Here’s how it went.
Racers pissing everywhere
Mass start for 3 and 6 hour races at the top of a small hill, down over a bridge which had about 5 feet to one side blocked off. A nicely designed funnel.
300+ racers all start at the same time and there are at least 2 crashes, one shockingly serious of the low speed at which it occurred.
There was no splitting of fields, no advisement to self-seed. We’ve got a 15 year old in gym shorts and sneakers in the front row, because that’s where his dad told him to go. 60 year old beginners crowding for space 3rd row from the front. It was a total cluster fuck that could have been 100% avoided.
Once the race started there were issues with non-participants one the course. One of the aforementioned dads taking up space on a narrow path that could only really support 3-4 riders at once, trying to film his son with a helmet mounted gopro. Seriously? We’ve got 200+ riders trying to come through here and you’re doing this?
The single track comes quickly. No room to pass, significant twists and turns but not enough to get any separation. The aggro old men in the back are yelling to pass while the aggro old women in front are blocking any attempts with their poor riding and lack of fitness/power. SELF-SEED people!
The next crash I see involves three younger women riders. They’re a tangle of bikes and bodies as I ride past shortly before the third mile. This has the unintentional effect of splitting the field. Finally some room!
I’m third wheel in a group of three when the lead rider tags a tree with one end of his handlebars and subsequently tags his dick with the other end. He instantly splays out in the trail, the 2nd rider narrowly avoids him and I have to jam my brakes to do so as well. As I ride by he lets out a groan and grabs his crotch. the next lap is uneventful. I have fun on the climbs, pass a few riders and get passed a few times.
The second lap starts with the siren wail of an emergency siren floating through the woods. Amid this haunting call I do my best to keep my small buffer of space in front and behind. Around mile 7-8 a root jumps out of the ground and eats my front wheel. I crash hard and take a few minutes to rest. Get passed by all the people I passed earlier and a few extra. I decide to continue on and mentally regroup pretty quickly.
The final lap is exciting, I’m juiced on caffeine and feeling good. The race is going fast and I’m feeling ok about my crash. Around mile 3 I see ambulances just off the trail, within a few hundred yards I come upon three riders stopped and a pair of emergency ATVs. A rider is strapped into a back board on one of the ATVs. I yell for stopping for several times as a few more riders stack up behind me. We wait in confused silence for a few minutes before the ATVs start moving. We ride slowly behind, a snake off six or seven riders unsure what to do but not passing. A lone rider comes flying by off trail to the right and weaves past the ATVs. The medics yell at him, the other riders yell at him. What a dick.
The ATVs clear the trail shortly after and we resume our “race.” The unsporting rider is quickly caught and passed, admonishments flow free from the other races. Competition should be honorable.
I wrap up my race. Noting I am somehow in the expert class and not sport. Oddly enough I appear to have placed exactly the same regardless of if I was sport or expert?
This race was a poor experience. The other racers came off like dicks, the promoter did not structure the start in a safe manner and overall it is much too crowded and should be capped or run as a split field.