On Saturday, April 5, 2014 at noon there will be an OMBC mountain bike race at The Wilds. I pre-rode the course to check out the conditions and learn a little bit more about what the racers would be getting themselves into.
Racers Cory Knight of Combo Race Team, Nahum Burt and I drove together to this private land that is located across the street from The Wilds safari park. We met up with Jon Clous and Jeremy Russell, also of Combo Race Team, in the parking lot for our adventure. Most importantly, Heath Boedeker, Appalachian Outdoor Adventures (AOA) trail steward, and AOA treasurer Austin Powel showed up to give us a tour of the trails. It’s a good thing that they did because even though there are signs marking the trails, they can be a little intimidating to navigate at first.
The race will consist of one lap for novice, two laps for sport and three laps for expert racers. Each lap is 5.4 miles long. I measured 5.3 miles with my Garmin. At 5.4, 10.8 and 16.2 miles, this will probably be the shortest race in the 2014 OMBC season.
This will be disappointing for some racers who like longer races to justify the drive. For others who haven’t had a chance to build up their endurance this early in the season, this will be an easy way to step into racing early in the year. I personally enjoy having races of different lengths throughout the season because I think it plays to different people’s strengths. Some people like long and slow, while others like short and fast and this gives something for everyone. I tend to tend to prefer shorter races, so I think this will be a fun event.
This early in the season a lot of people are worried about course conditions. My local trails at Alum Creek State Park are too muddy to ride right now, so I was concerned about what we would find when we got there. Heath assured me ahead of time on Facebook that The Wilds can handle a little weather and that I didn’t need to worry about trashing the trail.
The ground on the singletrack was moist, but usually firm and tacky. There were a few soft spots and mud pits, but nothing unusual for early spring in Ohio. It was nice to finally get away from the spin bike and ride on mountain bike trails again.
My Garmin logged 398 feet of elevation gain per lap. There aren’t really any long sustained climbs that define the course. Most of the climbing is short and steep with a section of climbing at mile 4.5 of the loop of 150 feet. There are three spots in the course where my rear wheel spun out at the top of a short, steep climb. A combination of moist conditions and gravel made it difficult to get traction in these areas. I had some very knobby Kenda Nevegal tires on and I plan to keep them on for the race for additional grip.
The start of the race is located in The Field Loop in a parking area that isn’t usually open to the public. This part of the course is mowed and that trail is less technical and more open. It will allow the pack to separate itself at the start before they hit the singletrack. This would be a great spot to hydrate or grab nutrition when completing a lap. Expect this section to be fast, with some climbing and lots of passing.
Speaking of passing, one thing I really like about this course is even though there is a lot of singletrack, the trail opens up at several points throughout the lap and will allow racers to easily get by their competitors. You don’t need to fret about being stuck the entire race behind the person you entered the woods with (that is if you are afraid to ask for a pass).
There are several small rock gardens throughout the loop. The rocks and roots are all rideable, but provide a nice technical aspect to the course. They could definitely trip you up if you aren’t careful. Sometimes the moist conditions can make these a little slick, but for the most part that isn’t a problem.
The forest is a mix of deciduous and pine trees and the texture of the trail is usually dirt with gravel mixed in.
AOA has taken the time to clear the trails for the race and they are in great shape. If we get a few warm days before the race, they should get even better. I suspect even if we get a little rain during the week that it shouldn’t be a big problem.
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OMBC hasn’t had a race at The Wilds in several years. I’m excited that they’ve included it in the schedule for 2014. It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden here and it felt good to return. AOA has done a ton of great work on the trail since my last visit and it’s even better than I remember. I will definitely not wait another couple of years to come back.
This is going to be a short fast race that is technical enough to make it interesting, but not so much so that it makes it frustrating. I think it will be a good race for first timers to sign up for and see how they do. I’m speaking from experience because 6 years ago this was the first mountain bike race I competed in. It was a challenging day that day but hugely rewarding. I’ve been stoked about racing ever since.
I hope to see you out on race day. If you run into me at the race, then make sure and say “hi”. I’ll be taking photos for Quickdirt and hanging out after the race. Don’t forget to “buy” me a post-race beer from Great Lakes. Ryan will be tapping the keg afterwards to reward the racers.
It was fun to meet up with some of the Quickdirt readers at the Mohican Cabins race and get feedback about the site. Thanks!
Look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday!
You can find more details about the 2014 OMBC race at The Wilds here:
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Let me know f you have any questions about the course in the comment section and I will do my best to answer them.
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