This is a repost of something that I wrote for Skinnyski.com last July after the Tatanka Mountain Bike Race. It’s a long read, but I think it gives you a good overall feel of what the race is all about, which hopefully gives you some good information and helps you to decide to race it or not. Just do me a favor – if you get a chance, let the Tatanka crew know you heard about the race from Mountain Bike Radio.
I wanted to share it now for two reasons:
1. You only have two months left to train for a legit mountain bike race that requires some training. I’ve experienced the race twice and have some insight to share with you and I want to help, and
2. The Tatanka Mountain Bike Race gang has kicked in a code to SAVE YOU 15% OFF REGISTRATION. Yeah, really… go HERE. (**Note: the regular price bumps up from $125 to $150 on June 1, so registering with this code before June 1 saves you over $40!)
[One note: I mentioned at the end that I would definitely be back in 2016. Well….due to a lot of factors, including travel around then, I definitely won’t be racing the 135km option and I don’t think that I’ll be toeing the line for the 55km option either. If it wasn’t for some stuff going on, I’d do it for sure. I might just catch a ride down and hang out for the weekend, because it’s a great weekend.]
Here is the full post from July 2015 that I wrote for Skinnyski:
Race Report: Tatanka 100
by Ben Welnak
July 14, 2015
The sixth stop of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series was the Tatanka 100 in the Black Hills of South Dakota on Saturday, July 11th. This year they made a significant change to the course that enticed many new racers from around the country. The course used to follow a 100-mile loop that began and ended in Sturgis, South Dakota. While the race had been included in the NUE series previously, the field remained small. That all changed this year when the race organizers were able to reroute the course to be a point-to-point following the Centennial Trail from Mount Rushmore to Sturgis. About 150 racers overall took part in the various length races, including around 100 starters who tackled the long distance option.
– COURSE –
The change to a point-to-point format starting at the base of the Mount Rushmore National Monument attracted a lot attention and, as a result, this year saw more racers than the first three years combined. There were three course lengths to choose from, including a 10k, 50k, and the long option which was actually around 80 miles instead of the 100 miles that the race name indicates. The distance was shortened because it utilizes the Centennial Trail for nearly 100% of the race and it just works out best for the race course, rather than adding another 20 miles just for the sake of having 100. The 10k and 50k started at different locations and didn’t get the great experience of starting at Mount Rushmore. The 10k started at the finish line in Sturgis while the 50k racers experienced most of the last part of the 80-miler. This is important, because I want you to realize that if you decide to race it next year, you don’t need to tackle the longest distance to experience some great Black Hills trail.
While it seems that Mount Rushmore grabbed people’s attention, the real star of the day was the trail. I don’t think a lot of people have experienced what the Black Hills have to offer to mountain bikers. Many have raced the popular Dakota 5-o, but that only covers a fraction of what’s available in the area. There are countless miles of trails, doubletrack, atv/dirtbike trails, forest service roads, and paths through the beautiful hills. After racing the 2013 edition of the Tatanka 100, I had a good idea of the trails, the terrain, and the views, but as I tried to convince people to try the race, it was hard to close the deal. Bad for them, but great for all of those who committed.
The actual 80-mile race course started with about a 3-mile road rollout before we reached the Centennial Trail. Immediately it was apparent that the trail was going to be “old school” mountain biking. You’ll have to forgive me a little because I don’t remember the exact details of every mile of trail – it’s difficult when you’re at race effort and it’s 90+ degrees. But, I’ll try to lead you through what I remember experiencing.
Anyhow….as we turned off the pavement of Highway 244 (the road to access Mount Rushmore) we entered some areas that were probably the wettest areas as we navigated past Battle Creek. There was a lot of tall green grass and areas of mud and some ruts. It was a little tricky in spots, but creative route finding around the ruts as you passed the signature bison skulls trail signs allowed most to get through unharmed. The trail quickly transitioned as it headed up…and up…and up.
