Mooch Madness recap!
The MTBNJ Crew was extra busy this weekend. Not only were they racing, they were promoting the race! It was a huge effort and many many woman and man hours of work went into prep and execution. Here are some of the recaps as written by the individuals, who in between racing were doing things like directing cars, taping the course, working at the registration table, organizing the start/finish line, and countless other tasks that pop up during an even like this.
On with the recaps:
Iggy – Cat 1 45+ class
Going full tilt boogie in a race requires fitness, I got to about 1.5 laps before I ran out of FTB (Full Tilt Boogie = highest sustained power). You know you’re on it when everyone in front of you is going too slow and you pick your way around them. This feeling left me halfway through the race. Despite this I was able to hold on to 3rd, which I can’t complain about.
The Mooch course is my home turf, I’ve ridden it so many times, Freakin Middle is freakin awesome. After years of racing and riding it I’ve come to love it. I also love my SS, it’s light, nimble and fast, which is how I’d describe myself after 10 yrs of mtb racing. Don’t get me wrong , my SC Tallboy is great too, but for xc racing the simplicity of my SS is something that suits me. Big suspension bikes are popular now but don’t underestimate the joy of a rigid SS and what you can do on it.
Photo credit @capedoc, Ride Stans Wheels, Schwalbe tires and keep Gu in your pocket .
Despite having a rough start to the season and doubting whether I even wanted to race, I lined up next to some incredible Cat 2 Women. The weather was chilly, the rain had made things slippery and my legs were really hurting… but I never gave up because I LOVE ROCKS! Unfortunately, I didn’t have much energy and I felt like my bike weighed a ton, but I refused to give up. The thing that kept me going? Hearing all the cheers and support from teammates and other racers on the course! Mooch might not be my best race but it’s certainly one of my favorites!
Photo by @BrianGT3
Glenn Cat 2 45+
Going into this race and coming off my second place finish 2 weeks ago. My only expectation was to do better than my 8th place finish of last year.
I was first into the single track at the top of the start finish straight.
Thinking that this can’t be possible I was passed after getting stuck in the first mud hole crossing. Knowing it’s a very technical and demanding course l decided to let him go. After pushing as hard as I could. I caught and passed the leader just before the end of lap 1. Never looking back and having a faster second lap by 1 minute.
I went on to WIN my first ever MTB race !Thanks Stan’s No Tubes for sealing up my morning tire puncture and those awesome Valors for never letting me down. And dont forget Schwalbe tires for giving me the confidence to push hard all day.
Jeremy Short Cat 1
The beauty of the MTBNJ Allamuchy H2H race is even if you don’t have a great race, its still a great ride. Unlike other courses which can seem like a chore, this course is 97% singletrack. There are loads of rock gardens which require attention (meaning you can’t just plow over them), rewarding downhills, and even the climbing while painful, is always followed by more fun. The new Racing Ray front tire was the right choice for the varying conditions and of course the Stan’s carbon wheels made my bike float up the climbs. The only equipment issue was operator error.
I came into the race having just gotten over a bug earlier in the week (#dadlife). My ride the day before gave me some confidence, but as soon as the race started I knew I didn’t have my good form. I lost more battles then I won, but still came out in 4th.
Magic – Cat 2 19+
Between feeling slightly under the weather, and… the weather, I pretty much called off racing Mooch and brought my camera. Leaving for vacation this week, I wanted to keep the risk of getting sick or hurt to a minimum. I decided to venture out into the Short Track loop area for a couple photos. Throughout the morning I started feeling better, which led me to believe that it may just have been severe allergies after course marking the day prior, and not a cold. Then it stopped raining. One thing led to another, and I was changing ~20 minutes before go time.
