When I do these events there always ends up being so much more than getting on the bike and heading out for a 50 mile technical, quad burning, roller coaster ride. Granted, it takes a day of driving home and piecing it together, but the folks of MORE, MD State Parks and the “Patapsco Army” are throwing a hell of a good time.
For those of you not in the know, MORE (Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts) put on an Epic series: The Patapsco and MOCO (moreepics.com). Pick your distance, fully supported, fully fun. Last year I cracked and had to rely on some friends (and pickles) to reel me in at the Patapsco Epic. This year I knew better than to underestimate this trail system… and I drank a lot less the night before.
First off, it’s the trail system. PVSP (Patapsco Valley State Park) is not for the faint of heart. It can and will break you, I don’t care who you are. The combination of technical, elevation, roots, rocks and constantly being on is like very few places. There’s a reason some of the best riders I know are mainstays of that park. And now with the “Army” growing in numbers and behind the guidance of two of the sickest people I know, yes you, Ed Dixon and Eric Crawford, the trails are growing and going further out. There’s new trail and a new mix of technical and head shaking.
This years loop was basically the reverse of last year, which made it more friendly in some spots and more difficult in others. I liked it better, mainly because I wasn’t a heap of cramps at mile 40… but it had a better flow for me and put you in a better position when you were headed to the finish. Even if you blew up your derailleur and had to ride the last 15 on a 3 speed.
This event is also about the people, I mean, ultimately they make the whole thing happen and set the tone for the time you have. I said it last year and I think they got better… but MORE and this crew of volunteers do it right. Every shop from the Baltimore area puts in on an aid station. From Race Pace and their photo booth to Family Bike Shop’s full pancake and sausage breakfast… to The Hub shucking Oysters to Amber from Patapsco Bike and Sport pouring the last drop of Skratch out of the barrel into my bottle. They’re all in… and are so proud of their park, it’s a real community.
Of course my kids rode the Patapsco Mini Epic with their cousins and Aunt and Grandfather… and then ran around, jumped in the river, ate a mountain of food and basically had the best day of their lives. New Belgium donated all of the Beer. The three food trucks, including a vegan option, were not a terrible idea either. REI there in full support, BIKE Maryland and so many other sponsors that see the hard work that the cycling community is doing in that Park and want to support in any way they can.
So, there’s always so much more than the ride; the stories, the people, your friends, the trails, your kids, the suffering, the accomplishment, the laughs, the beer. I rode part of the 50 miles with a friend I used to ride skateboards with in my backyard 30 years ago. The obligatory Tom Howe/Wicked Wash ride along at any endurance event I’ve ever done… I can’t do one without that. Or this guy, Dante… he decided it would be a good idea to go for his first mtn bike ride on the 50 mile Epic, the night before. And of course, Poz and the guys from Race Pace made sure they did anything they could so he could finish.
I’m all in on these guys and the Epics. It’s not a race but it’s the challenge. Get out to the MOCO in October, come check out these trails and these folks… you’ll get everything you want and more.
And for me, 7hrs and 50+ miles… and next a shot at redemption at the SM100.