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Anybody ever race Battle of Burke Farm?

1573 Views 17 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  TedS123
I'm thinking of entering the sport class of this race and am wondering what the course is like relative to something like Fair Hill or Fountainhead, in particular how rocky it actually is (I just about had my fill of rocks for this season at the Massanutten Hoo-Ha! ;) ). Has anybody ever raced there?
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I haven't raced there (yet - I just signed up for this year's race, my first ever), but I live just ~1.5 miles from Burke Farm and ride there several times a week. The trail system is split into two sides.

The main side has a bit of everything. There are a couple miles worth of open, grassy field trails (mostly beginner/intermediate level) and a 4 mile loop through the woods with some flowy sections, a few roots and rocks, and some short climbs and downhills. There are a couple short "expert" sections that mainly consist of steeper climbs & hills, tighter/twistier turns, with some more rocks and roots mixed in.

Then there is the "Expert Loop", which has a separate entrance a few hundred feet down the road. This is a 3 mile loop in the woods along the side of a hill. So it has a lot of technical up and down, one longish rocky hill (maybe 1/2 mile?), a couple true nearly (but not quite!) unrideable rock gardens and tricky rocks scattered throughout, one sweet steep descent ("The Plunge"), a couple narrow bridges, and some log hops.

Last year the race course (6 mile loop) was all on the main side. In previous years they have gone over the expert loop, but I don't know if they will do so again - may have gotten some complaints due to the difficulty. (Personally, I hope they do because I've been practicing over there a bit and improving my skills:D .)

I can't give you a comparison to Fair Hill or Fountainhead, as I've never been to either, but hope this gives you a flavor for the trails. In any event, I say come try it out. I like the trails here and think there's something for everyone.

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thanks for the trail report.
I was debating between beginner and sport, it doesnt sound like a kick-your-butt course (like fountainhead or quantico) so I think Ill do sport
Good! I'll see you there! Even though it's my first race, I'm entering in Sport since I've been a runner for 15 years and have been back into mtb for the last 2 years, so my fitness is pretty decent.

A riding friend of mine has been to Fountainhead recently, and he calls it similar, but different. There are certainly a lot more easier sections at Burke (the "Field Trails" - green lines on the map), but there are trickier ones, too.
Just an update - they haven't marked out the complete course yet, but they did some prep work late last week. It appears that they may be including the expert loop in the race course this year. They cleaned up the entrance to it, and they put up yellow tape to close off the first small loop to the left (see the map above). Those were the only markings I saw, though.
Thanks for the info

I am registered and have never been.
Do they let you pre-ride the course? Can I just show up one afternoon/evening this week?
The trails are open to CAMBO (Culpeper Area Mtn Bike Organization) members any time. CAMBO members receive a sign to hang on their mirror when parking there, but I don't know who checks (although the main parking area is right next to the land owners' house). I expect that if you showed up when others were there, you would be welcomed to ride along as a guest. The LBS hosts group rides on Wed. and Thurs. at 6:30 p.m. These are nominally "beginner" (Wed) and "fast paced" (Thurs) rides, but the pace depends on who shows up. If you stopped in at the shop (The Bike Stop,, they might know more about the actual course and hook you up.

I plan to ride out there a couple times this week, so I'll post back if/when I see any markings. I'd offer to meet you there some evening during the week, but my weekday evening rides are very brief - since we have two young kids, we have a fixed dinner time of 6:30 each night.
Harder yet easier

If they include the expert loop then that section is hands down tougher than anything at Ftnhd. A kick ass, GWNF-ish rocky climb and a startlingly steep and loose downhill. Good, fun stuff but definitely a step up from Ftnhd. However it is just a small part of the race course in total.

The other side is completely different and you spend much more time over there. 2 yrs ago Sport did 2 loops on easy side and 1 expert loop. Other than the open field riding, there is a twisty, rolling pine forest loop with a couple creeks and some roots. Easy. Not sure what it reminds of in Nova...a flat Lodi maybe?

Anyways based on the time spent on Burke's easier side, ftnhd will work you more than Burke overall. But do not sleep on the expert loop...that downhill was crazy..startling is a perfect word for it.
Just got a message that the course has been marked out. But rain yesterday, today, and (supposedly) tomorrow will make it hard to check it out...
TedS123 said:
Just got a message that the course has been marked out. But rain yesterday, today, and (supposedly) tomorrow will make it hard to check it out...
Question, signed up for the race and have never been there, do you think a full on race rig is appropriate or 5 inch trail bike?
Spinning Lizard said:
Question, signed up for the race and have never been there, do you think a full on race rig is appropriate or 5 inch trail bike?
I've never ridden anything but a hardtail here: first my old '97 Iron Horse 26"er and now my '10 GF X-Caliber 29"er. There are a few things that I wasn't comfortable attempting on my old bike, but there's nothing on these trails that I'm afraid to attempt on my new one. I've ridden everything and have cleared all but maybe 2 or 3 of the most technical/rocky patches. So obviously I see no need for 5" of travel.

Ultimately, it will depend on your comfort level. I've seen folks look at me amazed because I rode one of the rocky downhill sections on my 26" hardtail. But if you're used to a hardtail and can handle it on a few roots and rocks, I think you'll be fine. There are several smooth flowy sections where it would probably be better.
Just an fyi...found out last night that the Expert Loop will be included for Sport and above, but will be ridden in the backwards (counter-clockwise) direction. In my mind this makes it a bit easier, since the rocky hills will be downhill instead of climbs. And the really steep downhill ("The Plunge") will now be a hill that I doubt anybody but extreme pros could ride up (I've heard of 1 pro-level person doing it). *Edit: Just realized that there are some rocky sections leading up to "The Plunge" (in the normal direction, they will be after it in reverse) that aren't too bad in the normal direction, that will be a bit trickier in reverse because they will be uphill.*

The course on the other side is laid out somewhat similarly to last year, but slightly longer. I'd guess it's ~7-8 miles on that side.
Spinning Lizard said:
What bike are you riding lizard??

Photos are up!

The photos from the race have been posted. Still waiting for results.

It was fun, but hot! I think I saw and/or met a few of you there. My info about the course for the Sport class proved to be incorrect (no Expert loop) - sorry if that threw anybody off. It may have been changed on the day of the race to reduce the mileage due to the heat, but I never heard it from an official source.

So what did you guys think of the trails and the race?
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