You hear the name “Stoopid 50” and it makes you wonder just why this race is called that. Rumors have said it’s due to the 50-miles of challenging and rocky single-track that make up the race, and that anyone who would take on such a challenge may be slightly stoopid. But after 50-miles of amazing single-track through the gorgeous trails and fire-roads of Rothrock State Forest up in PA, you realize this race isn’t stoopid, but more like stoopid fun. Terri and I were back in action again after Massanutten and for my part, I was ready for redemption after my crashin’ and burnin’ last week. The pressure was on, especially after I read the pre-race brief from Shenandoah Mountain Touring and saw myself and the team mentioned. No crashing this week. No crashing.
The race started at 9am on Sunday morning, and despite some sporadic rain showers the day before, it was cool and sunny at the time of the race start. Speaking of rain, I was a little nervous about my tires, as they’re great for dry conditions, but not so good in the mud, but prior to the race, HUGE thanks to Kevin from DCMTB for helping me out with a all-around bomb-proof igniter on my front wheels to take on the 50. So just before 9am, about 300 or so of us mildly stoopid folks, lined up, ready to roll. The race started with a more or less neutral roll-out, along about 5 miles of mildly rolling pavement. Time to get the legs moving, have the heart rate rocket and then relax and try to shake out the initial nerves. Then we took an left hand turn and were into some sweet single track. Thankful again for my chunkier front tire as the ground was still slightly damp from the previous day’s rain. We twisted and turned through rocks and over roots, all lined with mountain laurel in full bloom. It was simply gorgeous. Climbing out of the mountain laurel, we crossed up and over a ridge-line that had amazing views of the surrounding mountains. The ridge was a bit rocky and somewhat technical, but the 29’er wheels floated over the rocks with an ease I’m still not used to. All too soon we descended off the ridge, and hit some fire road for a bit. I was feeling okay, a little grumpy since I dropped one of my gels – but at least we hit the first rest stop soon enough and I could refuel.
Back and rolling on some mild fire-road climbs, I entered yet another fun section of single-track. Here, the mountain laurel was even more incredible than before, the trails were super-muddy, and I managed to skid out and land in a bunch of mountain laurel, but nothing injured save my pride and I was up and rolling again. The trail snaked through the woods, across a few meadows and over a few more rock gardens. As I reached a pine-forest section, the skies were darkening and you could hear the ominous rumble of thunder. O dear. About five minutes later it started raining, I won’t go as far to call it a downpour, but it was steady enough to give me a solid soaking and turn the trails into little rivers of mud for a bit. At least it cooled things off, as the climbs earlier in the day had heated things up. But just as soon as it had sprung up, the rain was gone, and we were now riding in sunshine and mud. This may have slowed things down a bit as some spots were incredibly muddy and slick, but I tried to carefully plow through. Past the half-way point and I was still feeling pretty good. I rolled into the 2nd and final rest stop for a quick re-fuel (rest stops = amazing, especially since on long races I tend to eat/drink my weight in energy foods) and then headed up on what was billed as a “16-mile” climb up some fire-roads and double-track. Even though I’m not a huge fan of climbing, I’ll admit I’m fairly decent at it. I’m not fast, but I can stay steady pedaling uphill for a while, so here is where I actually started to pass folks. I don’t know if people had worn themselves out on the first 35 or so miles, but once I hit the climbs, I just kept moving forward. There were a few ripping descents during the long climb, and I still need to learn how to descend better, as one girl I passed on the climb went bombing past me on a downhill. Maybe my bike is too light … ha! Never 🙂 But the final few miles seemed to drag on, a series of long climbs with a few descents, and then one final, incredibly rocky and technical descent to the finish, which happened to be under a bridge in a creek. Awesomely refreshing and fun.
I finished in 6:26 – no land-speed record by any means, but good enough for 10th place in Open Women against the likes of pros such as the fast ladies of Team CF. The real prize at the end for me was the nifty pint glass and amazing BBQ, and having spent a great day on some really fun single-track. In her longest race to date, Terri finished soon after in 7:24 earning her a 2nd Place Podium spot in Master’s Women!! Congrats Terri!
So after riding the Stoopid 50, would I recommend the Wilderness 101, which goes along the same trails for just a “wee” bit longer? Definitely!