Written by Eric Olds Thursday, 15 August 2019 17:20
I’ve been hearing great things about the Nordic Trail Fest up in Presque Isle for years but have never managed to make the trip. Until now! It’s evolved over the years, but for the last couple of years the main events have been simultaneous 6-hour mountain bike and running races (on separate courses) on Saturday, with a small downhill race on Friday evening.
The 6-hour race started at 12:30 on Saturday, so I was able to wait until Saturday morning to make the nearly 4-hour drive from Mid-Coast, Maine and still arrive in plenty of time to ease into race mode.
The event is held at the Nordic Heritage Sport Club, which is a world class Nordic ski center that has hosted World Cup Biathlons in recent years. It also has a very nice network of single-track mountain bike trails. The course starts near the lodge and heads up a technical climb for the first mile. But then, this is followed by a seemingly endless decent on tight, twisty, gravely single-track. Of, course, it must go back up, but the climb back to the lodge is a series of mostly gradual switchbacks, with a fast descent and then a short climb into the stadium.
My race could have gone better, but I thought it was going to go much worse. My back started to seize up on lap two, and I was seriously considering packing it in at that point. But, after a good stretch I was able to enjoy my third lap and was able to keep it going for 6 laps total, good enough for 6th place out of 15 in the solo men’s category. My fifth lap was the most fun as I’d finally dialed in the descents, although I was having a bit too much fun and just barely missed hitting a few trees at high speed.
The after party was a lot of fun, too, with two bonfires, a live band, food, beer, and great conversation with fellow mountain bikers from all over. Camping is free for both Friday and Saturday nights and the facilities, which include locker rooms with showers, are open at all hours. I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and was able to get in for a warm shower before hitting the road. I hope to be back next year with a larger family contingent.
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