A lap in the sage

First thing - I hate the Notch. I really do. I have never cleaned it going up and the last two times we've ridden here, I've crashed pretty hard coming down the back side. So right now, the Notch and I are on bad terms.

Now for the rest of the course - the intial blacktop is never a problem - nothing hard there, just a false flat to the trail head. A good time to eat, drink and recover for the solo riders. I hope that I can take advantage of some of the other teams during that section and draft off of other riders. Right away when the course hits trail, it's up. Not super steep, but long enough and steep enough to make the rest of the lap hurt. The climb is on single track, but there is plenty of room for passing. After the single track climb, there's another more gradual dirt road climb. Again, steep enough and long enough to affect the rest of the lap and other laps in the race.

Finally on to the real single track. The first section is a rolling piece along one of the rock ridges. It's got some decent technical sections to keep you honest and paying attention, espcially during the night laps. The trail pops out from behind the rocks and starts a gradual climb to the northern most high point. There's a few rock gardens on the climb, one long section of rocks right at the top, then the downhill. It's two steeper and slightly rock descents seperated by a section of ridgeline. Again, nothing really hard, but enough to keep you on your toes. There's a dirt road down hill and the course returns to single track again for a long gradual climb through the sage. Nothing technical in this section at all, the trail just meanders through the high sage. At the very top, it's a quick downhill to the cottonwoods. SAR usually sets up there and keeps an eye on everyone.

The next section of single track continues the gradual climb through the sage. It's a little steeper, with a little more twists and turns, but again not that challenging. What will make it hard is the gradual uphill, espcially at 2:00 am when going up hill just really is getting old. There's another section of fast dirt road - but a good place to eat a little. Then the trail turns onto Sea of Sage and it's time for a fast, swoopy descent back to the cottonwoods. That section of trail is fun because it flows so smoothly through the sage. Too soon, the descent is over and it's a short, steep climb to the ridge line. We follow the ridgeline to the east, with quick climbs, rock gardens and fast drops. There's a brief respite as the trail descends through the sage to the start of the Notch.

Finally the Notch. It's a long rock face, a quick drop, another rock face, a sharp left turn between two large rocks, a couple of rock steps up to the top. Sounds easy? Haven't ever ridden the entire thing up. Nick could tell more about it. After the climb, it's time for the downhill. There's a steep drop down a rock face, a left hand turn, more rocks with another two foot drop, then just fast, sandy and loose to the end of the single track. I'll be honest - I've not had the best luck on the descent this year. I might just walk the whole thing for a few laps.

But the lap time was decent and I think our plan's good. Tommorow at noon!

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