Young gun Patrick Lonney, a mechanic at the Ellicott City Race Pace and former downhill racer, jumped onboard with Old Line Velo veterans Tony Vachino, Jon Posner, and Dan Atkins to hit up the Massanutten HooHa weekend, an enduro race on Saturday and XXC on Sunday. Here is his race report:
Oh boy, what a weekend. For years the big guns around here have marveled over hoo-ha races. Always called the most epic, and beautiful trails around with a healthy dose of racing jammed in there. This year Jon asked me to tag along and man, was I right to accept.
After a full days work, we drove down and managed to snag the very last (defective and discounted) motel room in town at 12:30 am then promptly passed out. Only to awake with the anticipation of getting to ride WOODSBIKES for two days in beautiful country. However in this case, I’ll let it slide and call my trusty steed a mountain bike for this weekend. There were definitely some mountains.
Massaunutten, on a perfect day before the crowd shows up is absolutely stunning. Mountain ridges provide your back drop to the tasty berms at the finish of the course. So beautiful it took a while to realize that I kind of have to get my shit together for the punishing next two days of trail I had never seen before, with nothing but vague descriptions to roll on.
Day one, ENDURO!!! Three stages plus a seeding run. I made the cocky decision to bring my hardtail, a poor choice I have come to realize. The first seeding run was amazing, a short and very fast line through the woods. You know those stories of ribbons of trail placed perfectly through the woods? This is where they come from. Managed to snag a third in that just behind two locals. I thought to myself, oh man, if the trails are like this, I’m gonna do ok! Little did I know how many seemingly endless miles of rocks, roots and other tech lay ahead. Right after the seeding run the officials were back on the mic, “everyone begin the climb to stage two!” This was the big one. 25 minutes of sheer brutal pleasure. I’ve never seen a race course that was such back woods trail. Narrow, blind, dangerous, and so much fun. Of course, me being the stupid idiot I can be, forgot this climb was no race and (instead of slowly climbing or walking the hour and a half grind like the others) found myself at the top before any officials or racers. Confused, I decided I shall just sit and look around and make sure things are safe and secure up top. So I did, and was shocked by how amazing the near by ridges looked on this perfect day we had been delt. Shortly there after the OLV crew I had come with rolled over the ridge, then the rest of the field. Due to my seeding run results, I would be starting all three stages third, surrounded by wicked quick locals who practically build the trails and my Race Pace/OLV rivals. The two ahead left and disappeared, then I took off, damn near falling off the ridge due to a botched start and poor line choice. The crowd roared “your chain is off broo!” and I was on my way…the next 25 minutes are a hazy blur of every perfect trail condition you could want. The most wonderful high speed rocks, to wildly fast swooping turns, to trail features that had you guessing if you were really even supposed to ride them. This was the rest of the days theme. Always ending at our campsite for high fives and a scramble to the timing computer, I believe I ended up 16 or 17th behind my rivals but grinning from ear to ear.
Day two! Holy shit what was I thinking. Waking up after a solid night of buddies, beer, keg stands, and getting clipped in the head by an errantly thrown bike lock, we checked the map for the days XXC ride. The XC wasn’t enough for us apparently, two X’s means good luck fool. 27 miles, how hard could it really be? I was WRONG! We took off and did a loop of the normal xc course, which in essence was climbing everything we had descended the day before plus all the other climbs. It was spectacular. Doing well at this point, riding somewhere in between 10th and 20th , then came the real race, the second half is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted on a bike, physically and technically. Endless up hills followed by another uphill to really kill your stamina, then descents that had me begging for another climb to give my hands a rest, then repeat. Epic defines the course. I was on track to finish, I really do believe that. But at about the 70% mark I took a stupid line and hit the dirt. What am I talking about, I hit the rock. Just one, right in the face, hard. Really hard. That was the end on my ride. I scrambled off to the side, dripping blood in an impressive quantity. Lucky enough to find a ” clean” rag in my pack to halt the bleeding. The guy behind me came down shocked at what he was seeing, Steven I believe. Who was then kind enough to hike me the hour down the trail, a woozy and vomiting mess, to the medics, then they hiked me the next thirty minutes to the vehicle that returned me to the bottom. My face is still swollen as I write this, but I can assure you, there’s a smile underneath. Cheers! Great weekend.