Pre ride fun at Frog Hollow

25 Hours in Frog Hollow - we got our first taste of the course Thursday and a second pre-ride on Friday. It's a fast course - 13 miles and the fast guys will be doing easily under 50 minutes for their laps. It's also a very deceptive course. The first part leading out of camp is a nice wide road - perfect for the soloist to grab a snack if they didn't stop long in pit. Nothing too scary except for some ruts lying in wait to catch a tire and send the daydreaming rider flying. A left turn into jeep double track and it's more of the same. A rolling climb on a dusty double track laden with ruts and washouts. Into and out of a was a few times and a short stretch of single track to spice things up. The jeep trails crisscrosses washes and parallels cliff edges as it climbs higher and higher. Three steep punches that derailed any steady pedaling momentum in favor of either walking or a really hard attack. But so far, Nick and I were a little worried. Had we driven all this way, eagerly looking forward to a fun race for this?
Zion Canyon from the course
Then came the right turn onto JEM trails. A brief moment to recover from the climb as the trail tilts downhill, sweeping through the mesquite bushes. Then two steep drops, each starting with a rock ledge. Super easy to launch if you wanted - all grins and giggles type of riding. Then a sharp right and it's time to pay attention. A left turn over a metal grate and the trail drops away down the edge of a cliff. Within a few feet is a 180 degree turn back to the right, the track leading to it filled with jagged rocks and pressed up against the cliff wall. Don't make that right hander and it's about a 30 foot drop to the ground below. On our first pre-ride I flipped out and had to walk it, but I made it on the second. I really need to be paying attention that entire stretch - from the first left to that tight right and the steep rocky drop leading to another left. Not a place to mess up. Once through there, it's more fun and flowing desert riding at the trails continues it's plunge back to the road. There's huge views of Zion NP to the east, but no time to sightsee. Eyes on the trail or you'll end up in a bush! Then a rocky and steep climb where good body English and power production will help - along with smart line choices. What goes up must come down and it's a hard descent. Rough hard with lots of sharp rocks littering the trail, hungrily waiting for a tire or wheel to break - not picking the right track may mean carnage on both bodies and bikes! I really need to be careful on that section and remember that my legs are my suspension and I need to flow over the rocks. 

Another quick section of road - this one a welcome respite from the jarring rocks. But not much of a break - the road is so fast and a good place to spin up the legs and get some speed. Still, recovering there will be smart. The last section of trail is the real kicker. Meandering along the Virgin River canyon, the trail pitches up and down with some sharp turns and fancy foot work. One stretch is just a long rock garden with no good way thru other then muscling over the sharp rocks, smooth slabs and side wall slashers. Line choice will be key for ease of riding and equipment preservation. It's that last ten minutes that will be the crux of the course. Stay smooth and relaxed and pick your way through and things will be fine. Get choppy and sloppy and walking will be easier and faster. Finish up with a double track climb through solo row to the transition tent. Welcome back to Frog Town!
There's singletrack out there in that desert! And fun singletrack too!
Frog Town from the road starting the race

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