Course for “cross-country marathon” (or “XCM”) is not far from my house. The length of the loop – 10 km (measured with bike computer), elevation – 64 m, the total ascent on a circle – 211 meters (data from GPSies.com).
For many years, twice a season it meet competitions. Early in the season – three circles and in the middle of season – marathon 4 or 6 hours, depending on the age / gender. I found out about this course from familiar cross-country bikers. I myself have choose long ago to asphalt and was not interested for trails in the forest. But it so happened now that on road bikes we ride only far from city, we drive by car 50+ kilometres apart from megapolis. Therefore, the ability to quickly ride near house, even in the forest – looked great 🙂
I’ve decided to take part in the first competition, for three laps, and then – how it goes. I use a budget bike, but put on clipless pedals. Among all types of cross-country races only course for marathon is affordable for mine today level. I mean course without the so-called “Elements of cross-country” as a dizzying stunts 🙂
At forum I’ve found a link to the track, and watched the video from the go-pro. The track is owned by cross-country (Nordic) ski club named “Alpha Bitsa”, the main use – in the winter for cross-country skiing, skate-skiing style. To do this, it made a wide glades in the form of loops. Coating is in good condition, if ground too wet it sprinkled with sawdust. The first time I went to the end of April, it was warm + 17 C. However – on the course snow was still pressed enough for skating stroke – I met some skiers. Cyclists also were met 🙂
Regarding course. Here – a “window” to GPSies with the track, based on my real GPS track with binding to Nordic ski traces shown at the Open Street Map. The track in the forest, so the GPS is not always accurate. When GPS lost some satellites, recorded track smoothly shifted aside. Therefore, the sleek look of the recorded track in the forest does not indicate accuracy. And just in case – direct link.
For better description ten kilometers of course could be separated into two parts. The first five kilometers – “democratic” part. Ups and downs. Differences is more intensed than on the asphalt, but generally similar to riding a bike on the road. This part finish, if you look at the map, when you go through the lower field in the direction to start. In principle, you can go back to the start and warm-up on this 5-kilometer circles.
The second part begins with a long rise to travel to a bit other forest: more damp, dark and more relief. During this rise you gain 50 meters uphill (GPSies data) and come to the top of hill, though this is not visible, the forest around. But then, in 3.5 km long you need to storm this hill four times from different sides, not in a rise type, but as a climb. First climb is easiest, but it starts from the swamp, that could cover tires by clay. Second climb harder because it quite covered with sand. Third climb is most difficult, the overall rise is 40 meters with permanent increase of steepness, so the climb itself – 15 meters length came each time very unexpectedly. Fourth climb technically much like the first, but took heavier due to long rise before him. In dry weather, even on the flat pedals, all climbs could be taken on bicycle (without getting off). However, to tell the truth, I’ve realised it not from begin 🙂 Then – the bonus, a wonderful descent down hill to the field in a straight line, with a good profile (not so steep like from climbs), with a relatively smooth covering. On this descent I reach a top speed of this course. Today – 52 km/h. For this bike, I think, it is very much. On the asphalt road, on the same bike during brevet to Tver on the slopes of Klin-Dmitrov ridge I reached absolutely top speed for this bike of 58 km/h. Feelings were strong. In the forest, it is not so insensibly, as you do not have opportunity to look to the speedometer 🙂
The quality of coverage (and average speed) is highly dependent on the weather, as the forest stands on clay. After heavy rain a couple of days somewhere it’s flowing streams right on the way 🙂