Winding Trails MTB Team Race Report

Farmington, CT

April 17, 2011


5 mile loop of smooth, twisty single track, flat wide power sections, 2 deep mud bogs, 2 little bridges, and a few short little hills. There were a number of modifications to the course this year that significantly changed the feel and flow. There were many new singletrack sections added and the amount of long access road sections was reduced.


Pleasant, 50’s with sun at times.


  • Beginner/Cat 3 Women, 19-34: Julianne Oberle 1st
  • Beginner/Cat 3 Women, 19-34: Jenn Minery 4th
  • Beginner/Cat 3 Women, 35+: Serene Forte 5th
  • Sport/Cat 2 Women, 35+: Teri Carilli 5th
  • Sport/Cat 2 Men, 50+: John McGrath 9th
  • Expert/Cat 1 Women, 35+: Cathy Rowell 2nd
  • Expert/Cat 1 Men, 40-49: Mike Rowell, 2nd


Julianne Oberle, Cat 3- 1st Place

So, I thought it would be fun to try mountain bike racing this year. Fat Tire was a great non-technical race to try as a first race. I felt really strong fitness wise, but weak in the technical skills. Fat Tire seemed like a long cyclocross race for me since I can’t ride over stuff, yet.  The single track was neither rooty nor rocky so that just made it fun and fast. A few of the logs I had to dismount, some I was able to ride over.  There were a few short steep climbs I was able to power up pretty fast and I think this is how I was able to move away into first place. My start was ok, I got near the front which is where I wanted to be. I’m more likely to ride over stuff if I watch the person in front of me ride. I spent part of the first lap behind Jenn and she rode stuff and then so did I. Eventually after I got to a steep section and pulled away I noticed I dismounted more because I didn’t have someone to watch and learn from. The giant mud puddle bogs were probably the hardest for me. I was almost able to make it through both times around but had to unclip to get to the end. I ran the steep climb both times also, it didn’t occur to me to try riding it since most beginner men were walking up this when I got there. I continued to feel very strong during the race and was able to really put power down as long as there were no logs in the way. I tried not to use my brakes on the downhills or corners because I didn’t want to endo. I was happy to see the finish and my teammates cheering! I wasn’t entirely sure if I had the first place spot but was so happy after finishing my first mountain bike race! I’m looking forward to trying some more in the near future! Hopefully I won’t have to get off the bike so much by then J.

Jenn Minery, Cat 3- 4th Place

This was my second MTB race and I felt much more confident already with my progression on my bike. We pre-rode the course on Sat, which was fairly dry and heavenly, in where I was hopping over everything and realized that this was a course that really favored roadies, so I was excited for I enjoy to power things out. Well, Mother Nature decided to let loose and let it POUR Sat night, therefore the sand and pine needles there were just right the day before, were heavy now, to me at least. And there was two mud puddles now, not just one behemoth wheel sucker. Well the whistle went off and I had a great start, second off of the pack and felt great about my position and that I knew the course for the most part. Shortly in I knew that there was a big, awkward log coming up and that there was a little one right before it that was totally manageable. Well, needless to say the ‘slippery little sucker’ got me as opposed to the bigger log and I lost about 4-5 spots in my slip. After a bit further and going through the first mud pit that wasn’t there the day before, I realized I had nothing in my legs. As hard as I pushed, they weren’t going to go. So a couple more people passed me and once we got to the latter half of the course and a few more slippery logs, I was out of it. So I decided to just go at my own pace still pushing it with what I had and getting out of the way when I couldn’t conquer a spot and there were other racers behind me from the Men’s Cat3 race. Regardless of my personal frustrations, I still learned where to improve and what not to do for next time.

All in all it was a fun race, for friends raced and won, laughs were had and mud was slung!

Cathy Rowell, Cat 1- 2nd Place

Racing is supposed to be fun. We don’t get paid to go out on the weekends and ride around as hard as we can for 2+ hours, so it should be fun. Right? Then how come this race got in my head so badly, making the nerves and anxiety what I remember most? The nerves and anxiety started on the line. I was intimidated by the competition taking the start. It was going to be tough, and the mental demons were waging a war that they were intent on winning.

