The US Cup organizers have updated the Big Bear race course for 2013 and are including the new Skyline Trail – the first new trail in Big Bear in 10 years!. Any change involving swapping out fire-road (2N10) with singletrack is a good revision, from this rider’s perspective And what a singletrack Skyline is (huge shout-out to the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation). I’ve been able to ride it several times this spring and the lines are developing nicely. There are some loose off-camber turns to be sure but the flow is there.
For those who are thinking about racing the Big Bear course this coming weekend, here are some videos of the course in specific sections. First up is part 1 of the Skyline trail which starts at the intersection of Radford Rd. (aka Sugarloaf Rd. or 2N06) & 2N10. It’s the climbing portion of the Skyline trail and has a couple punchy rocky ascents that combined with the elevation can spike the heartrate. The key here is staying smooth and relaxed…. but in a race that might go out the window!
Part 2 of the Skyline trail is shown here near the top behind Snow Summit and initially goes downhill in some swooping lines that have some jumps and berms built-in. The jumps are off to the side so racers can blow right past them if desired. A note about the berms, however. Some are good, others are not. Do not go into the berm assuming it’s trajectory is right. Often, the berm ends short and if you were fully committed to riding the berm you’re going to be disappointed and perhaps on your chamois. As you’ll see in the video, I often use the beginning of the berm with the front tire but don’t commit my back tire to it. There is a small amount of climbing involved in this section of Skyline, but it’s brief and exits at fireroad offshoot from 2N10 for a helipad.
Once off Skyline, it’s back onto 2N10 and its undulations (read never-ending ups and downs of a ridgeline). For those doing the medium course (CAT2), you’ll turn right onto the Plantation Farm singletrack which is opposite Clarks Grade Rd. This spring, it is FAST! With little snow/rain this winter, the course is all dry. In prior years, it was half creek half trail. Check out the video below to see it in action and note that based on emails with the race organizers the fallen tree has been removed. Those racing the expert course pay not attention here…
I haven’t included video of Cabin 89 which is in the expert class. I still need to record that… I intended to this past weekend when I was scouting the trail but my memory card ran out of room. Damn technology.
The end of the race features several technical (for XC racing) downhills which are fun, but do require a weary racer’s attention. I do not have video of the Dog Trail & Fall Line downhills (again – my damn memory card) but I can tell you that there is a fallen tree across Fall Line that IS rideable IF you are comfortable committing to riding up and over a bootleg ramp made up of loose branches. It is doable (and fun) – just lean back, un-weight the front of your bike, carry your speed, and exit.
The finish features the Fern trail singletrack. Because of my memory card I don’t have video of this trail in its current state, but below is a video of it from the fall of 2012. The big difference between how it looks/rides in this video and now is that over the winter they’ve done some extensive logging and the middle fire-road section is tore-up and loose. All rideable – just ugly and not as smooth as what it once was. Hammer the bottom section of this trail for a fast finish and hopefully there’s beer waiting for you!
I’m looking forward to racing this weekend. I’m doing the Super-D on Saturday (which I’ve prepared the GoPro & memory card for) and the XC race on Sunday with a bunch of my Kasel Cycling teammates. Base camping at the Adams Big Bear Cabin this weekend with some post-race beers will be quite rewarding.