So yesterday I was finally able to get on the trails in Patapsco for the first time in 33 days since the first of our two big blizzards this winter. Overall there were a fair number of downed trees to pick around but almost no snow to speak of and the ground was pretty dry.
This morning I checked out the course map for the Sugar Hill XC race on the 20th. The map is above. Here are the turn-by-turn directions.One lap is ~7M long.
- Starting at the flag go up the Big Hill (blue).
- At the top of the Big Hill you will make a left onto Rockburn Branch 1 (red).
- Continue from Rockburn Branch 1 (red) onto Rockburn Branch 2 (purple).
- Make a left onto Morning Choice (yellow).
- Make a right onto Cascade Falls (blue).
- Make a right onto Ridge Trail (orange).
- If this is your last lap make a left to go down the Big Hill (blue) and into the finish. Otherwise, make a right at the end of Ridge Trail, make an immediate left onto Rockburn Branch 1 and continue through another loop.
I've been on all of these trails at one time or another and I would say I'm familiar with about 1/2 of the course. But looking at the map now I'm definitely concerned about the start. I did that "Big Hill" climb yesterday and it was tough. Now seeing that it's the start of the race I'm definitely going to have to go into it with a plan. With 100 guys starting on a 7M course positioning at the top of that climb is going to be a huge factor for how the rest of the race plays out. Especially since I am racing in the most novice category where passing is not going to be "smooth".
Since I have a single speed I really only have 2 options on a big hill like that: grind or run. I'm going to change my gearing up from a 32X19 to a 32x20 which should help a little but I'm going to have to practice that climb to find the best bike/run combo to get up it. I crawled up this climb yesterday and eventually had to bike hike it up when my heart rate hit my LT and I had to reign it in since it was an easy day. While running may be a "strength" of mine since I've been doing it for 10 years I'm not going to outrun someone up a hill who is spinning a granny gear while I'm pushing my giant steel 29er.
But, when it comes down to it the hill will be steep for everyone. So I'll plan and prepare but come race day you just gotta get out there and have fun (and crush souls if you can).