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From the monthly archives: January 2013

By Barry

Freedom Center, home of the Snotcycle mtb race, which will be run on Saturday, January 26, 2013.  (This is the second year at this venue. In years past, the race was held on Rockland Farm–home of the Baker’s Dozen mtb race–though because these races were disrupting farm operations they relocated the Snotcycle. I for one, miss having to bunny-hop the frozen cow patties.)

For those of you who are doing or thinking of doing the Snotcycle next weekend, here is some trail recon.  Disclaimer: my memory is not so good so please take this review as a general flavor of the trail, though not a recipe.  I am not a cook, as the famous saying goes.

Dave and I rode out to Leesburg on Monday, January 21 to scout the race course. Our plan was to do two laps, though after the first lap the temp rose to 40 degrees F and the trail thawed which made it, as my pal Joey Baird described it, a greasy mess. We turned around and did not finish our second lap as it would not have been good for the trail (or us).

We were pleasantly surprised to see the race director Mike…or was it Tom?–I get those guys confused–on the trail blowing leaves with a friendly grin on his face. We thanked him for rolling out the red carpet for us. I think it is thoughtful of a race director to come out in advance to make the course more appealing and safe for riders.

Based on our ride and a quick driving tour, the camp and property at the Freedom Center seem pastoral and quaint–along the gravel roads, one can find about 20-25 old cabins/cottages/meeting halls with a couple of caretaker’s houses interspersed. No frills but looks like a good, low-budget venue to host retreats or a Snotcycle race…

In general, the trail wasn’t as unpleasant as I had heard, especially since it was frozen when we got there and we had decent grip. It kind of reminds me of a condensed Lodi Farm (near Fredericksburg)–lots of turns, quick ups and downs, not a lot of coasting, though nothing very technical. It does have more ruts in it than I would prefer from riders riding when the trails were too soft. As long as you’re paying attention, you can ride over or through the ruts without getting your wheels caught. Perhaps the trails would benefit from a more strict open/closed policy and posting such on the Freedom Center website and Facebook page. Brian may roll his eyes at this regulation, though I maintain that certain regulations are good for humanity.

I recall there are two log ramps: on the first log ramp–about a quarter mile into the trail–as Dave was rolling over it, I think he hit some frost on the top log and his bike slid out from underneath him, fast and hard though he popped up quickly, smiling. Other than a slightly sore elbow, he seems to be OK. The second log ramp, about a mile and a half in, has a go-around to the right, which I took and will probably take again during the race. There are also a couple of smallish-mediumish trees/logs you must cross, some of which are on slight climbs. They are all rideable though on one of them, I was in too big a gear and didn’t have the momentum to ride over it, so I had to quickly dismount and hop over it on foot.

There are some, though not a lot of passing opportunities. If you want to be competitive, you should muscle your way to front of the pack at the start. Otherwise, I think it will be a rolling ant train.

I was riding Specialized Renegade Controls on both front and back of my Epic. At the end of the lap I began to fishtail and slide. I also went down twice at Rosaryville Saturday on slickish spots, so I plan to switch to Captains before the race. If you have knobby tires, I recommend using them (and make sure they are clean so they are more likely to wick away muck or snow).

I believe I have a touch of Raynaud’s syndrome which quickly renders my hands and feet quite numb and useless quite quickly. I didn’t think it was very cold when we started though once we got moving, I lost feeling in my hands and feet.  Dave graciously loaned me the Hotties he had in his gloves and after a while feeling came back to my fingers and I could shift and brake again. If you have any such problems with the cold and it’s going to be freezing or below, bring your Hotties or drop me a line and I’ll bring you some from my stash. We experienced about a 10 degree drop from Falls Church to Leesburg.

Meteorological models are currently unable to predict with precision conditions on race day 5 days out. If the temp is 35 or below, I think the course will be OK. If it rises higher on race day, I predict the course will be a slimy, mucky mess. No one said Snotcycle was supposed to be easy or pleasant so realize that the conditions suck for everyone and roll with it and have some fun.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4GLTE smartphone