The course was in excellent shape despite the rain, and I’m certainly glad I suited up for a few laps. The climbs hurt, the allergies sucked, and the downhills were AWESOME. Somewhere on Freaking Middle, my rear wheel slipped cranking up a little rock hop up and I was thrown off the back as I couldn’t unclip fast enough from the thick mud in my pedals. Hopped back on the bike with a couple of blood tattoos to prove that I raced. My fitness may still be severely lacking, and I’m still up a few pounds from last year, but I at least kept it consistent and felt good to be out there. As Brian properly summarized, I was out for a Sunday bike ride. But a great bike ride it was.
On more race in my first year doing the full H2H Race Series. Sticking it out in Singlespeed class.
Race was a lot of fun and would summarize this race in the lessons I’ve learned.
-I have to trust that I have the fitness and not hold back as much. I could have pushed a bit more especially at the beginning.
-It takes me awhile to warmup which doesn’t help with a long uphill start to a race.
-I need to trust those Nobby Nics as they have way more traction than I give them credit for.
-The excitement of passing someone diminishes when I realize they are not in my class.
Mooch. I was really looking forward to this one. Not only because I really like the race route, but also because it was my very first race last year, and the climb sucked the soul out of me. I was glad that the rain held off some for the cat3 start. Seems all we do right now is race through mud! Went out hard and was swearing by the thought of who came up with the idea to start us at the bottom hahaha. What kept me going was the sweet DH payoff that I knew was coming up, and it didn’t disappoint. Swearing on my way to the finish: WHY DO I HAVE TO START AND FINISH in an uphill battle??
Overall it was what I hoped for: tons of fun, with tons of great fellow racers! Did I get my redemption? Not so much: I had 2 time killers in form of being to close to a rider that ended up in me having to get off my bike as well, and then getting caught in rocks due to a heavy gear and falling over (also loosing my gps). While climbing the podium for third last year with a time off 40:36.5, I was climbing the even higher podium to first place with a time of 41:45, simply because I showed up and don’t mind riding the mud 😉 I put in the work, so I’ll happily take it.
Steve Allen said Tragedy plus Time equals Comedy. Or like Iggy says, I like turtles.
In my world, Mooch Rocks plus not spending enuf Time on them equals DNF. Or, like a turtle, I got shelled.
Lap one was alright. It got a bit wetter on the second one, and everything went out the window. Wet rocks, new bike, wrong tires…
(Why, oh WHY didn’t I take the time to put on the Stan’s Arches with the Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Rocket Ron combo?)
This IS NOT the race to ride a new-to-you bike for the second time. Not when the rocks are also new-to-you.
Pre-ride. Then pre-ride again. I’ve got this written in marker on my forehead. I can’t remember writing it. Weird.
Going into the third lap, I’d pulled the pin, but forgot to stop. The grenade was bound to go off – just a matter of time. When I got the bottom of Ice Cream, known to people who can ride bikes as “that INCREDIBLE 8 minute downhill OHMYGAHDOHMYGAHDOHMYGAHDOHMYGAHD!!!”, I couldn’t feel my fingers and my back was completely locked up. I was actually worried about eating it on the Short Track rocks. Instead I ate my feelings (and remaining GU gels, which taste great mixed with tears), and rolled up the fire road to the race start.
On the plus side, I got to watch a lot of folks have a great time out there as I warmed myself by the burgers and ate a fire or two.
Huge shout out to Stans and Schwalbe. Riding the wrong stuff is a great way to remind yourself that the right stuff makes a difference.
I like turtles. They’re mostly rock-free, right?
Also, thanks @BrianGT3 for catching the one moment where I didn’t look like a ladder falling down a ladder.
