Wow. 50 miles of dirt. Beautiful location in Fort Bragg, CA. Weather was perfect. Course was a challenging endurance race. Trail condition’s just right. Wait, there’s more…
Everyone who camped woke up underneath the redwood trees while the sun started rising. Those who stayed in their plush hotels rode to the start on a very beautiful Sunday morning. Hard working volunteers started loading the cars to head down to the start for registrations and sign ins. It’s about four miles bike ride to the start in down town Fort Bragg. The ocean smell and the fresh morning dew set the day in the right direction.
It was warmer than expected. This mountain bike race ain’t for wimps. This is the first year for “Raid on Sherwood Peaks” event and it’s a pure success. The guy behind the beard is Murphy Mack. Everytime Murphy comes around, a racer would never fail to ask, “Is there going to be beer at the feedzone?” or “Is there beer at the finish?”
It’s a beer culture and yes, there was beer!
As mentioned earlier, this race ain’t for wimps. Racers started out with a promanade through the streets of old downtown Fort Bragg by police officers. Traffic halted as racers passed by cheering on and spectators honking from their cars. It felt like a parade into town until we really started racing. Pros and experts hit the front positioning and closing gaps 15 mins into the race. It was all sorted out just like that.
Single speeds, cyclocross bike and mountain bikes. It’s got everything for everyone! Choose how you want to suffer, your choice.
There’s only one way to describe the first 18 or so miles…climb. 3000+ ft to the summit. Along the way, you can either love or hate what you are feeling as you see those smart ass signs in your face. It can either motivate you or make you want to get off the bike and throw it off the side of the edge. Relentless climbing with spectacular views!
BUT…dowhill was super sweet!
THEN…that last 2 miles to the finish was about survival, except for the Pros/Experts of course!
Here are the top 5 favorite things about this race!
1. PEOPLE. Friendliest but competitive at the same time. How can that be? Great folks along with their family and friends. Cheering on for every single rider that comes in the last 50 meters to the finish line. Campground atmosphere is laid back. Awesome volunteers, both crew and locals. The town was happy to have the race and cheered on. The police officers happy to see rugged mountain bikers who look weird. A lot of fun and very welcoming.
2. LOCATION. There is a gate that opens up to a private lot with bbq pits and picnic arrangements. Camping under the quiet redwood trees and enough porta potties that stayed clean overnight was a big plus! Beautiful town of Fort Bragg with options for families to check out the local stores as well as eateries. Campground is only about four miles from town. Beach access and ocean views were spectacular.
The course is pretty much 99% fire trail surrounded with redwoods trees and not very technical. This is a race of pure endurance. Partially privately owned land and some public roads situated in remote area with very little public access. Ever bombed downhill for 8 miles on smooth, soft dirt ground? Just think about it…it’s called awesomeness!
3. FOOD AND SUPPORT. Three feed zones fully stocked with everything from Clif Bars and Shots and Shot Bloks to peanut butter sandwiches. Volunteers take your bottles to refill while you drink up to get you going without losing so much time. Photographer also at the summit!
Ahhh…post race meal. A spread of gourmet meal with Chef Dave on site. BBQ pit with big hunks of London Broil ready to be sliced and chicken. Vegan/vegetarian options? No problem. Check out the menu. Delicious!
4. OVERALL EVENT. What more can I say? Organized, prompt, well marked course, clear and concise communication to racers, awesome volunteers and crew members and fast results! The course is an endurance challenge that will push your limits.
5. COURSE SIGNS. Those are ridiculously funny, motivating but also annoying at the same time!
Kudos to Murphy Mack and all his crew members!
Raid on Sherwood Peak is definitely…
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