As promised we made it out to Juan Pelota Ranch to get you a race course preview. While Lance slogged away training we had the trails all to ourselves. Small Flick'r photostream here.
Hopefully we'll give all of you making your way to the race some good planning info. Things you can use for bike and tire selection, maybe even it will help your training.
Keep in mind that the exact race loop isn't marked or complete by any means so we're doing our best to get you some advanced info. As things become more concrete we'll keep you updated and get you a Garmin file.
The ranch, outside of Dripping Springs, Texas, is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The rolling terrain will keep the event from being a pure drag race, but the course is fast. Lot's of open space and plenty of room to pass. While the course is mostly singletrack, there is never much cover, save for a few sections mixed of scrub oak.
The race course will start in a pasture near the infamous Dead Man's Hole and you'll be heading uphill right away. The climb away from the pasture is interlaced with some short recovery sections with a mix of hardpack, loose rocky, and ledges.
After several minutes of work you'll near the ranch house and some recovery. The course again is open and very fast, lots of big ring with some technical aspects, like dropping through small ravines and washes with some small ledges thrown in for good measure. Lots of pinch flat potential in these sections as you're moving fast.
Tire selection has been a big question, as race days get nearer we'll re-visit thsi one based on course conditions. There is no one tire to cover the range of conditions so plan on one for tacky and one for dry. On the tacky trail today just about anything with a little tread and side know a would have worked. In dusty dry conditions you need good tread and larger side knobs to keep the bike on the course as the course can get especially loose in some of the faster corners.
Over the next few miles the course mixes in some small climbs mixed with fast uphill and slower false flat open sections. These sections are again predominantly open singletrack and some jeep trail. During these middle miles you'll work away from the ranch house and then back towards it and the start. You'll have another steady slog in the form of a jeep trail back up then down to the start finish.
It will be a great race course, especially for those that love fast, big ring sections mixed with enough climbing to keep it selective. For those familiar with the Texas racing scene it is less technical than the old Flat Creek Ranch course nearby, maybe more similar in speed amount of climbing to the Belton BLORA course, with more open sections.
As for bike choice it seems tailor-made for a 29'er hardtail and for the brave souls with rigid SS you'll manage nicely. With the fast, open singeltrack we were still pretty fresh after 2 hard laps.
The right dual suspension rig would fair well also, you can likely run a bit on the firm side if you do. Our past test rides on dualies we felt more inclined to leave the bike in the pro pedal setting and blast away..