Fat Tire Challenge by mj

Travis and I headed to Brookville, PA for the Fat Tire Challenge this past weekend.   This race has quite a history.  Once Michael, the new race director, moved back to his home town after some military time kept him away, he acquired a passion for mountain biking and took on the the challenge of resurrecting the old fat tire event that had since come and gone from the Brookville area.  So far he’ had a successful three years with hopefully many, many more to come!  

The race starts out fast with a short road section before turning into some double track.  The next few miles are pretty fast and rolling before you hit the first 2 mile climb.  I actually liked this climb.  Once I found a comfortable gear I felt pretty good and efficient both times up.  There is plenty of beautiful mountain laurel to enjoy but occasionally if the laurel isnt trying to sneak out and grab at you the rocks are trying to slow you down instead.  The course has a nice has a nice variety of terrain, which I think can be a little deceiving and more trying than some may realize.  I got a taste of that this weekend myself.  As I approached the end of the first lap we were directed into a new 4 mile stretch of trail.  This section definitely left its mark on me.  I started feeling a little tuckered by this point and then came to a climb that definitely had a little more bite than anything else I recalled from the day.  I had to take it easy on this one and with an easier gear I slowly worked my way up.  Once I reached the next road I recognized the section of trail and knew where I was again approaching the end of the first lap.  I check out my heart rate moniter to see how long the 14 miles took me.. 1:53.  Awhh man.  I felt like I was moving along toooo slow.  I was the only expert female signed up for the day, so I knew from the start I would enounter an unintentional lack of motivation to keep up a “race pace” that entire course and it was showing. 

I ate a Gu and start down the roadway for my second and final lap.  I was thrilled to hit the faster flowing section again.  Craving a little speed after it felt like a crawled my way through the last few miles of lap one.   I actually felt much better through the second lap.  I’m noticing a pattern of feeling a little rejuvenated once I reach the half way point of any race.  A second wind maybe, but once I know I’m half way done then I can tell if I am okay and can (try to) pick the pace up some or at least feel comfortable maintaining my efforts the rest of the race.   I am still learning and adapting to the longer courses this season.

Towards the end of the lap I am directed to bypass those last 4 miles of newer single track and head straight up the road to finish the loop in 10 miles instead of the original 14.  Good deal!  As much as I love riding and racing and just always so glad to be out there I was not feeling the love for that section another time around.   I headed up and over the next hill and reach the final section of rocky single track and Travis is there to snap a photo.  I hollar “take it quick.. I cant make these rocks!”  haha!  Those rocks had me beat both attempts and I only made it a small portion before I had to hike over the rest to softer ground.  Rocks-2, MJ-0.  Maybe next year!  I followed Travis up the final climb to the road way and he pedals in with me to the finish. 

I’m not sure if it was the three week hiatus since my last race, but once I rolled through the finish I could almost feel every single inch of my body throbbing in exhiliaration and pain.  I was cooked!  It was very nice to get all of the acknowledgements for “winning” or better termed “completing” the womens expert catagory.  I know I could have road a little stronger with some competition out there, so I was actually a little disappointed with my performance once it was all said and done.  I always rather lose to competition than win to none.  Just not very rewarding.  However the race director, Michael, his new bride (congrats!) and everyone there truly made me feel like a winner afterwards taking my photo with the Fat Tire Cup, giving high fives and just lots of compliments for completing the longer course.  Thanks! 

With the support of the DCNR, local community and so many friends and family so willing to help out I can definitely see this race continuing to grow into a well known, bigger and even better event.  Congrats to Michael and everyone on another successful race and best of luck in the future.  See you next year! 🙂


2 responses to this post.

  1. MJ,

    Nice review of last year’s race. Having never done this race before it’s good to hear a little preview of what’s to come. I won’t be riding expert because I’m “Biking the Wilds”, which you have to race sport class for; will you be doing the series as well? Hope to see you there on Sunday!


  2. Posted by MJ on June 18, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Nina, that course is really beautiful! I’m not sure what I’m doing this weekend yet. Got a few options so I’ll probably decide Saturday and see how far I feel like driving. I’m not sure what that series is, but I’ll check it out online. Good luck and hope to see you around soon!


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