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March 6, 2012

Cat Claw Version 2012 – Notes on the course.

Filed under: Trail News - Solavaca Ranch — mack @ 10:10 am

Reporting as of March 6. Those of you who have experience on the trail or even in the past races might want to pay attention. This year the trail will not have much different in terms of navigating around, but it will ride differently because of the number of seasonal springs that pop up when the big rains come. And we had two big rain events in February. These springs are not the bubbling spout of water, but seeping wetness that covers a larger area. It generally lays atop the ground until I cut a ditch in it. Then that ditch will fill and run for weeks sometimes.

A pre-ride is always the best idea, but this year, there are wet places where you would not expect them. So a pre-race experience will be particularly useful if you can get it. Wet spots in the turns will require some testing to see what speed they can take. I like the less agressive knobs out here usually, like CrossMarks, Small-Block 8’s, or the Specialized Renegades. But you may want some knobbier tires in those wet turns. It’s not like the whole trail is wet. Most of the wet areas are within 1/4 mile of the expo area. In the pasture where the bridge is located and north along the lazy slopes coming off the hill to the west, there are multiple areas of seepage. Twist ‘n Shout is soft but not sloppy.

Then there are wet creek crossings. All of them except the one just after mile 4, which has a short bridge over almost all the flow. The water in not deep, but it is pretty wide at crossing 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. In 2010, the problem was at the exits to the crossings. As riders came out of the creek, they dragged water up the banks and in some cases, the banks became so wet that they dissolved into a muddy sludge. The first and 3rd creek crossing in the Lower Creek were armored after that race and so that problem will be somewhat under control. But the mud will probably develop 40-50 feet up the hill from the exits after a hundred or so riders hit it. We are putting carpet at some places in an effort to improve that.

There will also be a re-route at about mile 8.2 in order to avoid a long stubborn swamp in the bridge area.

Ironically, the rest of the trail, about 97% of it, could use some rain. It is loose in a few corners and very dry in many stretches.

I hope that helps. We like to think that these challenges will just make for another great day of fun on the solavaca. Come see what mountain biking can be!

3 Comments »

  1. Any chance of the trail being open this weekend for previews? The forecast doesn’t look promising!

    Comment by Art — March 6, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  2. I assume there is a chance that we will be able to open. That’s because optimism is my nature. But I guess we’ll have to see. Most of the trail could actually use rain – maybe 1/2″.

    Comment by mack — March 6, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  3. The rain held off until today, Friday 3/9. It’s light, but let’s see how this develops. Still hoping that we can get some pre-rides in late Saturday and all day Sunday.

    If you remember the rock garden on the hill in the first mile, you also remember the brisk downhill next, interrupted by a jump. What follows is a hard left turn, and then a right. That left turn is out. The trail is extended straight for a few feet and then turns right, looping back to pick up that last climb before you are through with that hill. All this is to avoid another seep. This is all marked off with yellow tape. Keeping you from discomfort is my job. Right?

    Comment by mack — March 9, 2012 @ 9:04 am

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