From mile 4 at about 4,800 feet of elevation, the trail headed mostly up until mile 10 where it topped out at nearly 5,900 feet. That climb includes plenty of rocky, technical ups, turns, and tricky sections, as well as some decent hike-a-bikes. The first 10 miles definitely gets riders nervous about their ability to complete the rest of the race.
After topping out at the course highpoint, the climbing mellows out some. “Mellows” does not mean it gets easier! There is a drop down to Sheridan Lake that keeps riders on their toes. As you near the bottom of the descent, you’re treated to views of Sheridan Lake before coming to the quick break as you pedal the flat stretch across the Sheridan Lake Dam. I say short because just as you settle in, you come face-to-face with an old stone staircase that you climb to continue along the trail. It’s at this point in the race where the course was altered slightly to bypass two sections of trail that were too wet to ride. Normally, the race continues along the trail, but they rerouted it along a couple roads. I’d have a hard time picking out what roads weren’t normally part of the course unless I looked at a map though. So, I would say that it didn’t alter the experience a bit.
At this point in the race, a lot of the course becomes somewhat of a blur where all the terrain and trail is hard to give a mile-by-mile description. The second section of road seemed to continue to shrink until we reached an open green meadow. After winding around that for a short time, it seem like we headed into the rocky singletrack. I think middle part of the course is similar to a lot of Colorado riding, without the elevation. If you’ve ever ridden in the Breckenridge area and are familiar with the long rocky atv/doubletrack descents with great singletrack, you have a good idea of what to expect for the Tatanka race. I can’t fail to mention the puddles. A lot of the dips and bottoms of descents were covered in large, deep, and rutted mud puddles, even though a majority of the trail was dry and even dusty at times. The puddles were enough to affect some people’s races, causing bad shifting and squeaking chains.
It was beautiful as we continued along between 4,500 feet and 5,000 feet of elevation. There were running creeks, rock outcroppings, chirping birds, and seemingly endless forest. Then around mile 53, we headed down into the Elk Creek area. The descent was a fun, tight stretch of singletrack that headed through some thick trees. The drop to the valley was followed by some tight singletrack lined with tall, thick, green vegetation. It was an interesting and welcomed change, even if there were huge, very noticeable stands of poison ivy. It was like a jungle, especially compared to the trail prior to the valley. It was quickly river crossing time.
The trail crossed the river 5 or 6 times (by that point, I couldn’t count…) and then it was a 2 mile push to Aid Station 4. Crossing the river was no small feat. Because of a lot of rain during May and June, the river was running about 2-3 feet deep, with big, uneven rocks. That marked the end of the river valley as the trail headed back up just after racers left. The climb lead to the best part of trail all day. Fast, flowy, and relatively smooth descents wound around the last sections of woods and I’m sure made everyone feel like a superhero, especially after all of the climbing to get to it. I could hear racers around the woods whooping and cheering as they turned each corner leading to even more flowy singletrack. The trail finally dumped out into an open field on the way too the finish. After crossing under I-90, there were five miles of trail in some open fields and trees just south of Sturgis that put the hurt to many riders with some punchy climbs while taunting them with views and sounds of town. Finally the trail dumped out on to some pavement and onto the bike path leading to the finish line. Done.
Overall, this course is a dream for anyone who likes and appreciates “old school” mountain biking. It’s challenging on fitness, skills, and equipment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like anytime you head into the mountains, the course demands respect. If the long course sounds like too much, the 50k option is a great option, offering many of the great parts of the trail.
– RACING/REPORT –
Now that you have the full rundown of what the course was like, I’d like to add my race report to give you my perspective of the Tatanka weekend. My goal is to give you my perspective of the full weekend and the thoughts going on in my head as I made my way along the trail.
