Forget what you’ve heard about the Wildcat Epic 100(the bad stuff anyway). Bath salts and time keeping issues aside, this is a great mountain bike race. I grew up just south of the Shawangunk Ridge and in about 1990 started my storied mountain biking career there.
The Wildcat Epic is a prize in itself for me, and for anyone who has the legs to grind out 100 fast miles over two days. It’s a full throttle sprint to sweet climbs that lead to incredible 50-mile views. Duck Pond Carriage Way, Cardiac Hill, and Castle Point Carriage Way take you up, up, and up to vistas that let you see a long way. It’s amazing how far one can see.
Having been way, way, way too deeply involved in the local MTB community from 1995-1999 I’m shocked this race even happens. In the very early 90’s there was talk of banning mountain biking on the ridge all together. Our relationship with land management became much better over time, but it was a relationship with very clear and rigid boundaries. So now, to have a race across the ridge is pretty amazing, and one not to miss. The biggest change from 2010 was the stage one course. Instead of a lollipop style out and back it was modified to essentially a typical out and back. The format allowed racers trailing to see the racers ahead of them heading back but it was definitely less challenging and lacked the grandeur of 2010’s stage one. Stage two, on the other hand, was made better through modifications.
This year racers cranked out all the hard stuff and made what was about a 9-mile sprint for home on the rail trail. It’s so cool to see “18mph” on the computer for so long, so late in a race especially after just crawling through 6 miles of rocks, roots, and ravines at Williams Lake. Considering the Wildcat is still a very new race so I think it will continue to evolve. I’d love to see this race go to a single day with the entire course on the ridge. That might me mean a reduction in distance, but Wildcat Epic 100 still works if its roughly 100k. And I’d definitely like to see 2010’s stage one course rather than 2011’s.
Changes or not, I’ll be back in 2012. Racer-X has had good representation at this race two years running. Along with myself, David Alden raced in 2010 and Rob McNitt raced in both 2010 and 2011. Hopefully we’ll see more X’rs out there next year, the fast non-technical nature of this endurance race suits at least a few of us very well.