Bill (Shrpshtr325) cat 1/2 15+(2nd race in this cat/group)
Decided to bring my Stache (hardtail) this time instead of my fuel, which ended up being a good call. Right off the line I’m holding my own mid-pack to the top of the fireroad and through the bottleneck into the single track. The first Mud bog is where it turns, the guy in front of me gets stuck in the mud hanging me out to dry while the two guys behind me take the wide line and pass us both. From there its pretty smooth going through most of the first lap, the rain starts picking up as I drop down the hill towards short-track. Lap 2 is where it gets exciting as I find myself passing several people (mostly endurance guys I believe) and the conditions are getting more slippery, around 1/4 of the way through the lap some guy in bright green jersey starts to catch me, I can see him on all the switchbacks. I manage to hold him off up to short-track but i get held up by someone who doesnt make the roller leading into the short-track section which allows him to catch up. I spend the short track section fighting to keep him behind me until we get back to the start/finish line and the fire road climb starting lap 3. I gap him up the hill and dont see him again at all during lap 3 (not until after I finish). Lap 3 slowly went to hell even tho the conditions were generally improving, exhaustion was setting in and the easy features were becoming harder, climbs that I rode on laps 1 and 2 were a struggle, about 1/2 way through i started to catch people who were also running out of juice, they were walking features which didnt have easy passing zones which meant I had to get off and walk, but got passed them for the most part by single track, through single track I was chasing down a black/green jersey (turned out to be a HB guy) who I managed to pass on the final climb up the fire road. (saw the guy in the green jersey as I was cruising back to the parking lot after finishing, he was just starting the climb as I finished) 11 out of 15 in the group, not too bad for a first season (2nd race) with the big boys. All in all a fun, challenging race, will be back for more.
Aside from the cold and rain, the race was fairly predictable. At the start, Matt, Szymon, Gabe and Jordan blast off up the road and quickly leave myself, Greg, Nick, and everyone else behind….like WAY behind. After about 15 seconds Greg causally pulls up next to me and says “huh where are they going?”….I had no answer for this, but in short order they were GONE. They were long out of sight by the time we hit the woods….Greg lead Nick and I thru the first section, then started pulling away on the freaking middle section. I passed nick who was having issues with the rain on his glasses….Not long after I saw Matt on the side with a flat. I had a ton of daylight after than and I spent the rest of lap 1 running down Gabe. Chased him for the rest of lap 1 and most of lap 2 before finally passing him near the end. Course went from slick to SUPER slick once the rain started. Went thru the start/finish where Norm told us we were battling for 2nd…Which doing the math in my head must have meant 2 other people flatted? Dam…Gabe re passed me on the start/finish climb, but he took a bad line thru the mud puddle and i went around him again. Unlike last week at Ringwood where I sat behind him thru skylands, I was hoping I could put a gap on him thru freaking middle….enough so that I could hold him off for maybe half of the big climb and keep him in sight at the start of the DH. He passed me right about the middle of the climb and I worked hard to keep the gap in check…..Erased most of it on the downhill and was hoping to catch him again in the short track section, but he really dropped that hammer and I couldnt get there. Good race,solid effort, most of all really fun.. Best I have felt all year for sure….finished 4th.
Mbruno (Pro Open, DFL but not DNF)
Mooch. 3rd race of the season, 1st with new team, lots of familiar faces, friends, competitors. Feeling confident after podium the prior week. Fitness is coming around.
Last time I raced Mooch was 3ish years ago. That race ended shortly after it started. Flatted on lap 1, put in tube, flatted that. No patches, walked out. Hoping for a better result this go round.
Start is hard, fast, but rolling with a group of guys I’m comfortable with. Slot in 4th place heading into single track. Feeling held back a bit on the technical features. No good place to pass, but comfortable pace, so let’s see how this all shakes out.
Half way through lap 1, rear tire feels really squishy… Thoughts… “God say it ain’t so, cursed race, shouldn’t have shaven my mustache 2 days prior, 17 psi was a risky move, stans should hold it.”
Nope. Hop off, inflate, chase group goes by, then rest of field, DFL. Rear tire seems to be holding air. Go into the red for 5 minutes to catch back, don’t quite make it. More squish. Damn… hop off, inflate, cat 1 leaders go by.
Ok… rear feels like 8 psi, but holding, let’s baby this thing on lap 2. Use “anger watts” to catch cat 1 lead group, exchange pleasantries, grab a pump from someone in the pit. Ok! Feeling confident. Back on the gas, rail the slick rock downhill.
