Ironcross 2010: Reliving the (painful) memories

A long ride to Larry’s Tavern

Run-what-ya-brung, even if it breaksBy Josh Patterson

It never ceases to amaze me how, despite my lack of training, my ego is still eager to dole out suffering to my woefully unprepared body. I could not have been more unprepared for this race. I haven’t been training, haven’t even been riding much the past several weeks and it was the fist time I threw a leg over my new test bike, a shiny new BH RX1 ‘cross rig. Speaking of bikes, unlike Britain’s Three Peaks Race — which only allows riders to tackle the course on cyclocross bikes — Ironcross still has a run-what-ya-brung vibe.

The right tool for this type of racing?

In my opinion it is a ‘cross bike shod in the fattest tires your frame can clear and piloted by someone with mountain bike skills, or maybe skillz… Either way, the 100k (62 mile) concoction of pavement, fire roads and singletrack that is Ironcross has more in common with gravel road racing than a mountain bike race. There are also barriers at the start and finish to remind participants this still a cyclocross event.

And let’s not forget about the most entertaining obstacle, the Spiral of Death. It sounds worse than it is, and I doubt anyone has actually died, but being surrounded by almost 300 riders charging full speed into the center of a spiral then hanging a hard right to wind their way out is a very disorienting sensation. It’s also quite comical.

Top female finisher Vicki Barclay from Freeze Thaw CyclesUpon exiting the spiral and navigating a second set of barriers it was time to hit the open road. The conditions could not have been better: clear skies, mild temperatures and leaves that were the perfect shade of autumn. This perfect day almost made up for the brutally long climbs and high-speed dirt road descents that left my fingers numb and my palms blistered. Almost.

I was self-sufficient for the whole ride, forgoing the aid stations in favor of eating on the go. Save for one stop that was too good to resist. As I crested the top of the last singletrack climb I came across Larry’s Tavern, smack dab in the middle of the trail. By tavern, I mean a blue E-Z UP tent and a cooler of PBR. As I approached, the "barkeep" (presumably named Larry) saw my jersey and exclaimed, "Hey, Dirt Rag!" and handed me a beer.

I’d been called out.

Out of professionally courtesy I promptly chugged the beer and went off to finish the race. I wish Larry would have had his "tavern" set up at each aid station, that last five mile ride to the finish was the best I felt all day.

Event promoter Mike Kuhn is already hatching plans for next year, including 50k (30 miles) version for those with a lower pain threshold.

We were hoping the tandem duo would attempt a bunny hop.

Number of ouchies: lots!

By Adam Newman

Racing a singlespeed at Ironcross: a great bike ride and a lot of great hiking! 

  • Gear ratio: 38/18
  • Number of flats: 1
  • Number of slow leaks that required stopping a second time: 1
  • Number of huskys seen pulling a wheeled sled through the woods in the middle of nowhere with two men aboard: 6
  • Lowest RPM reached while climbing: 12
  • Number of naked asses spotted during the race: 1
  • Going price for a burn barrel in central Pennsylvania: $5
  • Number of ice-cold Troegs consumed during the race: 1
  • Number of cookies consumed during the race: 12+
  • Number of plastic or fiberglass elephants seen during the race: 3, I think
  • Number of plastic or fiberglass deer seen during the race: 3,000, I think
  • Number of front-wheel trackstands resulting in over-the-bars faceplants: 1
  • Number of summits seemingly reached only to find another hill just beyond: 7
  • Best joke heard during the race: "The magical tractor was just driving down the road when suddenly it turned into a field!"
  • Total ride time: 6:59:30 – I could have slept in another 30 seconds….
  • Number of offical singlespeed finishers behind me: 0

For more on Ironcross, visit

All photos by Abram Landes, A.E.Landes Photography

Click here for more photos from this year’s event.



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