I learned about this race series last year, just in time for the last race. This year I managed to get out for the first of the six races in this Thursday evening series. Onion River Sports is organizing things and all of the proceeds go to support Millstone Trail Association’s campaign for Barre Town forest (where many of their trails are located). I figured that this would be a good opportunity to get in a decent workout.
I rode on Tuesday this week and discovered that I hadn’t recovered from my race on Sunday. I rode anyway. The only other riding I had done was commuting to work. I was still not recovered and I could feel it in my legs. It made for an interesting race.
There was a smaller turnout for the race than I expected, but they expect attendance to increase as the series goes on like it did last year. There were a surprising number of kids taking part, which is nice to see. I was the only one who showed up on a single-speed, not that it mattered because there weren’t any such distinctions other than the number of laps.
The course was a little bit shorter than last year. It included some of the same trails found in the early parts of the Millstone Grind and the 12 Hours of Millstone race courses. I think it was close to three miles per lap. According to my GPS, it was 2.5 miles but those are “GPS miles” so you have to add a little. The plan is to keep the course the same throughout the series so you can keep track of your progress. Not much to say about the course other than it being typical of Millstone’s terrain: good single-track, technical, short climbs, nowhere to rest/recover, and lots of fun.
We stared all together, taking off through the grassy field. This has never been my favorite terrain but it is short lived. Once we entered the woods, it was “lights out” dark. The trails on the East side of the hill were shaded enough that it took me a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust to the low light. Our small group of 4-lap racers sorted itself out pretty quickly. Arthur Foelsche was out front followed by Matt Moody and then myself. On a moderate climb, the trail hooked steep to the left followed by a sudden and steeper right. Matt lost traction on some roots here and I was able to ride past him. Matt dogged me for the remainder of the race. I could see Arthur ahead of me a various points on the course but didn’t have the “kick” necessary to work my way up to him.
We continued in this order for the remaining three laps. I finished second overall for the 4 lap group at 1:01, two minutes down from first. Matt came in within a minute or two later. My daughter, Emma, did two laps and came in just before I finished my race. Onion River already has the results up on their web site. Amazingly, I remembered to start my Garmin so I have that data up on Strava too.
When riding on my own, it seems to be impossible for me to get the kind of workout that a race will create. Since that was my goal, I can mark this one down as mission accomplished. I’m hoping to be able to get to the rest of the series but that will depend on other factors. It’s a little out of the way but not difficult to get to after work. Unlike some other weekly race series, this isn’t just a leg & lung workout; you need to bring your bike handling skills too.