Rattling 50

Mike Kuhn Dog Kuhn, the promoter of the Transylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race, is also the propulsion behind several other awesome bike racing events in the Mid Atlantic area, one of which is the Rattling 50. Rumored to be The Best Endurance MTB Course in the Mid-Atlantic, the Rattling Creek MTB Marathon in Weiser State Forest represents some of the best east-coast style rock riding around. These trails have great flow despite the numerous rock gardens that demand careful navigation.

We stage at the bottom of a hill on a short road section. I’m looking around for who might be my competition today. I notice Jay Dodge, a fast rider whom I’ve been battling in the Michaux Endurance Series races. I also see Mike Laub whom is a long-time rival from USA Cycling Cross Country mountain bike events. Bill Nagel is here too. Bill won the Masters category in the National Ultra Endurance Series in 2009. I have no idea who the 15 or so other registered Masters racers are.

Bang!  We’re off on the short road section before a long three mile double-track climb to the top of the ridge.  Since this is a mass-start with 100 riders and there’s a gate at the beginning of the double-track climb that forces riders down to single file, I gunned it on the road. When we get to the gate, to my surprise it’s open this year.  I pass through the gate in 3rd place about 10 feet behind the elite Team CF duo of Chris Beck and Brandon Draugelis.  We stay close for a short while, but I’m out of my league and need to settle down. The leaders slip away.  Several more riders go by including Bike Doctor rider and my traveling companion Jed Prentice I do not chase.  I glance back down the hill and see the long line of followers.

We’re almost at the top of the first and really only sustained climb of the race, when Freeze Thaw rider Vicki Barclay passes. Vicki’s riding great right now having just come off of a win at the Wilderness 101 two weeks ago. I get on her wheel.

At the top of the climb, we dump out on a paved section that’s still climbing but the gradient is not that steep. I know the first single track is less than a mile away so I drill it again passing Vicki and several other riders. I’m banking on the fact that my Superfly 100 29er with front and rear suspension will be really in it’s element once we hit the rocks.


When we finally hit the single track, at first the rocks are pretty manageable. There’s great flow and my Superfly 100 damps the jolt of the impacts with the familiar kisss sound of the shock pneumatics. After awhile, in some sections the rock density increases to the point where the rocks are actually a formation that is best described as a bridge. There’s no dirt on these rock bridges… just rock. Pretty Awesome!

The 15 miles of flowey Weiser style rock riding between the start and the first aid station went by in a blur. The volunteers at aid-1 were ticking like a well oiled machine when I came through. There was a woman holding my replacement bottles in her hand before I even stopped! Ten seconds later I was off.

The remaining details of my race are not really that interesting. I felt pretty freakin’ awesome all day. I never saw Jay Dodge or Mike Laub. I crossed the line at 4:24, a good bit faster than last year and good enough for the Masters win… but still 24 minutes behind the winner, my rock star friend, Chris Beck. Jay finished 2nd Masters 7 minutes back. Mike crossed 2 minutes after that.

Chris Beck attacked his teammate Brandon on really the last gravel road uphill before the final downhill. It stuck. Brandon finished 2nd. Up-and-comer Patrick Miller had a solid ride finishing 3rd and my friend Jed Prentice had an improved ride over last year to finish 4th overall. Nice work fellas.

Vicki, despite having a less-than-stellar day won the woman in 4:40. I’m sure Vicki will be ready for Shenandoah. DC Velo rider Pam Frentzel-Beyme had a solid ride for 3rd place. Nice work Pam!

In the single speed, Mike Montalbano, one of the strongest single speeders in the country I think, won in 4:14. Smokin’ time. He’ll be challenging for the win at Shenandoah no doubt. Topher Valenti, whom I rode with for many miles during this race finished 3rd SS in 4:30. This, despite going off course late. Topher’s a Michaux mountain bike legend.

The Rattling 50 is east-coast rock riding at it’s best. The trail system in Weiser State Forest has great flow with plenty of rock gardens to challenge even the most technically accomplished riders. I like the fact that the 50 mile format attracts UltraEndurance athletes to race short and Cross Country athletes to race long. Mike “KuhnDog” Kuhn and his band of “tick” brothers and sisters at High Speed Cycling really know how to put on a well organized, well marked, and well supported race. This is a professional operation with a “grass roots” feel. The food and beverage afterwards is just icing on the cake. Thank you Momma KuhnDog for the delicious homemade cookies!

Next up the Shenandoah Mountain 100 with 400 of my closest friends. I can’t wait!

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