The 2018 Course
The 2018 Course has not yet been determined, but we expect it to be very similar to the 2017 course, which you can access here. There is a map and annotated cue sheet. For those of you who want to download the file to your GPS devices, click on the “Export” tab in the upper right hand corner of the page, where you’ll find links and directions for downloading .tcx files and .gpx files, along with directions for a number of devices. Note that the off-road parts of the course are approximations, so be sure and follow the arrows in the off-road sections and not your GPS device. Similarly, the cue sheet does not provide directions in the off-road sections, just follow the arrows. For similar reasons, the stated distances on the cue sheets are likely to be slightly inexact. The feedback we received in past years was that the course was very well marked, and that most didn’t need to refer to the cue sheets; that’s our objective again this year, but bring it along in some form so that you can refer to it if you need to do so.
In addition to the official course, there are two “go directly to the finish” routes available for the 2017 event, the first from the aid station at mile ~27, and the second from the aid station at mile ~46. Again, we anticipate minor changes for 2018. There will also be paper copies of the cue sheets available at those two aid stations. We hope that every participant plans to ride the entire course, but it is a challenging ride, and it may not be your day on Sunday. These two opt-out routes will get you back to the finish on well-traveled paved roads as easily as we can. They are not supported parts of the course, though. There are no signs, and no roving support, you’ll have to rely on the cue sheets (which are very simple). If you do get into a fix, you can still call Andy or me, and we’ll do our best to help you.
For those of you who have ridden with us previously but missed the 2017 event, we introduced last year a few significant changes in the course: the event starts at Crellin Park in Chatham, from which you’ll take a right turn onto Rte. 66. In about 1/2 mile you’ll take a sharp left turn that climbs immediately, you might want to be ready for that! You’ll ride up a hill that curves to the left and takes you to a short trail access to an old rail trail, which you’ll probably be on for 15-25 minutes. After leaving the rail trail, you’ll ride a short bit and come to the singletrack section that used to be shortly after the Ooms Preserve loop. From there, everything you’ll ride is the same as the old courses, with two exceptions: first, the Ooms Preserve loop is now almost at the end of the course (it has been the very first off-road section on the course). Second is that the very end of the ride is different in that it takes you to the new venue. We think you’ll find these changes create an experience that flows even better than the original and gets you onto the surfaces you’re there for much more quickly!
You’re free to ride on any of the roads at any time, but most of the off-road sections are not open to public use except on the day of the event, so do not ride on these. They’re on private property or property that’s not typically open for cycling, and riding on them may risk our being barred from using them. Landowners have been generous in opening them up at all. I put together directions for a modified course that will give you almost the full loop but without the off-road sections that you should avoid. You can find the 2017 version of that here.
If you’re pre-riding the course, be prepared for whatever conditions the dirt roads may be in (they are typically well-maintained, but dirt roads in springtime can be unpredictable, sometimes dry and dusty, sometimes soggy or even muddy in spots). We are usually able to ride most of the course by mid-April with only a couple of dirt road sections that were in rough shape. We’ll also be scouting out the course at about the same time this year, and will post condition reports.
This is a challenging course, though not designed to be excessively so. Andy’s and my intention in designing it was to provide an experience where even highly experienced cyclist would finish thinking “that was really hard, and it was a lot of fun,” and the rest of us would go slower, spend more time at the aid stations, get off and walk once in a while when something looked a bit too daunting, and still finish with the same thought: truly an epic ride that left us tired, tested, yet with a smile on our faces.
Some of you will want to ride hard through the entire course to see how fast you can do it, and that’s definitely a fun way to do it (please remember to respect the traffic laws, though, we do not stop traffic on the course). Go a bit slower and you’ll find that there’s hardly a spot on the course that isn’t beautiful, and you’ll have time to get to know some of the folks around you. Also, if you’re not an experienced racer, you’ll be much more likely to make it through the entire course if you take it at a moderate pace; parts of it are tough! The entire course consists of rolling hills, none terribly long, but rollers can wear you down: you spend a lot more time working your way up than you do recovering on the way down.
You can expect to be doing a lot of climbing, and spending most of your time off the pavement on either dirt roads or off-road single or double track trails. All roads will be open to motor traffic.