Stage races like next week’s Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage race offer less insane suffering each day and a chance to take in a different challenge each day but sometimes getting off work all week can be tough for the masses so they seem to have some ceiling to the participant base.
Perhaps they’ll become more like professional events on the road. The 100 milers are ridiculously hard, but they are so fun and only take a long day to do. I have gotten accustomed to the length after doing six in the last three months. Perhaps the sweet spot is around 100k + (60-80 miles in ‘Merican.).
They allow for some explosive racing with less filler (aka flat roads) and they don’t beat the daylights out of the weekend warrior. It’s often painful to watch riders arrive at 10 pm by headlight at the Shenandoah 100. Props, no doubt, but how often do you want to do that? Couple times a year for me.
Ultracross is a cool idea but just seems fringe at the moment, with most money press and pomp at the UCI contests. However this could blow up like Leadville has if it were presented correctly. And as my buddy Ryan Trebon would say, “never mind.” He would also just say “that’s stupid” — probably because he cracks like an egg at the 4 hr mark.
Whereas Tim Johnson thinks they are pretty cool. I guess I’ll just have to go check out the queen of ultracross, the 3 Peaks in Great Britain and decide. If you want to check out the best ultracross race in the U.S. go to Iron Cross. It’s pretty rad, besides if you like a 20-second run-up, you’ll love running up a 35% mountain slope!
Personally my favorite has to be stage racing. Why? Well, you just can’t beat the excitement. Each day you’re holding on to every second and you don’t know how important they will each be in the end. Its nervous suspense. With different styles and lengths of stages the short track guy can win the prologue, the 100-miler dude can thrive on the queen stage and the technical rider can crush it on the rocky singletrack 2-hour stage.
And you get to change bikes for every stage if you want. Just ask Adam Craig! He and my gravity teammate Jerome Clemetz are prepping now for a Downhill/Enduro stage race called the Mavic Trans Provence
Anyway you cut it, the evolution is happening fast. More races are getting more people out there on bikes, pushing innovation in the industry and even converting some jaded road racer friends of mine who are tired of the same old same old who are now taking a liking to going big (or skinny on a ‘cross bike).
For me, now it’s time to get back to prep work, choosing how much New Belgium Beer and waffles it will take to revive everyone after an epic day on the dirt. I’m stoked to mix it up again with our charity dirt/pavement/road adventure challenge race/ride party!
For sure fall is upon us here in Virginia and change is in the air, and so is the cool crisp riding weather.
Enjoy the ride!
Cannondale Factory Racing
Jeremiah Bishop’s occupation has always been Adventurer/Explorer, which led him to his career as a pro mountain biker. He races full-time for Cannondale Factory Racing, has over 100 race wins, including eighth place at worlds, and is a two-time U.S. national champion in short track and marathon. Jeremiah is an ace stage racer and a star of the ultra endurance race scene. He is also a cycling coach (on pavement as well as dirt) and stays true to his adventurer roots by fishing, hosting the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo charity event and getting in extra time outdoors with his family. Check out Jeremiah’s regular Singletrack.com column with pro tips about racing, training and life, Go Big or Go Bigger