The 4th race in the U.S. Forces Europe mountain bike championship series was held in Hohenfels, Germany last weekend on a tremendously tough course. I had no chance to preride, so the first lap would be interesting. Laps were 15km and had a little bit of everything from tight and twisty singletrack, fast 1-track descents, 1-track climbs, and jeep road climbs. One section I dubbed “little Ireland”, situated in thick canopy, steep singletrack through the longest rock garden I’ve seen, which was mostly unrideable. Singletrack sections were nicely broken up with fire roads, allowing for passing. Most of this course with some additional singletrack will serve as the USFE championship race in September, and I think it more than deserves that honor.
The race director surprised everyone at the prerace meeting with the news we would be using a Lemans start, historically reserved for 24hr and SS racing. The bikes were strategically placed at the start line, mine being the only 29er amongst some high end Cube and Scott FS carbon bikes that sure look pretty, almost as if they had never seen dirt, but if I had a high dollar machine I would probably take care of it as well.
The gun went off and heels were flying, 200 or so meters of grass stood between us and the bikes, a pack arrived with no flyers, and I was second to get the machine rolling on a short paved section before the 1-track started. I passed the one guy who stood in my way and entered the singletrack first. A downhill section with tight corners, and I new immediately I was going to enjoy this race. I lost track of my geographic location for awhile, thinking I may have slipped through a black hole and reappeared in Colorado on the Super Loop race course.
The course kept you honest, concentration was key, and how there were only a few skirmishes with trees is truly amazing. Singletrack opened to jeep roads, allowing for nutrient intake, and then right back up/down singletrack that would put a grin on anyone’s face from ear to ear.
The race went well with no major mechanical issues other than an instance of chain meet spokes and an out of true rear wheel that noticeably reduces efficiency, and I cruised over 30km in 1:47, good enough for 1st out of a small field of 2o some racers. Angela did only 1 lap, and was waiting for me as she crushed her closest competitor by more than 13 minutes. She is really riding strong and the key to her success is motivation, which she might just have.