The race weekend started earlier in the week as I began the packing and preparation. There were 4 of us (Ryan, Tyler, and Nick [Maah Daah Hey 100 director and 2015 Tatanka finisher too])headed down to Sturgis from Western North Dakota and we were going to be packed in my minivan. I wanted to have all of my things totally race ready and packed neatly before we left. After two nights of messing with things for a couple hours, it was all ready and packed. Two of guys showed up Friday morning at my house and we packed up all of their gear and bikes and headed out of town, picking up the last on the way out of town.
I was really looking forward to heading out of town come Friday morning. As a father of two young children, a weekend trip to a bike race with three other guys is a rare thing. It was nice to not have to feed someone or teach them how to do something. Even still, there were times where I could feel my father sneaking out when I was explaining things.
The drive was smooth, the weather was clear, and my hopes were high. After about 4.5 hours, we arrived at the Hog Heaven Campground in Sturgis, South Dakota. Hog Heaven is normally only open during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but opens to racers for the Tatanka. We quickly unpacked our bikes and a few necessary things and snuck in a really quick ride around the campground. It really was only about 20 minutes, but it did the job to get in a warm-up and a couple hard efforts. Not ideal, but we wanted to get over to the check-in on time and have things in order so we weren’t up until late. The shuttle bus was to leave at 5am on Saturday morning and it was more important to get rest than to get more preride time.
The check-in was pretty uneventful. We were unsure of where it was, but we figured it couldn’t be hard to find a large group of mountain bikers in the small, quiet town of Sturgis. It wasn’t. We hopped on the main street headed through town and it only took about a mile before we spotted it at Knuckles Saloon. We waited in line for a few minutes and got checked-in. I quickly got my drop bags sorted out and in the appropriate boxes. I expected to see several people I knew and to be talking a lot so I needed to get all of the necessary steps done right away.
People increasingly filtered in and I ended up seeing a lot of familiar faces and basically talking my head off as much as I could over the obnoxiously loud live music in Knuckles. As the guy behind Mountain Bike Radio and by the looks of this entire report (basically book about the Tatanka) you can imagine that I could likely actually talk my head off. It was great seeing so many people I haven’t seen for a while and some I just saw recently in Wisconsin at the Chequamegon 100.
The rest of the meeting wasn’t anything special as the race director, Kevin Forrester, outlined some of the basic information and answered some racer questions. We were out of there quickly and back to the campsite to ready everything for a 5:00am shuttle departure from Sturgis to the start at Mount Rushmore.
The weather overnight was fantastic and I nervously woke up a few times during the night to see a full sky of stars and a moon shining bright. I also quickly noticed how warm it was for the middle of the night. My alarm went off at 3:45am and I was up and eating. We were told to meet at the shuttles at 4:40, so it was nice to have an hour to chill out and leisurely eat and putz around. The other guys woke up, gathered their things, and we headed over to catch the shuttles.
The bus ride over to the start was nice. It was scenic and people were chatting about whatever came to mind. As we neared the destination, I realized I lost the first race by sitting in the back of the bus – the race for the bathrooms. They seemed to delay the start a little to allow for everyone to filter through, so it all worked out well. There was no rush at all. Overall, it was a great start to the morning.
They started corralling us to the start and the police escort was lined up and ready to roll. Off we went on a rollout down the road for about 3 miles. It was a good way to start out because there was some pedaling followed by some decent hills. I topped out at 42 miles per hour down the road. While it was a little nerve wracking, the riders ahead of me were riding confidently, so I was a little less worried about starting out a 9+ hour race by wrecking on pavement.
It didn’t take long before we turned off onto the trail as the real race was on. We all did the normal jockeying for position as we entered the trail. Thankfully the first stretches entering the trail offered some areas along the sides to get into the position that you wanted to be in. Plus, we all had an idea that it was going to be a very long day, so it was pretty chill where I was at. It really didn’t take long to get my bike totally muddy and ready for all of the rest of the mud puddles to come later on in the race.
