Saturday was a magical day for cycling in the Tri-State area, especially The City of Port Jervis. The inaugural Erie 80 Mountain Bike race took place in the brand new Watershed Park Trails & Recreation Area. The trail system is the brainchild of Dejay Birtch, a Port Jervis native. Birtch currently lives in Arizona, but returns frequently to build trails. Dejay, along with TC Crawford, the owner of Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, plus an amazing volunteer trail crew, have carved out over 25 miles of trail. All their hard work was on display yesterday.
The registration and staging area took place in front of and inside the tiki bar at the Erie Hotel and Restaurant. The Race drew over 150 registered riders, a huge number for a 1st year race. The Erie 80 is an 80 kilometer(50 miles) Race. A 40k and 12 mile Fun Race were also offered. It all kicked off at the corner of Front Street and Jersey Avenue and headed up Pike Street, onto Orange Street, a left on Reservior Avenue and into the Watershed.
The volunteers really shined. Every turn was clearly marked, making it easy for all riders to stay on course. The aid station at mile 9 and again at 12 was stocked with energy snacks, water, soda and all kinds of goodies from Honey Stinger. Trek Bicycles was on hand to help with repairs.
On a personal note, it was really cool to hit the trails with riders of all abilities, from extremely fast racers to average MTB enthusiasts to road riders, like me who were finding out just how hard mountain biking in a densely wooded forest can be.
Three miles in and we climbed to the top of Point Peter, treating the riders to a majestic view of Port Jervis, the Delaware river and the Catskill, Pocono and Kittatinny mountain ranges.
I rode with friends, Jim from Long Island and Sean and Pete from South Jersey. At mile 6, Sean shredded his rear tire on a rock. He booted the tire with a candy wrapper and rode on for a little over a mile, when the hole proved to be too much for the foil wrapper to seal. From that point, he walked to the aid station, where Trek/Bontrager had a bin full of tires, tubes and a little of everything to keep the riders going. A quick tire change and Sean was back on the trail. Everyone endured a little pain yesterday, whether it was of the mechanical kind or physical, but it was well worth it.
The terrain was a mixed bag of hills, smooth trail and some rock gardens, until we re-entered after exiting the mile 12 aid station. From there, it was rock garden after rock garden, really challenging riders. In between the rocks and hills, were bench cut trails, that carved they’re way through the hills, while overlooking streams that flowed from reservoir to reservoir. Oh, and least I forget the amazing views of all three reservoirs.
The Race came to an end right where it all started, complete with a professional finish line, a beer garden and entertaining finishing ceremony. Don’t miss this race next year. If you don’t currently ride a mountain bike, start training, you won’t be sorry!
Results from the Erie 80 MTB race can be found here.