up. I trudge away and try to catch him.

Another 20 minutes, and I reach something that looks like the top of a hill. I jump back on, turn right, and start riding down the trail. Laurel bushes scratch my arms and smack my face.

The trail gets steeper and steeper. I'm going faster and faster. Root drop coming up. Going way too fast. I drop over it and lock up the back wheel get slowed down before the next one. Pine needles spray up from my back tire. Hell this is steep. I drop over more roots, then the trail flows into a level section.

It pitches back up. Off my bike and start hiking again. The trail keeps shooting up and down for miles.

I'm 1:40 in, and I haven't even hit the first aid station at mile 9. This is ridiculously slow. It'll be a ten hour day  at this pace. I start another long downhill. Then I hit some wooden steps. Photographer to the left, another to the right. I've gotta be close to the aid.

Another big section of steps. There's the food tent. I come to a stop and ask the guys to pump up my back tire. It's already down to 18 psi.

Down more rocky single track, across a wooden cable bridge, then up a steep climb. Man my legs are burning from all that walking. I start the Squirrel Gap section. It seems a little easier to ride up than it was to ride down, but maybe that's because my seatpost isn't broken.

I start catching people. I'm making good time up this thing. I see Melanie McQuaid and the Birdman spinning up the hill. I pass a guy with a banjo.

"Hey, start playing that damn thing. Up?" I say.

He points to the right. "Yep. Up brother, always up," he says, then starts plucking.

I swing up the hill behind the Birdman. Jason is just a few feet in front of us. We speed up a little to catch him. I run around Jason then start moving faster up the hill. "I hate you," he yells.

The Birdman passes me again, then we start a gravely climb. I sit on his wheel. I hit a little stick. Thunk. The back end of my bike squirms around.

"Fuck my nuts. You've gotta be kidding me," I say. Flat again. I jump off and start installing the tube Cinder Bloch gave me. Melanie, Jason, and Morgan Olsson pass me again. Well that's discouraging. I hit it with a CO2, but the tire is still soft.

I ride it gingerly down the hill to Aid 2. I grab my food from my drop and set it on the table. I ask the guys to pump it up again, and we check for a sidewall cut. Can't find anything. I sprint away from the station.

I'm a few minutes down the road. I reach in my back pocket. I forgot my food. Son of a bitch. I can't do the rest of this stage without food. I turn around and sprint back to the Aid.

Food safely stored in my pockets, I set off again. I'm pretty bummed at this point. I ride more single track, a long gravel descent, then start the climb up Black Mountain. The climb is long and slow. Tom Waits' voice work it's way into my head. Miserys the river of the world. Everybody row. Row everybody row. 

Everybody row. I'm so tired. Row. Everybody row. Everybody row. Miserys the river of the world. Damn this is a terrible song to have stuck in my head.

I finally see the fire pit at the trail intersection. Right turn, a little more hiking, then the Black Mountain descent. I'm almost too exhausted to enjoy the downhill. My arms shake and start to cramp. Root drop, water bar, root drop, wall ride, smooth fast section. I roll dejectedly across the finish line. That was such a hard day. 

Watch more video of Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race 2011 on

Watch more video of Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race 2011 on

Monday, October 3, 2011

The End of Pigsaw

That was a great week. I'm not into cliche recaps, so until I finish my more detailed bloggerly duties I'll leave it at this: The Pisgah Stage Race was the best riding I've ever done. Better than Colorado in some ways. Fucking super cool. So cool that I might move to that little part of the world some day. 

The week ended up costing me about $150. We split Grandmas's House 7 ways, ate shitty Mexican food all week, and packed into a tiny TDI to carpool down there. That's a cheap week. Even if I would have had to pay the entry fee, it wouldn't have been that bad. And a stage race is so much more fun than a season full of 100 milers. If you're into this mountain biking thing, you should try stage racing. It's rad.  

Anyway, I'll have the Stage 4 and 5 reports up this week. 

Here are the ones I have done so far:

Pisgah Stage Race 2011: Stage 3

“Dude, Garth do you know that Jeramiah’s bullfrog calls you Man-woman?” I say. I’m delighted with the information I’ve just received.