The temperature wasn’t an issue at this early point in the race. Maybe it was because the downhill road leadout had plenty of breeze because of the high speeds or maybe because I was just too focused on the start of the race – likely a little of both. It didn’t take long to be reminded that the forecasted high in the 90’s was quickly coming over the horizon.
After finding my groove in the opening stretch of trail, it was time to head up the first and biggest climb of the day. I didn’t have many concerns at this point. I was comfortable temperature wise and I found some riders who were my speed through the rocky trail. I was starting to worry that I was going to regret the rigid fork, but looking around to see other singlespeeders with rigid forks, I knew I could hang with them downhill. Then things turned uphill.
We started to climb and after 20 minutes, all I thought was oh shit, today is not a good day. I’m not sure what it was. I’ve been feeling race ready, finishing 5th at the Badlands Gravel Battle in May, and 5th overall at the Chequamegon 100 in June. I guess sometimes things come together to make it a rough day at the office. I tried to maintain a positive outlook and kept trying to push the pedals harder and it just wasn’t happening. During the big climb there were several spots that we all were hiking. I had to take several short breaks during that and that’s something I’d never normally do. Oh well…it was time to switch my expectations and go into survival mode. Survival mode to me was go as hard as you can when you can, take a little extra time at the aid stations, and see how it goes.
I guess I wasn’t ready to fully throw in the towel on my hopes for a good placing because as we got to Aid Station 1, I quickly dropped my empty bottles and grabbed two new ones – one filled with CarboRocket 333 and the other with Tailwind Nutrition. I was off, but I was hit with the harsh reality that I was quickly slowing. I had lost contact with the 3rd place singlespeeder (Peat Henry) and the guy behind me (Ernesto Marenchin), who had been steadily gaining on me on the uphills over the last several miles, caught me not long before getting to the aid station. Watching him ride off from the aid station before me was the nail in the coffin. Survival mode it was.
A lot of the middle of the race became a blur. I remember different parts and racers but it’s hard to distinguish where things happened and how long I was on particular trails. Once leaving the aid station, we were off on the first reroute of the course. Once we popped out of the trees, it allowed for a decent view of the riders ahead of us as we climbed up an old dirt road/atv trail. I watched my last hope at catching Ernesto go away with each pedal stroke as he danced up the climb and faded beyond corners up ahead.
After watching him go away on the climb, I remember hitting a hilling open area that was a beautiful view. It was green and you can see hills and trees all around. Then I heard a buzzing and freaked out that I was being attacked by bees. Thankfully, it was some guy out in the middle of nowhere with a drone filming us. I hope that video is released sometime soon. I bet it’s really cool.
The next several hours were rough. It was hot. I bet it hit 90 degrees well before 11am, or at least it felt like it. I was also struggling to keep some good momentum going on some of the rock sections because I just didn’t have the energy to crank it. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you’d understand the Catch 22 – not keeping your momentum leads to harder to gain speed which in turn causes you to lose the ability to gain whatever momentum you did have. I was just using way too much leg power and they were zapped. Then popped up the first used gel wrapper. I’ll admit, if I’m in full on race mode, I’m not likely to stop and pick up garbage from the other racers. I feel bad about that. But in this instance, I thought about it for a second and said to myself, “why not?” So, for the next several hours, I stopped to pick up the wrappers that I did see. It turned out to be 6 or 7, with a couple that I’m not sure were even from racers. At least I could contribute something along the way, plus I was still having fun on the downhills.
I arrived at the second aid station and took a seat. I was overheating and needed something cold. I wasn’t even thirsty or in need of food, I just needed the cold. However, I had packed a GU Energy Salted Caramel gel in my drop bag and it sounded really good. I just recently was turned on to GU products thanks to their marketing guy, Yuri. That was single best piece of food the entire race. That flavor hits all the taste buds during a hard ride – wow. I took the opportunity to down a full bottle of water, pack my things up, and chat with the geared racer I had been yo-yo’ing with until now. The break felt good and I was energized.
