Jon Kaslow // Mini Epic
Day began at around 9am on Saturday, April 30th. Weather was great, not particularly hot and a beautiful day for riding. Set up was 2 bottles with hydration and carb mix, and a hydration pack with around 2 liters of water (this ended up being plenty). Brought a few gels, and a couple bars, as well as a candy bar for lunch.
Rode a gravel bike (Open UP) with 38mm Vittoria Terreno Dry tries. This was great for the pavement and the climbs, but got a little rough in the rockier sections of Skyline.
Roll out from the shopping center was easy (forgot to take a photo, D’oh!), and after some easy miles hit the first gravel section. The climb was pretty brief and had some fun descending down to the reservoir.
I’d done Black Road before (on a road bike), so I knew to take it pretty easy, as it was a long day and that climb can get steep in some sections. I’d never ridden the John Nicholas trail, but that was probably the highlight of the ride. It was a undulating climb with some tough sections but I really enjoy the challenge of maintaining focus while also pushing through the steeper bits. The view right before the switchbacks was incredible!
The trails at the top (Skyline, Saratoga Gap, Long ridge) were fun, with minimal climbing, but some of the rockier sections threw me and my smaller tires around. Would’ve loved even a little suspension to gobble up some of the rocks. Somewhere in there, Alex Wild passed me doing the Grand Epic. After a quick selfie he was out of view in about 3 seconds.
The second to last climb of the day, up from small lake at Long Ridge was the hardest, requiring a few sections of hike-a-bike on the steepest pitches. From there it was a bit easier, cruising around the trails and then hitting Black Mountain. This climb wasn’t too bad, but during this a huge wave of fog rolled in which was pretty cool and changed up the scenery.
The descent down Black mountain challenged my brakes a bit, but everything smoothed out once I hit Canyon trail. I was pretty thrilled to hit pavement at the base again, my hands in particular pretty beaten up from the day, and after some easy spinning it was back to the parking lot for a well-earned Burrito and Beer.
Overall, the event was a ton of fun, and looking forward to what evil concoction Dave has up his sleeve for next year!