Welcome to Quick Fill.
It’s time to go racing once again! This weekend’s John Penton GNCC in Ohio is coming together and we’re excited to get the weekend underway. The John Penton is the oldest event currently on the schedule with this year marking the 31st version of the event. It originally joined the schedule as the Burr Oaks GNCC, but was renamed to honor the legendary John Penton, who is from Ohio.
I talked a bit about John in last week’s edition of Quick Fill, so if you want a super brief history on Mr. Penton, take a look HERE. Of course, that’s just a small sampling of the John Penton story and if you want more, don’t forget about the movie that came out several years ago simply titled Penton: The John Penton Story. You can rent or buy it on Vimeo On Demand, or find DVD copies for sale online from several sources. It’s well worth the watch!
As for this weekend’s John Penton GNCC, we’re well aware that the current weather forecast isn’t very favorable. We’re also well aware that this can be an incredibly difficult place to ride when it’s raining. We’ve done our best to make this course as good as possible if it’s dry, but also still passable if it rains. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the rain stays away, but just in case we’ve done everything we can to eliminate as many bad spots as possible.
Speaking of the course, I’ll give you the usual run down of what to expect. You’ll be starting at the end of the lap, so you’re going to cross the road and hit a short piece of woods before skipping the motocross track and finish line areas. You’ll run through a mix of field, open woods and some tighter woods to the one-mile mark. At the one, you pick up a section of tighter trail that does a good bit of turning before you pop out into another field section to the two-mile mark.
At the two, the PM races will drop down into the long, rocky creek run that we always use. This will be the Monster Mile section, and you’ll make a turn in the creek, run up another creek bed and hit the big flat rock hill climb below the pits. This brings you back into the field again, before dropping back into the woods and up the big hillclimb behind the concession stand. You’ll run across the top of the hill, drop back down and hit a short field section before dropping into some open woods over to the three-mile mark.
From the three to the four-mile mark, you’ll have some short up and downhill spots through some open trail before dropping into another creek section and to a fun little uphill. This brings you into some tighter woods over to the five-mile mark where you’ll then drop into another bottom section along a little valley. You’ll work your way through this valley, then pop back up the hill a bit and hit some open trail over to the six-mile mark. This trail has some spots where it opens up a bit, goes up and down, and a little bit of off-camber.
At the 6.7 mile mark, the 1PM Bike race will split off and head into The John Penton Section. If you’re not familiar with the Penton Section, it’s a tight, technical, old-school section with a lot of ups, downs, off-cambers and even a little bit of grass track to give you a short break. We skipped it last year because it was virtually impossible to make it around due to huge amounts of sloppy mud just sitting on top of the ground. That's all washed away, so with a few tweaks and some new trail, this year's version will be good even if it gets wet. The first part of the Penton Section has a couple of tough climbs in it before you pick up some really cool single track. It then drops down into a valley you’ll have to work your way out of, and once you make it out you’ll get a little break across the grass track.
On the other side of the grass track, you’ll drop into a section of brand new, hand cut trail for a bit. It’s tight and slow but most of it is fairly flat. This is until you’re headed through the last part of the Penton Section. In the new hand cut trail, you’ll drop down through a ditch, then have to make your way up a steep bank out of it. Once you’re out, you’ll pick up a little bit of previously used single track, but there’s one off-camber log you’ll have you’ll have to get across. There’s several ways to do it, but it’s not exactly easy!
From there, you’ll climb a short hill, then through some off-camber trail before heading back to tie into the main course just a few yards past where you left it. ATV riders will skip the Penton Section because, well, a quad won’t fit! There’s a section of faster trail over to the seven-mile mark before a mix of off-camber trail with a few dips and ditches all the way back to the road crossing and over to the eight-mile mark. The eight will be right next to the start, but you’ll run through another section of woods with some fun up and downhills, plus a big grass track before you hit the nine-mile mark and tie in where you started.
Your next time by, you’ll hit the motocross track and the finish line before heading back out for your next lap. Overall, the ATVs are looking at just around ten miles and with the Penton Section added in the PM bike race will be about 12.5 miles. We’ve still got our fingers crossed that the rain stays away but if it hits us, we’ll do everything we can to keep everyone moving and avoid as many bottlenecks as possible. They called for rain at High Point too, and we got lucky there so hopefully that lucky streak continues.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’m headed back out into the woods to put the finishing touches on everything. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you at the Penton!
Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)
I was packing for this weekends race and the wife asks me what I need. I reply “the usual” and then stop and add “rain gear, muck boots, a do-rag, a light jacket, a heavy jacket and a dust mask!”. She never missed a beat, all she said was “John Penton, huh?”
Yes folks, southern Ohio this time of year can mean anything is possible and it usually will all happen over the course of any race held there. I was thinking back over the years and do not recall any race that wasn’t impacted by some weather related thing. The mud has been called peanut butter and the dust can rival anything the world has ever seen. The brush is thick, the ticks are hungry and you know what, we love it! I’ve shot this race in waist deep water, slid down hills and fought to get back up and choked on enough dust to kill the Marlboro man but it is always an exciting event with usually very good racing so ruck up and get cracking, you don’t want to miss this one.
From a photographer standpoint, elements of the weather can make for some cool shots but if it were my call, it would be a bright light overcast, temps in the high 60’s and a nice drizzle for about 30 minutes every evening. Dust kills me as it really cuts down on the amount of images even though you can’t deny a cool roost shot isn’t well, cool! Mud, well that too can make for some seriously good images but identifying who is who can be near impossible which adds to the already time killing work load after the race. So heading in to this weekend I’m not expecting anything grand but you just never know.
This contribution to Quick Fill is going to be quick this week as I am busily rushing to get things done around here. The weeks seem to flow together and if you blink you’ve lost three days. Add to that all the craziness going on in our country and it’s no wonder I forget what day it is. The start then abrupt halt to racing has really thrown us all for a loop and the only way to trudge through it is to press on and keep good thoughts and prayers we will never have to go through any of this again. I know Saturdays race schedule is insane but the smiles on everyone’s faces through the myriad of races and special events proves we all need a release from the day to day kind of stress so no matter what the weather try and have some fun out there!
That’s all from me this week as I look forward to seeing how this shindig goes down. After the last round we have some racers who seem to have gotten really hungry for a win so things might get real close out there! Heck even the eMTB race was a hoot and this one should be no different. Charlie Mullins is like the bionic man as others huff and puff to just get a few laps in but it is a blast to watch. Remember to be safe in all you do and may the good Lord continue to bless us all! See you at the Penton.