On to the next section, which included some tough climbing and loose rocky jeep road downhill. I was feeling good on the climbs. Actually so much so that I was a little surprised at that point. I enjoyed it while it lasted and, by the time I reached the top, I lost the pep I gained from the aid station. It was a beautiful stretch of course though. Mud puddles broke up stretches of dry trail however, and my bike became a mess. It’s times like those that I really appreciate a singlespeed.
I arrived at Aid Station 3 to see friend, Jonathan Davis of Elevated Legs, there grabbing water. I knew something was wrong – either he screwed up his bike, was sick, or went off course. I said something to catch his attention and he quickly let me know that he missed a turn and did a 45-minute loop back to the aid station. Not good. I sat down and one of the volunteers handed me some water. I chugged the bottle and filled up another. That was gone in a minute too. I hung out there for another few minutes to take advantage of the shade. While I was there, a couple other riders came down the road – they had missed the same turn. I thought that was odd, especially considering how well the rest of the course was marked. I gathered myself and headed up the climb out of the aid station. It was a good one – hot, steep, and challenging. I was playing games by challenging myself with each steep section. Trying to ride them out on my one gear. I was able to clear some, but others didn’t work out too well. I reached the top where it opened up to an old, unused doubletrack and saw a turn. I knew immediately that it was the one that people were missing, so I stopped and searched around for a good log to put across the doubletrack to direct people towards the sign on the trail. Meanwhile, I heard racers coming up the trail. It was Jon and some others who went off course, who turned around and were heading back. Had I not been there, they would have missed it again going the other way. I talked to them for a minute and then found another thicker log to stand on end to alert riders. Hopefully it prevented any other issues for the rest of the racers behind us.
The rest of the race was a lot of fun (the whole race was fun really…). There were some great descents, including the one down to the Elk Creek Valley. I carried some good speed through it and even came upon a trail magic-style water jug. Ahh….water. It was nice getting down to Elk Creek because it felt like a whole new world, almost like a jungle, especially compared to the higher and drier trail earlier in the race. The trail followed the river for a short stretch before we came to the first of five or six crossings. I can’t even remember the number of crossings at this point, because I was so focused on just getting through them one at a time.
We were warned that the river would be flowing pretty good and it turned out that they weren’t joking. I’m about 6’2” and it was generally about knee to thigh deep with a good amount of current. I just focused on getting traction one foot at a time and make it through without dumping my bike in the river. I’m not sure I could have handled it mentally at that point. Through the last crossing and there was a sign noting only one mile until the aid station. I’m not sure if it was really off or if, at that point, every mile seemed like two. Either way, it seemed like forever.
I arrived at Aid Station 4, took a seat, and downed some Coke and water that a volunteer handed me. Then one of the volunteers walked over holding a cold, wet handkerchief and put it on my neck. That was fantastic. A definite game changer. As I was gathering my things and getting ready to head out, I saw the singlespeeder that was behind me come in. I got the hell out of there and started climbing. Soon I came to a hike-a-bike and I looked back to see him walking up not far behind. He was looking kind of rough. With that in mind, I hopped on the next chance I could and pedaled hard up the hill. I looked back and he was quickly falling off of the pace. He seemed to lose more time with each climb and I continued to push hard to get away from him. Regardless of my placing during races, I take pride in being the one taking positions at the end of long races, not the one fading back. I pushed hard through all the remaining climbs and kept it smooth through the remaining awesome, flowy singletrack. The final descent was the best all day. It was pretty easy to stay positive throughout that downhill. We finally reached the final section that was 5-6 miles of trail starting with a tunnel under I-90. Just out of the tunnel, the course took a hard left and that’s where I could get another glimpse of the singlespeeder behind me. He managed to hang on, despite what he looked like several miles back. There were some uphill grass sections that paralleled the freeway and I used those to try to put it to him, thinking and hoping that maybe he used all he had trying to hang on. I gave it a good effort on the next several hills and he fell back. The problem is that I was totally spent – I didn’t eat or drink enough leading up to the last section and I thought that we were closer to the finish than we actually were. The trail kept leading around and I was getting worried. Short steep climbs seemed to never end and by the time I hit the last one, I had to walk. Unfortunately, he turned it on a lot, saw me walking, and put it to me on the last little climb. Props to him. I guess I went for it too early and he was a strong rider who wanted it more. I’ll get it next time.
