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Penn State ECCC Mountain Bike Race October 2008
By Trevor Booz

This race weekend was indeed awesome. We ended up driving up Friday afternoon, making a dinner pitstop at a diner in Harrisburg then hunting for a grocery store to stock up for the weekend, and then we were off to Rothrock State Forest. I had originally gone on google maps and gotten directions, they had a bunch of roads going through the forest but little did we know that most of these roads were single lane dirt roads. So we get to the point where we need to turn off of route 322, and there are 6 miles until we get to the campsite. Well the road turns into gravel and we couldn't believe that we were going to be crawling along a bumpy gravel road for the next 6 miles. After asking a local business along 322 if there were any non gravel ways, she replied no (we later found out there was a partially paved way) and we decide to suck it up and go the 6 miles on the gravel twisty road. After passing a logging truck and a few hunters out deer spotting we arrive at camp. It was a nice big open field with a mess hall and bathroom facility located next to the field. Friday night ended up turning into a small party with all the typical accompaniments to a party (need I say more).

We went to bed and slept our tents in the sub 40 degree weather, and at 2am we were accompanied by some pouring down rain as well. The weather was just lovely when we woke up Saturday morning, freezing cold and wet and we had a time trial to go to. I woke up an hour before the race and didn't realize that the race was in fact a good half hour drive away on these windy dirt roads. So after rushing to get ready I hope in the car and we are off. We get to the start and don't even have our bikes out yet and they are calling the B racers to the start. So with 10 feet of warmup riding Matt and I line up for the time trial. A few leg stretches and we are off on the 2 or so mile course, freezing cold and some completely non warmed up muscles. Out of the 15-20 Men's B racers we did fairly well with Matt getting 1st and I got 7th. With the time trials over at like 10am we still had the entire day left, and instead of watching the downhill we decided to go on a ride of the local trails. We though riding to the
downhill course (a 40 min car ride away) would be a good challenge, hitting up the local singletrack along the way. So after climbing a 1200ft elevation gain and riding through some rocky as shit valleys we managed to make it the 15 or so miles to the downhill course. Seeing as it was only 230 we decided that riding back would be fun too, so we took some other trails taking us on a second mountain range that had some of the most incredible views I have ever seen riding. We were riding on the ridge of rock gardens and burnt tree trunks for several miles admiring the views into the valley on either side, with no signs of civilization except the gigantic 40 yd wide gas pipeline that was cut into this pristine wilderness. After this range we had to make our way back over the mountain which was another 1200 ft elevation gain and a super long downhill we were back to camp. This 30 some mile ride of the rocky mountainous (hilly doesn't do this justice) we were starving, and the BBQ provided at camp was AMAZING. I had about a 4 lb plate of pulled pork, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, chicken, and some salad stuff and it was enough to get some comments from the rest of the people around the campfire about my gluttonous amount. After having seconds (yes we were that hungry) everyone at the camp hung out around the fire with some select beverages and talked and had a good time. They played a movie later that night but it was pretty boring, I don't recommend Klunkers unless you are looking for a good history lesson on Mt Biking, not any good action in it. The party spirit wasn't with me that night so after 930pm I am not sure what happened because I was in my tent.

Sunday morning came nice and early with a 7am wake up to get ready for the XC race. The XC race went well, the course was on par with the difficulty level of Lehigh except with more climbing. The race started on a mile long dirt road climb that was intended to spread the pack out, but in the Men's B race everyone stayed pretty much together and of course as soon as we got into the technical single track there was bottlenecking. A short technical section was followed with a bone jarring decent back down to the same elevation as the start, this decent was just painful and not even close to fun. Next was another uphill trip on a fire road into some more single track through some slippery roots and rocks. After this we had a short stretch of fast gravel road followed by a climb that tested everyone's skill. The climb started out on a dirt road for about a half mile and then turned into about 3/4 a mile of technical rocky switchbacks. I managed to make my way from second to last to about 6th during this climb passing tons of people. At the end of this technical climb was a long ridge scattered with pretty challenging rock gardens for about a mile and a half. The course then stayed pretty level and spit us out into the time trial course, which was still fairly level and really technical. We then hooked up with the course at the top of the start climb (the start climb was only used in the beginning and no more) to the bone jarring decent again. The start finish line was at the bottom of this. So Matt and I faired well on this super super technical course, flying through the rock gardens like nothing and hammering on it up the climbs. I guess I was hammering it harder than I thought since I actually caught Matt in his front of the pack position from my starting back position after only one lap. Out of the field of about 25 he got 4th and I got 5th, our best showings in XC race for Men's B yet.

In summary, everyone who said they wanted to mt bike race this year and didn't, shame on you. This weekend was filled with an awesome campsite party vibe and some awesome riding mixed in. This really was an awesome weekend to go and the vibe at mountain bike races is to chill even during the races everyone you met at the campsite is still getting along and having a good time. (except UVM and UNH who were too good to camp and had to get a hotel, snobs). My recommendation is to DO THIS RACE WEEKEND next year if they have it. Its like a giant mountain biking party all weekend long.

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Page last modified on March 02, 2009, at 12:48 PM