This is how much I like Lake Hope – I am on vacation in Delaware and I am going to wake up at 2am on Sunday morning to drive back for the race.
But, like I said, I am vacation so I am going to try and keep this short. I have to go play with my kids at the beach.
The Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series (OMBC) will be holding a XC mountain bike race at Lake Hope State Park near Nelsonville, Ohio on Sunday, August 3rd at noon. There will be a shorter kid’s race at 11:00am.
Nahum Burt and I did a pre-ride of the course last week and it was amazingly fun – more fun than I had remembered.
When I ride at Lake Hope I feel like I am holding the steering wheel of a super fast roller coaster. You methodically chug up the climbs and then scream down the descents so fast that your eyes start to water. The trail has great flow to it and provides enough of a technical challenge to keep it interesting.
Experts will race for 30 miles, sport for 17 and novice for 9.
The course starts at the bottom of a hill near the water tower. Racers shoot up this hill, which helps separate the pack a little, and then descend down to a long gravel road. The high speeds and loose gravel on the road make this opening stretch feel a bit treacherous, but I have yet to see anyone wipe out on it in my 5 races here. You should use this section to get in good position for the singletrack, but be careful not to overcook by going out too hard.
There is one huge difference this year for the race at Lake Hope. In the past, this race also qualified for points in the West Virginia series. This meant that all the racers at each level had to start at the same time because the age groups of the two series did match up. For example, all the sport men started in one big wave. It was a huge mass start and even though it was exciting to leave with that any racers, it made it difficult to track where you stood with the competitors in your division. It also made the traffic on the opening stretches of singletrack a little heavy.
This year the race will only award points for the Ohio series, so the racers will leave every two minutes in their regular OMBC divisions. This should cut down on trail traffic and make it easier to directly race the other folks in your division.
There is not a ton of room for passing at Lake Hope, so if you want to get around your competitors you will have to be aggressive about it. Don’t wait for a good place to pass because it’s not coming. The trail doesn’t change to double track. The only time it really opens up is on the road at the beginning and end of the race. You have two options during the race. You can ask your fellow racers for a pass if they are slowing you down or you can make an aggressive move in the brush on the side of the trail.
The other side of that equation is that their is tons and tons of sweet, singletrack on this course. Did I mention that I’m a big fan of Lake Hope?
There are some roots, rocks, streams and bridges, but not an overwhelming amount. The defining feature of this course is speed!
There is about 1700 to 1800 feet of climbing for the sport racers according to my GPS. This puts it in the middle of the pack when compared to other OMBC courses. While some OMBC races have short sections that are so steep that I prefer to hike them, this course has none of those. All the climbs are rideable. The most challenging climb of the day is probably the last one. In the past, I have hiked this one because my legs were so baked at the end of the race. It happens with less than a mile left. You take a sharp left turn and climb back up to the final stretch of road. This will be one of the most difficult parts of the day for most racers. But, just when you reach the road and think you are done, the climbing continues on the asphalt. Your legs will ache and your heart will feel like its pounding its way out of your chest – especially if you are finishing closely to one of your competitors.
That’s all for today. I am off to the beach. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section. See you at Lake Hope!