Race recap: ‘Be careful what you wish for’, AKA, ‘The Stoopid 50’

Yes, that’s the trail. Not pictured are the rattlesnakes.

[Photos courtesy of Bob Popovich]

By Karen Brooks 

So I came back from the Trans-Sylvania Epic a couple weeks ago feeling great. The race had gone quite well—I carefully budgeted my efforts, posted faster times than last year, and had a great time riding the rocky stuff. Didn’t even get a flat. But I had a nagging doubt that perhaps I had budgeted too well… I didn’t feel all that tired. Maybe I had not “left it all out on the trail”? Maybe I could have squeezed out some extra effort and done better? That seventh place prize podium spot glory could have been mine!

Then there were all those roads. TSE co-promoter Ray Adams had asked me after Stage 6 what I thought of the day, and I said, “Too much road!” To which he replied, “We’re working on it.” I don’t doubt that they are. But I realized that I was just whining. (Race promoters don’t need any more whiners.) My plan to take it easy on the dirt roads and attack the rocks was successful, but I kept getting passed on the smoother sections by ultra-fit roadie types, especially those from out West. At some point I said to myself, “Rather than whine [or train on the road more] I should just buck up and enter the Stoopid 50.”

So that’s what I did.

Diabolical race promotor Chris Scott.

The Stoopid 50 is sort of a “greatest hits” of the TSE: 50 miles of epic trails in Rothrock State Forest, with a touted mix of 30 percent roads and 70 percent trails. It includes such fabled, rock-infested trails as Tussey Mountain Ridge and Three Bridges. It was the rocks and the ratio that drew me in. I figured I could stick to my previous plan and float effortlessly through the rock sections (as my memory told me I had at TSE), then recover on the roads, but those pesky roadies wouldn’t have as much of a chance to make time on me. I began to dream of a real podium spot…

Race day dawned clear and bright. I was feeling less than rested, after driving an extra hour the night before to grab my bag of clothing I had forgotten at home. I decided to try to start fast, unlike each TSE stage, since there was no next day’s stage to worry about.

However, there’s a big difference between starting with 150 people at a moderate pace like at TSE, and trying to slice and dice with 250, as at this year’s Stoopid. I managed to rudely cut one guy off just before the first singletrack, Tussey Ridge, only to walk a good bit of the beginning along with every other racer in the traffic jam.

Once things cleared out I began riding, and cramping. Every hard pressure on the pedals resulted in my toes trying to curl toward my heels. Then my calves started tying themselves in knots. I don’t know what went wrong; same general nutrition and hydration plan as at TSE, drastically different results. I began to daydream about Pringles. Nevertheless, the trails were still fun. It was such a picture-perfect day, the dirt was dry, and the scenery was lovely (when I could shake out of my tunnel vision).

Topher, at the finish.

I blew through the first aid station according to plan, forgetting that they’d probably have Pringles. I remembered them the second time through and stuffed a bunch in my mouth, feeling better instantly. Then I hung out and chatted with Justin from Freeze-Thaw Cycles, then posed for photos with his dad. Meanwhile my closest competitor had been through and gone. I finally realized this and gave chase.

So how did I end up? In 8th, same result as at TSE. Figures. [Edit: Actually, looking at the results again, I got 7th. Woo!] Of course, some of the same super-women, such as Kristin Gavin (the winner) and Karen Potter (second) were there, as well as State College’s local fast females. I’m satisfied with my result, and glad I went, as it was a great ride on great trails. The total-body beat-down I felt on Monday told me that I had given it my all.

Special congrats to Vicki Barclay, who seems to be mostly recovered from her injury and took third.

The women’s podium.


Like what you see? Please support independent publishing by Subscribing To Dirt Rag Magazine today.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.