Rocky Point 50 Mile MTB Race by Evan Fineman

This race was held in Rocky Point State Pine Barrens Preserve (who knew?). This was a brand new race for the promoter and the course as well.

I went in knowing two things: it was flat and it was Long Island. And I came away with a greater appreciation for what they have out there. The course was super nice- really tight flowy single-track that just ripped through windy tree lines. The pine forest was a combination of sand and hard pack, which I have never really ridden any of.

I registered for this race as a tune up, gear check, and leg check for my upcoming Vermont 50 MTB race in 2 weeks. The distance is the same but that’s where the similarities end…

The open single speed class was my pick for the day as I needed to work on my spin (and spin I did) and that it was a mass start- I love mass starts on the singlespeed because I can line up on the front and mix it up.

The race was 3 laps of 17 miles- with a prologue of 1 mile- the start was nice and fast but not over the top. I really tried to lean on the local teams as I knew the local knowledge was going to be fast. I squeezed up to about 10th and sprinted to enter the single track in about 12th- almost where I wanted to be. The group I was with began letting the front group of about 6 guys go off the front and the guy in front of me just couldn’t keep up through the turns. The (close the gap) yelling from behind started and he got even more rattled. So I made a move and blasted by him using the spare 3 inches of trail to pass.

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I chased for a good mile of lumpy, twisty, moguls to make the next group and worked with them for a bit as I put in a huge effort to bridge up. As I was chasing that group had also let a group go which I never caught. We worked together for a while, I let them lead for a bit as I had never ridden the course before, and home court advantage was huge on this course. 6 of us rode the trees like nobody’s business. I sat on the back and all of us had about 3 inches between our wheels just carving the trees...any mistakes and that would have been the day for all of us. What a thrill.

I rode with them for a bit, they pulled me through the 1st lap and then I had to go; their pace had slowed and the race was going to get away. I put in a big effort and made it stick on the next little hill and gradually dropped all of them. I had great timing and hooked onto a solo rider’s wheel about 6 miles from the finish of lap 2. He was crazy- he got into a TT position and pulled me till the end of lap 2, he then blew up and I grabbed a bottle.

Unfortunately, I downed it way too quickly and I started to cramp but I pushed through the cramps and rode the 3rd lap solo. At one point I saw the 2nd place SS rider above on the climb so I knew I had to just keep digging deep. I just zipped by the mile 12 aid station and buried myself to the finish line.

I finished the race as the 1st SS racer to finish (11 minutes ahead of 2nd place) and 6th overall (results). Time to get myself some fresh legs and keep pushing forward.