Austin Rattler MTB 2021

Anyone here going to ride the Austin Rattler in November? This will be my first foray into MTB racing as primarily an ultra TT roadie, so I’m thinking of just opting for the 40mi race to get my feet wet, but I know the 60 is a Leadville qualifier. Would love to do Leadville some day but that’s probably a few years out.

Anyone have any tips on the course, tire/gear selection, etc.?

Do the 60 if you have experience doing long events. As you mention, it’s a Leadville qualifier. If you get a spot, they normally allow you to defer it out into the future. I got a Leadville spot at last years rattler and deferred to 2022 since I was already in for 2021.

The course isn’t technically challenging in the traditional sense, but it’s a hard course to maintain any momentum. Lots of punchy climbing wears most folks down. I ran a pretty chunky front tire (forekaster)since the are quite a few loose sections, some of them off camber turns at bottom of descents. I’m not a great mtb’r, so the extra grip on the front was really good for confidence. There were a lot of dnf’s, definitely a course you need to pace properly because there is no way to get around the course soft pedaling if you blow up.

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Similar to above comments - last year’s course was full of loose off camber turns - loose sandy with chunky rocks mixed in. Turns often came at the bottom of a short decent and right before the next punchy climb which made it difficult to build any momentum. I also used a Forecaster on the front with an Ikon on the rear and traction was pretty good. I went down only once in one of those off camber turns when my front tire rolled over on a rock buried in the sand.
My biggest issue was race day was relatively warm and humid and I did not hydrate or pace properly. If I remember it was about 80 F. I started cramping bad toward the end of the 2nd lap and I was one of those DNFs. Later when I looked back it was clear I under hydrated and should have been supplementing more electrolytes.

I don’t think the course has updated on the website yet but they did email this out to previous participants:

Mostly double track, smoother than the prior two years and less climbing. The course will take you up, over and around the highest peak on the ranch. Saddle up- you’ll face a mixture of rock, dirt and gravel. Beautiful views and unique terrain throughout the course.

IMO this would be a good change. I did not particularly enjoy last year’s course as it did not play to my strengths and I did not have the right tires. I do better with longer sustained climbs and rockier terrain in general. I was not prepared for the looser soil and constant up-down, off-camber as others described. I just couldn’t keep any momentum or flow. For tires, I rode my normal XC race tires (2.25 Mezcal) and those were a bad choice for that soil. Agree with the others about the Forekaster being a decent choice. I’d definitely ride something with more float in in a 2.4 width.

All that said, I’m glad I did the event last year and I’d consider it again but can’t this year due to family obligations.

Any more information on the 2021 course? I looked at the course on the website and it IS slightly different than my GPS track from 2020 but it was created in 2019 so perhaps an alternate course that wasn’t used last year?
I’m not sure if it has been marked yet or anyone has ridden it recently.

I just polled my local MTB Facebook group (central Mississippi fwiw) and several people mentioned they have done the race multiple times on 2.35 Ikons both front and rear.

I am currently running 2.35 Ikon front with the 2.25 Aspen rear… I may end up putting the 2.35 Ikon back on the rear for this event. I have never ridden Reveille but did a short XC race on the Mississippi Coast this past weekend with lots of sand and the Aspen was not a great option in the sand.

I did the 33k last year on Rekon 2.4. I was definitely over tired, but I will say it was nice to have the added confidence of those tires. I saw lots of people with DNF level flats and plenty of people wiping out on sandy descents. The course itself was very challenging for someone who doesn’t have much experience climbing.

I typically run 2.25 aspens front and rear on XC courses, but the new rattler course doesn’t really reward a fast rolling tire from my perspective. I ran a forecaster front and ardent race rear last year and that would be my choice if I did it again. An ikon in the rear would be fine also, but I like some meat up front at the rattler. Yes, a forecaster is a pretty chunky front tire for much of the course, but I’ve ridden many laps out there and the extra bite on the front on the loose sections makes for faster (and safer) laps for me. When I try to ride the course at race pace on a less aggressive front tire, I am often on the edge of losing the front end on the loose sections and it gets in my head and I have ended up on the ground a few times. I’ve probably done 30+ laps out there (I live close by). After fighting the course for a long time on “fast” tires, I tried the chunkier front and got faster. All that said, I’m not the best technician on a MTB, so a more skilled rider might not need the extra bite on the front. While I’m not a great technician, I’m also not slow rolling the course at a cautious pace and the forecaster/ardent race combo was fast enough to get me on the podium for my age group. Just my perspective, YMMV.

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I’ve done a few XC mountain bike races and XTerra as well. 60 miles on a MTB on even a slightly technical course is very very long if you haven’t done it before. And even longer if you aren’t an experienced MTBer. MTB requires constant attention and maneuvering, unlike a TT bike where you can typically just drop your head and pedal. Plus, you aren’t going to be averaging 20+ mph like on your TT bike. Just a few things to consider.

I raced in 2019 on a ht 120mm fork and 3” lightweight WTB Rangers. The mix of rocks, granite slabs and sand made it challenging. It seemed like every fast descent had an off camber turn at the bottom, so yeah, no momentum. I did enjoy the climbing. I would take a whole race of just that if I could.
And I’ll never forget the lightning and tornado in the middle of the race!

And @grwoolf :point_up:That was a great reply

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If you are in Texas and want to get into longer MTB events consider the TMBRA marathon series this fall as well.

The rattler course is not that technical, bottom of most hills you can’t really carry speed and it makes the course really punchy. Any handling skills that can get you up the other side even a bit faster is helpful. I ran 2.4 Aspens front and rear last year, I did get one puncture but a plug fixed it quick. If you have the endurance fitness spend some time on the mtb and practice the skills side. That’s probably where your biggest time gains will be.

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I don’t remember a tornado, but yeah, it was pretty epic rain, thunder, and lightning. The irony is that most of us had already started our 2nd lap before the bad weather hit and we didn’t know the race was called until after that lap. So, we rode through the thunderstorm on lap 2, but then they pulled us off the course at the end of that lap when it was clear skies. I understand why they had to do it since they had already stopped some riders before lap 2, but it still kind of sucked to stop racing after the weather had turned perfect. That kind of weather is more common in October, usually not too stormy in November. Temp is unpredictable though, could be in the 30’s or in the 80’s that time of year.


About what percentage of the 20mi loop is proper single track and what percent is jeep/fire road?

How long from the start line until the first pinch point (entry into single track)?


I was supposed to be there for this… but I can’t get into the country.

So much for “open in November”.

Absolutely gutted. :sob:

Based on the course last year, the first and last mile are the only significant portions of fire road. There were a few sections of double track throughout the race, but its mostly single track and some wider hiking trails. There was a bit of a choke point within the first minute or two of the race as your transition between some fire roads.

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Yeah I didn’t know there was a tornado until I got home!

I’d say ~5% is proper single track, but there is not that much true fire road either. Vast majority is wide enough to drive a atv on, so no issues passing on almost all of the course. You could consider much of it single track because it’s got a primary line worn in in many places, but you don’t have to go “off course” or ask people to move over to pass in most places. There is a short single track section that could be a bit of a bottleneck a couple miles in, but there is a little climb on the road leading up to it that spreads things out pretty good.

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Does anyone know if the MTB slots are full? When I go try to register I only get the option of the free kids race.

I didn’t see anything calling it out on the site or on

I got an email this morning that it was full. There is a waitlist. You might check the race website for a link to that.

Yep, RD just emailed me. On the waitlist.