Friday, November 18, 2016

2017 Marathon Nationals Recon

The wildfires around me gave me the opportunity to seek better air quality.  So I headed west to Arkansas to do a little home work.  Next May is the USAC Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals. The venue is Iron Mountatin at Lake DeGray.  Don't worry, it is nothing like the Iron Mountain course that Chris Scott takes great pleasure in testing your mettle. I have heard nothing but good about this course.  Two lap format with a short parade lap to sort the racers out prior to hitting the single track. Counter clockwise flow.

SS'r paradise!

According to my GPS, the lap is 23 miles with 1700 feet of climbing. The trail has a rocky base and laid out so well that I don't think rain would be an issue at all.  Nothing too technical, and by that, I mean, I didn't have to session any section.  Few roots, but lots of cat head rocks.  Fortunately, most of the rocks are embedded and so won't be taking your front wheel out from under you.  This trail is fast and furious! There are a few short rock gardens that make it interesting, but everything is rideable. I could just give the trail builder a big ole' squeeze! I would guess that the course is about 85% single track.  A few short pavement sections will make it easy to grab some nutrition and fluid.

The Yellow Trail is my second favorite.  Rocky, but plowable.  Kinda like a much tamer version of The Snake. This trail has a good bit of climbing, the longest of which is a double track, access road climb up to the power lines, but only about 1/2 mile at 3-4% grade. Most climbs are 50-100 meters.

Soooo much floooow!

The Green trail, particularly the lower section, is my favorite.  Rocks, rocks, rocks.  Equivalent to the rockier sections of Raccoon. And these you have to pick your way through and be careful not to strike your pedals.  No problem with quick engaging I-9's.  There is an uphill rock garden that I probably wouldn't notice on gears, but on my single speed I had to dance my way up.

Had to hold my tongue just right to clean this uphill rock garden.

Love me some rocks!

The Orange and the Blue Trails are a rockier version of the Small Intestine trail at Raccoon. The climbing is evenly distributed over the length of the trail, but the flow was so good, it was easy to carry a lot of momentum uphill.  These two trails were smoother than the Yellow and Green.

Orange Trail 

The White Trail is a highway!  A cross between Tanasi's Brush Creek and Tsali's Right Loop.  It meandered along a point, offering up spectacular views of Lake DeGray.

White Trail

One lap of the course and I had it pretty much dialed in.  I did a second and was even faster, knowing what was lurking around the corner and when I needed to get ready to stand and grunt up some of the steeper sections and switchbacks.  Today the course was slippery as the drought has extended its reach to Arkansas.  The corners had a collection of loose dirt and gravel, as well as leaves.  I would say that with rain, this course will be fast like Warrior Creek.  Lots of sharp rocks, so run tires with sidewall protection.


Matt Mc said...

always run protection in Arkansas.

Carey Lowery said...

Why? I did not see any hot babes out there.