I rode the Stratham Hill Park course today, previewing the ELLT 2012 mountain bike stage.
Bottom line: not more technical than Willowdale, but much longer climbs (and longer descents). The time trial is still being scoped out, but will likely be a relatively short climb-descent-flat course, shorter in distance than last year. The stage ride will also be shorter (in terms of distance) but will be tougher, simply because of the climbs. (previously recorded video here)
Details: the stage ride will be between 7 and 8 miles, with one brutal, lung-and-limb-crushing climb and two painful-rough climbs. The rest of the climbs are long – think 3 solid minutes of pedaling uphill — but not technical or overly steep. Yes, there is a sign at the bottom of one that said “Long Hill Trail.” And, yes, that climb is long, just not steep. The stage ride starts with a climb – not too long or too steep, but there is no warm up, just a 100 yards and then bam, a climb.
Yes, the hills made a huge impression on me this morning. The plus side to long climbs are long descents – and the screaming, winding downhills are absolutely worth the climbs. The last downhill of the stage ride is steep, with a few sharp turns (and well-placed trees), but very few roots, just a smooth fast ride.
Unlike Willowdale, there are no narrow bridges. We’ll hit two 20-30 foot bridges, but both are double wide and easy to ride. Also unlike Willowdale, we’ll be depending on one guide – Danno – to navigate, which leads to a few things we’ll need to keep in mind:
- maximum trail etiquette when it comes to pausing at trail junctions and making sure everyone knows which way to go. Getting lost would suck…
- even more maximum trail etiquette when it comes to descents (the climbs are always a mess, but not dangerous). Some of the downhills are long and fast, but with plenty of turns. We’ll need to leave 10-15 bike lengths between riders to make sure we’re not crashing into each other and then into the trees.