Romp in the Swamp
Nine Mile Forrest Wausau, WI
When the WEMS calendar came out, one race SCREAMED at me. Romp in the Swamp. Wausau has some of the best cross country bike trails in the state. It also, holds my favorite event of the year. Wausau24. Having the opportunity to ride the trails longer than a normal short WORS race, I couldn’t pass this up.
The week leading up to the race was wet and rainy. Forecast was calling for thunderstorms for the race. Doesn’t matter, this is Wausau. I was loaded up and on the road by 7. When I got to registration I saw a couple of the 9 hour racers come through covered in mud and brakes where howling. Today was going to be a long slow, slippery, and sticky day.
I signed up for the 6 hour single speed race. Not many people made it to the race, as I feel the weather kept them away. Who wants to replace an entire drive train after one day of riding? Thankfully I am riding single speed. Not much to replace. There were about 18 people who raced the 6 hour event. Both 9 hour and 6 hour had a longer 15 mile course. Vs. the 7 mile course for the 3 hour riders.
The trails are a mixture of double track XC ski trails, and single track. Over 75% of the race is on single track J The trails vary to terrain. Some trails are sandy with pea gravel covering them, others are nothing but rocks and roots, and then you also have some perfect packed dirt with berms in every corner. There is the Ho Chi Minh climb long and rocky (long for WI standards). Being able to climb this clean in good weather is a victory to most riders. It is a very technical climb.
Under better weather I know I can ride every trail and climb. With the rain we had there where puddles of standing water, mud holes in corners, and the sandy pea gravel was like glue to the tires. Add in mud and wet rocks under the trees it was a very slippery day, and almost impossible to climb without dabbing a foot here or there.
The laps where slow, most people where completing laps in an hour and 45 minutes to two hours. I was right at 2 hours. Wow was it a tough day in the saddle. I had two silly low speed crashes in the rocks.
I finished the race officially with only 30 miles. I could have, probably should have gone for a 3rd lap, but chose to skip the rock sections again. After I checked out and took my race number off. I figured I should check out the short course. Turns out, they just skipped all of the fun hard stuff and climbs.
I cannot wait to get back up to Wausau and ride. Hopefully it won’t be so wet for Wausau 24. Either way I got to spend a day in my happy place.