This was round 3 of this race and once again it was a much different race course than in the past 2 races. Due to some trail issues they ran a 30 mile first lap and then repeated the outer singletrack loop the second time to make the 50 miles. If you haven't done this one before, this is full on mountain biking at it's finest. These trails are some really rocky tough trails and it's an amazing feat to get to the finish line without going over the bars or having mechanicals. This year I did both thankfully!
After a few rough races, I was really hoping to get a good solid race in. So I did what any normal person does, I rode too much during the week, mounted up a brand new tire that I wouldn't have a chance to ride before hand, and headed out to Lykens PA for a battle with the rocks. Last year I took 4th place in a solid field that ended a bit short as there was some course marking issues. This year I was hoping for a better full 50 mile race and it would prove to be just that. Conditions were perfect, weather was cool and dry and the morning was actually cold. It was refreshing. So anywhere here's how it goes...
I took off hard from the start but tried to stay steady and just ride people down and make time through the really rough stuff. I was probably in 12th or so position after the initial STEEP hike a bike and then just stayed patient and rode at the back of a group of 5 for a while until it opened up and we jockeyed for positions. As the lap went on I was riding steady and I started to get through one by one. As each would bobble I kept on it and passed through. I was going back and forth with one rider for most of the first lap until we chatted around mile 24 or so and found out that he was doing the 25 mile race...wonderful. At least as I found out later he was the 25 mile winner. So he dropped off and I headed out onto the second lap of the bumpy wonderful singletrack.
At mile 20 I filled one bottle and put down a pretty good pace relying on the next aid station about 10 miles later. Well that aid station had closed up and I was now out of water...crap. I kept on knowing that the next aid station was at mile 40 but I already felt thirsty so I knew that was a bad sign. I would find out later that at this point I was actually in 3rd place but the dehydration had taken it's toll. I had to meter the power back a bit and just try and get to the next aid station without cramping. In the next few miles Zach Morey and Jed Prentice found their way through but I had no answer with no water. I knew if I tried to get on their wheel I would end up in the fetal position in the bushes somewhere so I let them go. I found water at aid 40 and a little later I got some strength back and started to put the pedals down hard again.
Once I got some water I was able to really enjoy the rocky goodness that is the Rattling Creek. There are so many cool and rugged features you need to ride through around and over that it's really an accomplishment to ride most of this stuff. I was happy to cross the line in 4:48 in 5th place and have a steady solid ride even having a pretty big water issue. If you get the opportunity, check out these trails. If you like some good techy riding, you won't be disappointed.