Written by Eric Olds Saturday, 19 August 2017 00:00
The Titcomb Mountain Challenge is held at a small ski mountain in Farmington, Maine. The event offered the option of a six-hour race or an XC race. I decided to race the expert XC race, which was three laps of the six-plus mile course. Titcomb Mountain doesn’t offer a ton of trails, but what it has is very well built and fun to ride. After a start “loop” to spread people out, the course goes up to the top of the hill on a nice, flowing switchback climb, that has only a couple of steep pitches. This year they chose to have the course cross over itself which turned what would have been a steeper, technical (in spots) climb into a really fun downhill. The course then takes a right and works its way over to a long, meandering climb up the backside of the mountain up to the top again where it descends in big, sweeping switchbacks across the ski slopes.
As has been the case with the Bond Brook and Carrabassett races, the forecast going into the race was mid to upper seventies and sunny. But again, just before the start it poured rain making things greasy on the first lap. I meant to reevaluate my tire pressure given the sudden change in conditions, but forgot and after a sketchy first descent, I had to stop quickly to let some air out. That helped a lot, but things dried out pretty quickly anyway.
On the backside climb I started to catch two riders. One made a mistake by trying to climb up a steep, slippery “A line” and I was able to get around him by taking the easier B line. But, he ripped by me on the descent back to the start/finish area. After having to stop because I fumbled my water bottle, I caught them both on the first climb of lap two, but they gapped away from me again on the first descent. I caught them again on the backside climb and it was déjà vu all over again as the lead rider of the two tried the A line climb again and spun out, blocking the second riders path. I put in a big effort to get away from them before the descent and this time managed to stay away from them going into the final lap. I caught sight on one of the riders behind me on the final climb, but I managed to stay away the rest of the race and finished 11th out of 22 riders in the expert category.
I’m not sure what the total attendance for the race was, but turnout seemed good for a small Maine race. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow in the coming years. For those from out of state, Farmington is not that far off the beaten path and close to both the Carrabassett and Rangeley areas so it could fit into a vacation or long weekend in Maine.
Photo credits: Ian Ogilvie
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