The 6 Hours of Brady's Run was an unscheduled race that I decided to participate in, sort of at the last minute. The determining factors were, in order of importance, the "OK" from my wife (always important), the recovery from the Cohutta 100 two weeks prior, and the weather forecast (only concern was the heat as they forecast upper 80's). Got the "OK" to go, recovery was looking good, and the forecast, while hot, looked great! So I was all in.
Where: Beaver Falls, PAI drove to Bear Falls, PA the morning of the event since it was only 1:36 drive time and the race started at 10am. I have never ridden the course and of course did a bit of research by reviewing the course on their web site, reading other race reports, and watching youtube videos. The format of the race is to complete as many laps of the 8.1 mile loop as many times as you can within 6 hours. Each lap has one mile of fire road at the start and has roughly 950 feet in elevation. The single track is fairly non-technical, but there are a few spots that can bite you if you are not careful or are timid.
When: 5/9/2015 (my birthday ;-)
Photos Credit: Mike Briggs (great guy and photographer extraordinaire)
I got there by 9am after getting misdirected by Google Maps on my iPhone and with some help from my good friend Brad Rogers who has gotten there a few minutes prior to my arrival. Brad is a beast on the MTB, as seen my his awesome performances in the OMBC series, and so one of my goals for the race was to just try and keep him in sight. My single track skills are lacking so being able to keep up with him would be a good test for me on a mostly single track course.
We both got checked in, set up the easy-up, and got our fuel in place. We met up with Billy Slutz, a recent acquaintance, and quickly becoming good friend (just an awesome guy!), brought his wife and daughter to the race for support. It worked out REALLY well for me because she was a complete ROCK STAR and helped me out with my re-fueling for each lap when I need it. MAJOR PROPS to her for such a HUGE help during my race and of course for supporting all three of us!! Brad and I did a small warm-up on the fire road climb and then we all lined up for the 10am start.
Typically I do not start out fast. I "think" I am more of a diesel that starts slower and picks up speed throughout the race (as proven by my negative split on the LAST lap of the race), but I have been tinkering with jumping out of the gate faster than usual. This race was no exception. As soon as the horn blew we were off and a fast pace (ok, fast for me). Brad quickly came up alongside me and I did my best to hang onto his wheel. Once we hit the double and single track you hit a climb and Brad made a move on FOUR guys and was now ahead of me. New plan ... keep Brad within eyesight. ;-)
The first couple miles of the course is mostly climbing and once you get to the top you cross a paved road and dump back into some nice smooth flowing single track. The ST basically takes you up and down and up and down. The ups are not all that bad honestly, compared to an NUE 100 miler where the ups can go for upwards of 10 miles at a time. These up, while punchy at times, were short lived. One of the sections that could get you if you were not on your game was a river crossing within the first half of the loop that had some rocks in the river and then rocks on the opposite side. I managed to clear it 4 out of the 7 times I passed through there, never dumping, but certainly three times had to unclip for various reasons. I just rolled the bike a few feet up and remounted. I never walked the bike more than a few feet. There were a few climbs that had loose rocks and some roots, but nothing all that terrible and technical compared to some of the terrain that I was introduced in 2014 when I took on the Wilderness 101 (angry rocks) and the Shenandoah 100. Just over half way around the loop there was a guy with an easy up that had cold water available. I have to say that I took advantage of that about 3 times. I was going through fluid like nobodies business and I think it was the third lap that I just plain ran out of fluid in my camelback so the site of him with cold water was a VERY welcome site. The temps started around 75 degrees and I would be surprised if they did not hit 90 at mid-day.
After passing the half way point the trail is super flowy with only 2-3 small punchy climbs. The last section has a couple of tight rooted sections. The second set of roots always seemed to give me trouble and I think it was my third loop that I washed out the front wheel and did a shin-to-root dive. Yep, that left a mark. I think I only failed to clean that section 2 out of the 7 laps I completed and finally figured it out by the fourth or fifth lap. Once you clear that last set of roots you hang a right down a very lose fast descent and then you dump back out into the race start where I would re-fuel for the next lap.
So, since this is a loop format race, basically .. rinse and repeat x7. Any time someone would pass me, I asked one question, Solo or Duo? See, the Duo guys are teams of two and the only requirement is that each rider had to complete a minimum of two laps. You could tell when these guys went by because, 1) they were clean and their bikes were clean and 2) well ... they flew by you because they had not been out riding since 10am. Kudos to them and all of the riders that day! In fact, there is a unicycle category and yes FIVE crazy people were out there on unicycles, men and women! Wow! I gave them props every single time that I passed by a unicyclist. That takes some serious practice, guts, and determination. I only recall maybe a couple guys in the Solo Men's categories that passed me and apparent they were in the Open Men's category and not the Master's 40+.
All of my times were under an hour with I believe 57 minutes being my longest lap time on the sixth lap and then I turned over a 55 minute lap on my seventh lap. I knew that if I could complete 7 laps that I could be in the running for the podium and the podiums go five deep, with cash for the 1/2/3 and prizes for 4/5.
Brad did very well however seeing as how he had raced both prior weekends (Big Frog 65 two weeks ago and then a very tough OMBC race one week ago where he took first place) was probably missing a bit of his endurance. Not having much recovery will do that to anyone. Billy had a great race and took 5th in the Masters 40+ by completing six laps. Awesome job Billy!!
I ended up completing seven laps, which was my goal from the start, in six hours and four minutes (6:04) and much to my surprise won the Solo Master's 40+ and took 5th in Solo Mens overall. Crazy! I would never have expected that in a million years.
It was an awesome day on the bike and a very well run event. I have only raced one other loop format race, the 6 Hours of Power, and swore up and down I would never race one again (just ask my wife and she will confirm). I guess the decision to race the 6 Hours of Brady's Run paid off. Literally. First cash prize I have ever received for racing my MTB. Pretty cool!
Hope to see you all out on the trails! Ride On!
P.S. - Here is a shot of one cool looking unicyclist. I believe he took first place with 3 full laps! Wow!
~ Scott Morman