I rolled into the finish at 9 hours and 44 minutes, which landed me 31st out of 73 finishers and 6th out of the 8 singlespeeders who finished. Not the result that I expected, but things can’t always go the way you hope when it comes to tackling this type of race. It was a great adventure and a lesson in shifting expectations to fit the day and complete the race. Endurance mountain biking is filled with these situations and I think that’s part of the draw. It’s part of what keeps us coming back. The Tatanka will be on my list of races in 2016 for sure.
The winning times were awesome – Jamie Lamb won the men’s open in 7:11, Brenda Simril won the women’s open in 8:53, and Richie Trent took the singlespeed title in 8:01. You can check the full results here: (http://racesplitter.com/races/7CC30CBBB)
– MY FINAL THOUGHTS –
First I’d like to point out that I’m not getting paid or bribed by anyone to write this. The Tatanka race director is a great guy, but I’m not going to pump up something unless it deserves it. Alright, now that I have that out of the way, I have to say that this is one of the best races you could do if you like endurance mountain biking. I thought that it would helpful to list out some positives and negatives of the event, just as a quick reference point.
– The terrain and area. Awesome, challenging trails and terrain across a very under-the-radar mountain biking destination. Rivers, rocks, green fields, trees, wildlife, and generally a great backcountry experience.
– Start at Mount Rushmore National Monument. Included was a relaxing hour bus ride from Sturgis to Mount Rushmore. It’s nice to have zero to worry about except riding your bike.
– Clear and numerous course markings. At no point during the race did I question whether I was on the right route. I didn’t even download the map on my gps. There was one spot where some people went off course that could have benefitted from having something across the trail. When I got there, I put two logs across it, so hopefully that helped. From most of the people I talked to after the race, they seemed happy with the markings and admitted that if they did go off trail, it was because they had hopped a log pile. Most knew they were wrong quickly.
– Fantastic aid stations. Every aid station was fully stocked with about anything you could ever want. Every aid station volunteer that I encountered went out of their way to get everything I needed, wanted, and didn’t even know I wanted (wet, cold handkerchief around my neck at Aid Station 4). Every person I talked to after the race mentioned how much they liked the aid stations and volunteers.
– Results. The results were quickly posted at the finish line.
– A really great group of racers out there. There was very little negative talk I heard out on the trail and all the passing that I encountered was extremely friendly and often lead to short conversations. You don’t get that in many places.
– Not too high of elevation. While the elevation is higher that a lot of areas, it’s not high enough to be a big deal like it would be if you traveled to other races in locations such as Colorado.
– Free meal the night before and after the race. Don’t expect a full gourmet meal, but both were good and very much an appreciated gesture.
– Drop bags were well organized. All we needed to do was drop them in the appropriate boxes for the specific aid station and they were all there, unharmed.
– Bike shuttle. The bike shuttle to the start was good and left the bikes unharmed. They packed all the bikes into some covered trailers. Initially I was concerned about damage, but they covered every bike in moving blankets and I didn’t experience any issues. I also didn’t hear about anyone else having issues.
– Live music at the finish line. Even though I wasn’t feeling all that great at the finish line, it was still great to have some music going. It was a much livelier post-race gathering than two years ago.
– Reasonable entry fee. At a final price of $140 for the long option, it’s considerably less than the next two NUE races (High Cascades 100 is $250 and the Wilderness 101 is $210).
