It is very humbling when you think of yourself as a decent “age group” athlete, but then you step into someone else’s playground and you quickly discover your skills at this new sport is average at best. That was one of many feelings at the end of today’s Conquer the Hill at Miller School of Albemarle race. What were the other feelings?

  • Pride: I just finished three laps of a very difficult mountain bike (MTB) course which exceeds my last attempt of racing my MTB.
  • Knowledge of not knowing: I still cannot get nutrition correct. I ran out of water in my hydration pack on the third loop AND was really feeling the lactic acid in my legs for riding up hills for the past three hours. Not having water made me very nervous, but I found a “lucky water bottle” in the middle of the road which held me to the finish line1.
  • Excitement: from doing this race, I’m feeling much better about Xterra next month (which is also located at the Miller School)

The day started perfect. I wasn’t too nervous during the two hour drive to the Miller School located in Charlottesville, VA. The best part about the drive was the smell… it smelled like race season. Trust me, Fall has a smell, Winter has a smell, and race season has a smell.

Once I arrived at the race site, I was able to get my racing bib, get my gear in order (which now includes a brand new GoPro Hero5 w/ Bike mount), and started to wander around the campus on my bike to spin out my legs and take in the race vibes. Andy (the race director) gave a quick 411 on the race course and details on how the event will start. The plan was to start at the school entrance to make everyone climb to the starting mat to ensure the field would think out a little as the trail quickly collapses to a single track without much room for passing another racer.

The race was a never-ending bombardment of challenges of technical turns, navigating ruthless root systems, enduring monster climbs like “Puke Hill”, or ripping through the grassy fields at almost 30mph. During the ride I was able to talk to some GREAT racers. I don’t know them by name, but loud hub (Tune Mag?) kid, fellow Cat 3 riders, 3rd loop ladies (who were thinking of doing lap 4 where I was NOT), and GoPro Lady… thanks for making the ride a little more pleasant by having our quick chats during the ride.

Strava Ride Activity

Relive Video

Post Race

Overall, it was a great time. I wish I could be a little more competitive as I was barely a mid ranked rider of the CAT 3 group (the lowest group). But with this only being my 2nd race and not my primary sport I’m OK with my results. The race was well organized in terms of markings, course routes, and ensuring that the PRO riders were not hindered too much by the slower riders with the uphill start. Only item that was missing at the end was some good eats (pizza, BBQ, coke). Next year, yes next year, I’ll know to make sure to bring my own supplies for a post race snack that is not encased in an individual serving wrapper.

However, any future Charlottesville, VA race will require a visit to Starr Hill brewery with the 106 Street Food Truck’s awesome Chicken Mesquite wrap that was absolutely the best meal I have ate in a long time (this statement is completely influenced by the fact I just rode my bike for almost four hours.)


  • MALE Cat3/Beginner Men 35+: 5th of 7
  • All Participants: 83rd of 120

Results are posted by Race Category or by the number of laps.


Beautiful trails located at the Miller School of Albemarle

Photos capturing the never-ending failures MTB riding

Event Photos


  1. Yes. I snatched from the ground, drank, and enjoyed someone else’s full water bottle because I was that desperate. 


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