Bear Brook Classic 2019
by Rick Harbison • June 11, 2019
This was my first time doing the Bear Brook Classic in New Hampshire, and a bit of a rude awakening as it happened to be my first time riding the mountain bike this year as well. It's been such a wet start to the season prior to the race I'd only ridden the road bike since I was waiting for the trails to dry out. Doing the race was also a bit of a last minute, hare brained scheme. Due to childcare constraints, I wasn't able to leave Portland until just a few hours before the start. After a white knuckle drive with (near) perfect navigation by friend and fellow racer Jake Riley, we arrived at Bear Brook a mere 40 minutes before the start. Fortunately, we were able to register, warm up, and do all the necessary pre-race activities just in time.
The race itself was 22 miles (two laps) of really fun, interesting singletrack all over Bear Brook. The singletrack ranged from super buff, fast and flowy in the beginning to technical and chunky for a few miles in the middle, then back to fast and flowy for the finish. At the start I did my best to get out in front before the singletrack, but still managed to get wrapped up in a fairly substantial conga line. With so much tight singletrack it was difficult to find opportunities to pass, and a little slow at times, but probably for the better since my strategy was to not over exert myself in the first lap. That, of course, is easier said than done, by the time I swung around to finish out the first lap I was in a tough place, both physically and mentally.
Fortunately, morale improved on the second lap. I swapped out a water bottle at the Start/Finish area and realized I had barely taken a sip the entire first lap (so much singletrack it was hard to find a section to drink). For lap two I made a point of getting more fluid in my body and eating some Gu's. This helped tremendously. Since the field was more spread out at this point I was also able to get into a better groove. I certainly gave it a good push throughout lap two, and towards the end I was beginning to feel the initial twinges of muscle cramping, a telltale sign of effort expended.
Overall I finished just outside the top ten for my age bracket (I believe I was 12th). Not my best performance, but for this race I was just happy to do it, to make it on time, to ride the mountain bike on new trails, and to kick off the season. Many thanks to State 9 Racing for putting on a great race and to Bikeman.com for the support.