“Yeah man, I let it go the first couple times, but now it’s pissing me off. I mean really? Man-woman? Just because I have long hair? I can’t stand close minded people man,” says Garth. He flicks a dred out of his face.

We’re in the field waiting to start Stage 3. It’s only 25 miles today, so it’s going to be a fast. Just like an XC race. I walk over to the Izzy’s coffee truck and get a free cup. This a rad setup. The guy has a generator and an espresso machine. And it’s free. Very nice.

Almost time to go. I line up next to the Birdman and Cinder Bloch Lochner. Todd gives us three seconds, then we hit it. Garth takes a flyer down the gravel road and tries to catch up with the lead car. Everybody else holds a steadier pace.

Garth jumps off his bike in the middle of the road. He pushes down on a flat rear tire with his thumb. The whole pack starts laughing as we surround and pass him. The Pflug decides to take advantage of Garth’s misfortune and sprints away.

It only takes us a couple minutes to catch him. It’s hard to make an attack stick with dudes like Jeramiah, Sam, and Adam leading the pack.

We turn into the singletrack and start a steep climb. I make some passes and get up with the lead four pro guys and the Elite Elderly Leader Andy Johnson. I’m feeling pretty excellent. I’ve gotta go for a good overall finish today.

The singletrack opens back up into some flatter smooth stuff. I stick on Andy’s wheel. I almost feel bad that I can’t help pull, but that’s the way of the parasitic single speeder. I tuck and spin.

I head into the first downhill, and my arms give out. My hands and wrists are completely destroyed from the last two stages. I fumble down the water bars and loose rocks un-gracefully. Hopefully my upper body will warm up and start working.

I let Andy set the pace up the next climb. I might not be able to hold onto my bars, my legs feel great. We turn back down a hill, and he tells me to take the lead.

I spin out to get up to speed and start flowing down the trail. It’s smooth and super fast. Big mounds to pump over, nice burms in the corners, and tacky dirt.

I hit the bottom and spin. I don’t see anybody behind me. Up a little gravel climb, then down more sweet flowing trails. I’m sitting in 5th overall right now. I need to hold this pace.

Another downhill. I ride over some big rocks, then stop at the top of a drop. The trail is a five-foot deep drainage ditch that’s full of big rocks. If there’s a line down this thing, I’m not seeing it. I jump off my bike and start running down the hill.

Somebody yells to me. I look left. Husky Thom Parsons. With the big Cycling Dirt camera.

“You fucker! Put that camera away while I’m walking,” I yell. Then I see a grandmotherly looking woman standing next to him. Whoops. Should have watched that language.

I jump back on my bike and pedal across a long section of flat gravel. I’m spun out and afraid that somebody is going to catch me. I finally make a turn onto a pavement and start heading back up the mountain.

Through Aid Station 2 and onto a single track climb. My eyes are popping out of my head like a Boston Terrier's. The trail gets too steep to ride, so I start running. Then it turns downhill. I jump back on my bike, but the dirt pitches right back up in a few feet. Dammit. It keeps undulating, 100 feet up, 50 feet down, over and over.

I see Andy spinning up the climb a few feet back when I’m off hiking. Crap. I need to move faster. I’m desperate to get to the descent.

After another couple hiking sections, I hit the top and start bombing back down. I’m not holding anything back. I rip down the loose rocks, then the trail levels out again. Another climb. Shit. This is going to kill me.

I pin it up the hill. I’m getting dizzy but I can’t slow down. I finally see the last turn. I shred the smooth single track down hill, and spin the flat section across the bottom. I can see the finish. One hard turn and a 100 yards on gravel, and I’m there.

I hear a deraliur clanking behind me. That has to be Andy. I make the turn, hit the gravel and sprint.
I cross the line. Andy is less than a bike length back.

Hot damn. I got it. 5th overall behind Koerber, Bishop, Craig, and Edsall. That’s a solid day. My legs start to lock up. I might die tomorrow.

Videos by Huskey Thom:    

Watch more video of Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race 2011 on

Watch more video of Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race 2011 on