The 13th edition of the NoTubes Iron Cross Race went on this past Sunday and was a huge success! The new venue and course in Williamsport, PA was even better than the Kuhndog made it out to be. The freezing cold temps did not stop any of us from having a good time, in fact, it made it an even more memorable experience! Thanks to Abe with A.E. Landes Photography for shooting a bunch of great pics for a visual race- recap!
The start of the race was a cool 32 degrees, and didn’t rise much from there. Everyone had to dig out their winter clothes for this one!
After the pace car pulled away and the canon fired us off (yeah, literally, they fired a canon out of someone’s front yard across the road to start the race) things lit up right away! The pack went single file with some strong guys driving it on the front. About a mile later when we made the turn onto double track to start heading up the mountain, the pack blew apart. There were 3 riding off the front, then another group of 3, then myself hanging off of that selection. I yoyo’d with this group for the next few miles on the rolling grassy path that lead back to the main road of Rt. 44. I’d catch up to them on the faster downhill sections, then they would pull away when it went back uphill. Finally they put a gap on myself and the other Aaron (Snyder) going up the Rt. 44 paved climb, and we would ride together (sort of) for the next few miles. It was a sweet descent going down the other side where we dropped about 1,000 ft of elevation and passed the first aid station.
As we started up the next rocky climb, Aaron dropped his chain off the big cog of the cassette and must have spent a minute or so getting it untangled out of the spokes and back in gear. This left me on my own for about the next 10 miles, but was alright since the single track section was coming up. I was able to get in the zone on the trail and make up a lot of time on the group in front of me that were on CX bikes. I had a smile on my face the whole time through the rocky single track because this is where my mtb and my skills shine in this race, and I knew anyone on a CX bike was suffering through it! Hahah! I ended up passing 3 riders in front of me and made them regret their decision of riding those goofy bikes for the time being.
Aaron Snyder joined back up with me before the next major climb up Walters Rd. which had 5 switchbacks in it. This was probably the longest climb of the day and took about 25 minutes to get to the top. I dangled off the back of his wheel the whole way up and the invisible rope finally snapped once we crested the top. There was a lot of rolling gravel and false flat for the next few miles which I struggled with. At this point of the race I was starting to fall apart and hurt a bit, but pushed through it the best I could.
The next major obstacle was the dreaded hike-a-bike. I guess they’re usually called run- ups, but I can assure you, nobody was running up this thing. Just for reference, the Strava stats on this segment were 0.5 mile at an average grade of 26%. My method to this was simply mental preparation; everybody I talked to (that knew about it) told me how bad it would be and how much I would hate it. So, I just prepared myself for something never ending and miserable, so that when I got to the top I was like, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad, I’m done already!” It actually worked out alright and gave me a nice break from pedaling my bike.
Shortly before this fast descent, I was caught by Jesse Kelley and Nathan Goates. This played out pretty well, as I was able to get a draft from Nate as he sat on the top tube of his CX bike and approached 60 mph. If I was alone on my Mtb, I would not have been able to go that fast! Jesse then rode away from us on the final climb and left Nathan and I to work together the rest of the way. I ended up riding off on my own for the last 2 miles back into town and rolled in at 6th overall and 4th in the under 40 category, feeling pretty spent I might add!
Congrats to Ryan Serbel for taking home the overall win and also to anybody that finished this tough race! 65 miles and 6,700 feet of climbing is a solid day, especially on that terrain. Big thanks goes out to Mike Kuhn and the gang for putting in all the hours to organize such a cool event and making it so much fun for all of us.
That’s a wrap for me this year, it’s time to take a short break off of the bike and get back into building up for next year. I have some big things in the works! Thanks my sponsors for helping me make this a stellar year:
Trans- Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic
Era Ski and Bike shop
Until next time, peace out!