Nope. Too much confidence. 2/3 through lap 3, rear is totally flat, no more juice left in my CO2 cartridge, didn’t bring a spare. Ride in on the flat, try to sprint for one place better than DFL. Nope.
Afterwards. Friends, burgers, San pellegrino (classy), new teammates who still relentlessly encourage and support a complete disaster in pink socks with no mustache. Disappointed? Sure. But, not a bad day.
My first ever outing at Allamuchy was last year in 2018 for round 3 of H2H. during this race I was absolutely destroyed in Men’s 15-45 Cat 1. I knew right at the start I had nothing for that race and ran out of juice 3/4 through lap 1. Felt like quitting after lap 2 but kept pushing and ran 3 super slow and hurting getting passed by pretty much everyone. I finished DFL. Mooch was one of many Cat 1 races in ’17 & ’18 were I’ve struggled on the northern jersey gnar, this includes ringwood, allamuchy, wawayanda. Memories of this race were often recalled during winter training in the gym as motivation to push.
Post Ringwood some mental notes were made. I made it out to Sourland Mountain on Wednesday to get reacquainted with rocks and tech riding. I put so much emphasis on building power over the winter I neglected to mountain bike and my comfort on rock. Aside from the Sourland Epic XC ride I forced myself to not ride, not workout and relax. Took Thurs and Fri off. I knew from years prior on it’s so critical to give your body time to recover the week in between back2back race weekends.
Thankfully I played my cards right this year and happy to report things went much better this go round!
Prior to the race I was able to get out and take a bunch of photos of the endurance and cat 3 riders. Took a bunch more of the Cat 2 riders w/o my bike because the legs were absolutely toast. After snapping pics this past weekend and at short track, I found you can learn quite a bit watching other riders tackling rocks on the course. Key factor is to always keep your weight centered on the bike! Also I had to opportunity to scope out some of the trail and conditions.
At the start I felt comfortable powering up the fire road up front with the group. Looking down at my garmin I saw the heart rate in the high 170’s and knew if I really wanted to I could’ve jumped out of the seat and put down some power if needed. I also knew this race was 3 laps, and some fuel would be needed in that tank lap 3. I was also mindful of the weather, rain was inbound which would soak the course and make things slick. After Ringwood the week prior (wet race) this certainly dictated reserves were essential for lap 3. A few minutes into this race I found myself slotted into 4th place behind @jShort. Then the dude the crushed the Ringwood race in our class was hiking his bike back to the start, so now I’m in 3rd. Put it into cruise control and hung on Jeremy’s wheel. Some point I got around Jeremy and was in 2nd. So far I was feeling pretty good this lap and knew I had it in me to go the distance.
Put some power down on the fireroad start and tried to gap Jeremy and Jeff. This strategy worked but then I caught some riders in bad spots in the tech stuff which put the two of them back on my wheel. At some point Jeff passed Jeremy and latched onto my wheel. Conditions were getting slick this lap due to some rain. I was riding very conservatively on the rocks to avoid mistakes and recover and trying to push a bit on the climbs to open gaps. Jeff hung with me. Ditched my glassed end of this lap because the rain and mud was preventing me from seeing where I was going.
Feeling the fatigue kick in, Jeff is still on my wheel, but he hasn’t passed. He’s either tired like me, waiting to pounce, or waiting to sprint to finish. I make a small mistake and he passes me. Matt Bruno was having some tire issues and was closing in on us. Jeff thought Matt was Jeremy and gapped me. Legs were hurting good and I had nothing to reply. In the photo I was 3/4 through lap 3 hanging on and digging to muscle throuigh the rocks. Kept pushing and finished the race in 3rd, about 2 minutes off first place. My first podium finish of 2019.
Afterword I was absolutely gassed, but happy I put a 100% effort in this race. Looking forward to Steward and Kittatinny which will have less rocks and hopefully drier conditions.
The team had an excellent showing this past weekend, representing the orange & blue. Full results can be found here.