Race Report: The 2015 Bearscat 50 MTB Race “Gotta Give the Rocks Some Love” by MPF Athlete Evan Fineman

And no, rocks do not love you back...

The last time I raced the Bearscat 50 in Wawayanda I swore I wouldn't go back. I finished that race two years ago in about 6:55 or so.

As you all know the memory of the pain you experience fades with time. So I was at it again this year. And once again I signed up to race in the Singlespeed class. I had no time goal in mind but I knew I wanted a top 10. The course was extended this year to accommodate a prolog to ensure the groups thinned out before we got into the single track. Thus allowing riders to race the rocks instead of just piling up on top of each other.

This race terrain is unforgiving. It doesn't have the most climbing (5,200 feet) but rocks it has.  So it's as technical an endurance race as there is in the area. It is a prolog plus two 25 mile loops (course map).  

We lined up by estimated finishing times. I lined up right behind the pro/elites and we rolled out neutral till we hit the fire road and then it was game on.

I got myself a bunch of good drifts and cruised till the single track. Then the field separated even more and I found a nice crew to hang with. We were moving pretty good and I was happy with my legs. I skipped the first aid station at mile 18 as I had on a Camelbak and a bottle (cytomax- some of my carbs and calories) on board. I began feeling twinges in my hamstrings but I was drinking them away. It is a really hard course to eat on as it is so rocky. About 15 minutes later my bottle cage cracked off. I was able to dump my bottle into my Camelbak. But I was already feeling hungry and this was not a good thing. My plan was to just pick up bottles and roll but this was going to change that.

Had some issues with my SS out on course but I stayed focused and made adjustments.

The first lap was good. As I got into my second lap I was joined by a fellow singlespeeder who was riding strong in the rocks but was slower on the rollers. So at mile 30 I tried to ride away from him. And I did. But he came back and passed me about 5 miles later...and I never saw him again.

At that point (mile 35) I spent about 10 miles all alone on course and my body was hurting. I was beginning to get hurt by the technical sections. So I decided to focus on everything else.  Just not using the brakes at all and ripping as much as I could to make up for the crushing rock gardens.  

The cramping hands, back, and triceps were going to have be ignored.  

I got to the second to last trail (uphill) and just drilled it. I was not leaving anything out there.  

I caught another rider (geared) about halfway up and decided I would use him on the 1 mile plus road section to the finish. We came down the last trail which is a super fast downhill.  And he was on his brakes but I held back from passing him at that speed as he wasn't in my class and I had a plan. We hit the pavement and boom- my right hamstring decided it was done. Yes totally cramped up and that rider pedaled away as I was trying to stretch and will it away. I got it to calm down and then I spotted a guy in my class up the road. So I jumped on his wheel and silently began riding him in. As we passed some riders I know they yelled out "Go Evan" and "nice job guys". So he turned around and saw me sitting there...

He gave me a big smile and asked me if I was on a Singlespeed. We then rode side by side and he knew it was going to be an all out sprint after 51 miles of trail riding.

Then at about 200 yards out his friends who were watching began cheering him on. So he jumped. I pulled back behind his wheel and at 50 yards to go I jumped. And drilled it to the line leaving him in my dust. Yes that skill works out there too :)

I finished the 52 miles in 5:41. I took 8th in the SingleSpeed class (results).

I will definitely be back next year!

Evan's Athlete Page