– Tshirt. We received a tshirt with registration, but I’m not sure if it was a positive or negative. Using heavy cotton tees is a personal pet peeve that can’t seem to get over. Instead, I wish race directors would save the money, put it in their pockets, and offer us a nice, soft tshirt at a good discount for purchase. If not, they could budget in a nicer shirt (increase entry) or reduce the entry by the cost of not giving the shirt. I would gladly pay a little bit for a nicer shirt rather than having another one I’m not going to wear.
– Sturgis is easily accessible from many locations. It’s located about 400 miles from Denver, 300 miles from Billings, 600 miles from Minneapolis, and 300 miles from Bismarck. For us, the 250 mile trip was free of traffic and pretty easy to do.
– Cheap camping at the Hog Heaven Campground. Hog Heaven was the campground that the race recommended. At only $10 per person for the weekend, only a few miles from the finish line, with very few people, and a shower and bathroom, it was a no brainer.
– Free sprint car, go cart, and dirt bike racing with $2 beers Saturday night. Yep, you read that correctly. At the entrance to the Hog Heaven Campground is a dirt flat track with some fast racing. We stopped in and checked it out for a while. When can you do that after a race?
– Website. The information on the website was a little lacking and the website was slow to load. I personally had many people asking about elevation details and course information. They did add two posts in June and there was a generic map posted, but it didn’t seem to address the necessary information early enough.
– Prerace Communication. There wasn’t a lot of prerace communication and at least one of the emails that went out, didn’t reach many racers. It wasn’t clear where to go for the prerace check-in and meeting. The site said 5:30pm prerace pickup and that was it. It ended up being at a restaurant/saloon/bar called Knuckles but there was a lot of confusion among racers about timing and place. Fortunately, Sturgis is pretty quiet outside of the rally, so it was easy to spot all the mountain bikers.
– Course distances. Nobody had a confident answer. The race director wasn’t sure because of the reroutes around wet areas, which is understandable. But the uncertainty and lack of communication with volunteers lead to them trying to be helpful with incorrect distances. The volunteers were telling racers that they had much less left than they actually had. They’ll need to come up with a new name. If they keep it at the current 78-80ish miles (which I think they should), the “100” in the name should go.
– They need to promote the 50k option more. Some people I had offline conversations with didn’t realize there was a shorter option until it was too late to plan for it. It’s too bad because it’s a great option to convince your riding buddies to come along even if they’re not into the long route.
– OVERALL –
Overall, it was a very positive experience and a well-run race in a fantastic location that you should check out. BUT, this recommendation comes with a big warning. DON’T show up at the 80-mile start line thinking it’s doable for everyone who puts in some effort. If you get out for 3 hour road rides with your buddies and out sprint them up some hills, don’t think that equates to being able to show up and even finish the long race.
Are you worried that you aren’t very skilled technically? Worried about not finishing? It’s probably not your race. Are you into riding rocks and rock features that are strategically placed on the trail with nicely groomed stretches of flow trail? Don’t like getting off your bike? Do ruts and long grass anger you? It’s probably not your race.
Are you into wilderness/backcountry experiences? How about challenging singletrack trail that has rocks in random spots, beautiful views, and interesting terrain? Do you think hike-a-bikes are just part of any great ride? Do you find it more satisfying to create your own flow on the trail? Would you rather be on singletrack and doubletrack trail for an entire mountain bike race rather than dirt roads? This is your race!
It’s a race that commands respect and training to complete. You need to work up to it to be successful. The challenge is what makes it so special and satisfying. For those who start and finish, they can look over at the Black Hills as they leave town, knowing that they experienced some of the best, under-the-radar riding of anywhere in the country and conquered something worth sweating for.
I raced it in 2013, this year, and will definitely be back in 2016. I would recommend it to any of you who are up for the challenge. Take the challenge and “Ride the Bull.” You won’t regret it.
As a reminder, be sure to head over to the Tatanka Mountain Bike Race website for more information.
If you have any questions about this post or anything about Mountain Bike Radio, please feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,