Thankfully, on the whistle, the demons quieted their war temporarily – enough for me to focus on getting a good position going into the singletrack. Oddly, as the first woman on the trail endoed on the log in front of me, cursed like a sailor, and then cut me off as she got back on her bike, it was me telling her that she needed to be calm. Me – 1; demons – 0.

Approaching the finish of the first lap, I knew that my nemesis, Sue, was gaining on me. Then, she passed me, and I couldn’t counter. I had gone out too hard for the first lap, and it wasn’t going to be sustainable for another 3. I watched her ride away, and never saw her again. Me – 1; demons – 1.

I pressed on in the second lap and was surprised to be passed by another racer, finding myself now in 3rd place. Me – 1; demons – 2. This wouldn’t do. I had resigned myself to 2nd place before the race even started, but I was intent on NOT finishing 3rd! I got my head back into the race, and out of the war to chase her down and pass her back. Me – 2; demons – 2.

Despite lapping traffic (including causing Mike an issue as he tried to get by me), I managed to stay in front of the remainder of the women for the rest of the race. I crossed the line in 2nd place – goal achieved! Me – 3; demons – 2. It was a victory with a slim margin, but I would take it. More importantly, in the battle of me vs. the demons, it appears that I won ;).

Mike Rowell – Cat1 Men 40-49 – 2nd

I’ve always liked the race. The course consisted of some really fun, fast, tight and twisty singletrack as well as some super fast access road power sections. That played well to my strong points and historically, I have done fairly well at this course. This year there were significant changes to years past. There were far fewer extended open power sections in favor of shorter sections of access road connecting many new, fresh, tight singletrack sections. That made for a really great course to ride but a really challenging course to pass on. There was also an additional super crappy mud section in addition to the normal ultra crappy mud section. I hate mud. I really do. I dislike wet feet and swampy gloves and gritty chamois’.

Motivation wasn’t super high to race I must admit but we made the trip anyhow, I because I thought Cathy really wanted to race and she thinking the same of me. Communication at it’s finest. The Men’s 40+ Cat1 field, my field, ended up being one of the biggest of the day. Unfortunately for me, I opted for one last trip to the restroom rather than getting extra early to staging. This resulted in a less that optimal starting multiple rows back from the front. The start was crucial at this race as you quickly hit singletrack where it was nearly impossible to pass. Directly in front of me at the start I had at least one person who wasn’t interested in getting any kind of a holeshot and going really fast, he was just looking for a big wheel to ride around behind. Great. I know, it’s my fault for not being more attentive and getting on the front line.

At the gun I did all that I could to move up and was able to get into about 7th wheel going into the initial singletrack. I could see however, that the person I’d pegged to win, the guy I battled with last year at this race, who was attentive and got into the front row and also got the holeshot, was riding away. This does not bode well for my chances, I thought to myself. Indeed, after spending the next couple miles making all sorts of crazy passes I got into second place and started chasing. For the entire lap I went as hard as I could, which in reality was actually a little harder than I could. The gap narrowed and coming around for the lap I was within maybe 10 yards, but suffering mightily. A surge from the leader going through the sandy uphill and it was all over. I faded into an oblivion of passing riders from other fields and noting the leader steadily increasing his lead on me. Of note was the fact that my own wife hosed me on a high speed catch and pass in a singletrack section. I clearly announced my presence and that I was coming by on the left. All she needed to do was stay as she was. Unfortunately, she she bobbled and swerved left, causing me to lock up the brakes and come to a stop, loosing all momentum on a spongy slightly uphill section. Too bad it made absolutely no difference in the long run, lest I could blame her.

In the end, I finished up 2nd, down by a HUGE margin to the winner. Haven’t taken a beating like that in a while on a MTB. I didn’t much care for it.

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