Vermont 50 MTB race

Has anyone ridden the Vermont 50? 50 miles 9000’ vertical MTB. Has a great reputation and I’d love to know why :). I just signed up and am unsure how I’ll survive it :rofl:

I just signed up tonight too, first time doing it or any race this long, and am now thinking, “uh oh what have I gotten myself into.” Wonder if 30-42 is enough :slight_smile:

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Hmm, I’m tempted. But Racing Leadville August 12th, will probably take most of the next 1-2 weeks off the bike, this might give me a little incentive to get myself back in gear, but at the same time I could be ready to take the fall off by then…

I’ve been training with a 10-52 Cassette and a 30T Chainring. Rode some REALLY steep stuff in NH recently as part of the Kearsage Klassic Course where I was glad to have every bit of that gearing, I’d bet this is similar.

@Lorichka6 Yes - I have done it 8 times and will ride it again this year. It is a great race - a mix of gravel roads, jeep roads and single track.

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Can you tell me more about it?

This kind of elevation in a day seems so crazy to me - but everyone raves about this race… How do they make 9000 vertical fun?!

I’m planning on sticking with the low volume plan (3 per week) + some longer easier rides on weekends on the trails. I have no real goals for the race besides to finish it - just trust the process, right?

@Lorichka6 I generally camp the night before. Reserve your spot with Mike Silverman if you are interested. The site is a mile or so from the start and camping allows you to avoid having to drive in the morning to get to the race parking lot. There are not many hotels nearby and plus the star gazing up there awesome.

It is generally cold and wet in the morning — lots of dew. However, I have raced on days where it warms up to to the 80Fs or 90Fs so make sure you can adapt your layering for different conditions as it is a long day. Humidity will matter too so experiment with your layers coming into the race.

Like many races, the start is in waves depending on your category. There will likely be a few ex-pros there. Ted King has raced VT50 a few times and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ian Boswell there this year given how well he did in the Cape Epic and because he lives nearby.

Definitely select novice as this is your first time.

It starts downhill on the road so be prepared for the additional chill of going at speed.

Soon after the climbing starts - again on the road - and it gets steep quick.

The first 30 miles will switch between gravel, paved and single track. There will definitely be some mud. Hopefully it doesn’t rain as the downhill single track can turn into mud ski slopes and become very sketchy.

At just before the 1/2 way point (mile 20 I think) there is a big climb - Garvin Hill. It is pretty steep towards the top but with with an aid station, a great view and a very fast downhill following the peak.

Around mile 30 there is a significant amount of single track - really nice flowing trails - but it can get a bit bunched up as the runners are generally sharing the course with the bikers at that point so you need to work together to keep things safe. It i also at a point in the race when you probably will be fatigued so you need to stay focused.

Cramps can be an issue and generally I have had success avoiding them by doing longer rides with climbs on weekends in the months before the race to get my legs accumulated. Nutrition and hydration will also be key not only during the race but leading up to it as well.

I live in the Boston area and find that Blue Hills works great as a practice course for the VT50. The riding there is a bit more technical than what you will experience in the VT50 but the terrain does a good job emulating some of the climbs that you will encounter. I used a loop on Strava that is 10 miles long and would work on building up to successive laps - peaking at 3. You don’t need to ride 50 miles to prepare - 30 to 35 is fine for a practice distance:

I generally start my season with a short to medium distance MTB plan and then move to a marathon distance midway into the summer. I do a short track race every two weeks in June and July and some longer distance races after that. Other than the occasional gravel race the VT50 is my longest event for the season.

I have been using Scratch hydration and also their cluster dextrin mix to start the race to ensure I get calories early and then switch to bars and eat stuff like watermelon, stroopwafels and PB&J at a few of the stops. I don’t stop at every aid stop - generally only 3 or 4. They have other stuff at the aid stations but I stick to what I know my stomach will tolerate.

Last year I finished in 6 1/2 hours including about 20 minutes at the rest stops, nature breaks and taking photos. I averaged just under 8 mph with about 8k+ of elevation gain. I was in Z4 for about 60% of the race and Z3 for 20%.

I have raced on hard tail and full suspension bikes. Both work great but obviously will handle differently. My latest FS is lighter than my hard tail and I feel like it handles the climbs better. I used a 32T and 10-51 cassette and that combo provided all of the gearing that I needed. I had to hike a bike only once last year when I felt a cramp coming while going up a hill late in the race.

Hope that helps and good luck!


Thanks @JSampson ! Hugely helpful :slight_smile:

Last year was my first real season on a MTB. I did the Wilmington Whiteface race (100k, ~7000 vertical) last year and I’m doing it again next weekend. Doing more elevation in almost 20 miles less (the course is usually 68 is miles) is what I’m most nervous about. Would you say that training wise my focus should really be on elevation on my trail rides? We are about 30 miles west of Albany so the Berkshires and Taconics and ADKs are accessible to us. Is there value in trying to do 3-5000 ft in 30ish miles to get used to this amount of vertical/mile?

@Lorichka6 Having completed Wilmington-Whiteface I think you are going to be fine. You will have the needed endurance for the mileage and your legs will be able to handle a long ride up hill.

Yes - I do think getting some elevation on trail rides makes a lot of sense. The VT50 has a mix of sustained climbs as well as “hammer up that $hit” type stuff that the trail rides can help you dial in. Sounds like you have a lot of the sub-threshold training so maybe add in some neuromuscular and anaerobic work one day every other week either on the trainer or via drills outside to increase your 5 to 60 second power and also your ability to recover from those outputs.

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