stories from the trail
Iron Cross race day started at 03:45, with a 3.5 hour drive to Williamsport PA., I wanted to make sure I got to registration early and found a good parking spot. I was successful at both and wound up parking very close to the starting line. The race started at 0900, and as I had expected I was off the back letting the hammer heads do the "neutral" 3 mile ride out of town. About 2 miles in, my SPOT fell off the bike and I had to make a fast u turn to retrieve, this put me behind the MOTO and officially DFL.
The course was awesome, a well blended track consisting of empty country paved roads wandering thru the valley along with both packed and loose gravel sections climbing to the summits. Thrown in for "fun" miles of leaf covered double track and a few miles of rocky single track requiring the utmost concentration. As I am NOT a mountain bike guy, I was mostly successful on the single track segments. I did hike a few hundred feet or so of steep rocky downhill. I was able to meet up and ride with a nice group of 3 others for a few miles. We all had about the same level of ability on the rocky sections so we "buddy" rode until the next pave section where the "cross" bikes shined vs my heavy "over tired" Fargo.
About mid way through the race mother nature decided to step up her game. We left the starting line at about 38 degrees. Forcast was for overcast day with strong winds and highs in the mid 40's. I elected to do a 3 layer torso starting with my Foxwear power dry base layer, followed with a full length partial zip wool jersey and last my 2014 SBR short sleeve jersey. I only wore a Foxwear power stretch base layer and SBR BIBs for my legs. Of course my shoe selection was my cold weather boots with wool socks. Liner gloves and a pair of no finger cycling gloves were the ticket for MOST of the day. As I said earlier, Mother Nature had some interesting weather in store for us, about 1100, half way up a nice double track climb the SNOW started falling. Not heavy, and never really stuck to the ground.
The second of 3 check points held the preplanned stores I needed to continue the race. Being at the bottom of a loooong paved decent the weather was warm and sunny. I fueled on the remaining food I had brought and refilled water and Perpetium bottles ready for the next leg of the race. There were still quite a few folks at the rest area as I left, giving me hope that I would NOT be the last to finish. Making the next turn and starting up the long grade to the summit, the weather again shifted into blustery, snowy conditions. At the top I was able to get a wonderful view and pictures of the squall line that was about to batter me on the decent. In deed the temp dropped and for the first time all day my fingers got cold.....real cold...so I added another layer of silk liner which helped a bit.
About midway down the decent, the MOTO caught up with me as I made the turn from paved to muddy double track. Immediately after making the turn, I was again riding with a fellow cyclist, well sort of you see he was "sweeping" up behind me and pulling all ot the trail blazes. CRAP, I was DFL after all. When we reached the next "challenge" he quickly reminded me that what came next was a bit of "hike a bike". Remembering how crazy WigWam was at last year's Iron Cross Race, I was prepared....mentally...for what was about to come. Just as planned the grade increased and the push the bike to the top turned into a carry the bike segment. As we rounded the "last" corner the top was in sight. I told my trail mate "the sweeper" I HOPE we are NOT climbing THAT rock face.......well we did. It was about 300' of almost vertical climb with the bike off my back. At least the path was obvious from the numerous other riders that had already made the assent. When I reached the top I was ELATED and met with cheers, music and BEER.
The elation was soon replaced with disappointment. Alas I had missed the final time check for the next point and would have to "ride" in the truck back into town, some 17 miles away. The good news is that I had conquered all of the "good" parts of the course as most of the remaining miles were hard packed gravel and asphalt.
I "officially" rode just over 46.7 miles and 5.75 hours. Much better than 2014 attempt but leaving me a NEED to return next year and FINISH. In summary, the event was well organized and the route was amazing. Great job to all of the people that made this race happen and the course workers that sat in the cold making sure we made all the right turns.