Fourth Edition of “The Quiet Hell” to Offer Kinder, Gentler Options
THOMPSON, Conn. – Organizers of the fourth edition of the Natchaug Epic will introduce several new elements to the season-opening gravel fondo. In addition to some new course features, there will be a 61-mile “Explorer” course and a 32-mile “Express” course geared towards novice riders.
Registration opens on December 15 on BikeReg.com.
First organized in 2019, the event has steadily gained popularity for New Englander’s eager to test their legs against a tough course with a touch of competition. For some the early spring event has seemed too tough.
“While the gravel fondo format – with select segments timed and scored – encourages a friendly pace, simply completing the 82-mile course is daunting for any rider,” noted Richard Fries, co-founder. “We wanted to offer something that would challenge but not destroy a New Englander just getting off the trainer.”
The Explorer route will follow the Epic route, including the timed segments, for the first third of the route. Although Explorer riders will complete most of the fabled sectors they will be spared the savagery of the Bull Hill Road sector. The total elevation will be roughly 1,500 feet less than the Epic course.
Another addition will be a friendlier 32-mile Express route for the gravel curious. The ride will be led by experienced riders as guides and instructors. That short route, which does include the brutal Wakefield Pond Road section, will also be offered for a new junior division.
For 2023 there will be several other new elements. Those include:
- Chip Timing. Organizers have contracted with MainSport Event Timing and Management, one of the nation’s premier timing firms, to ensure results are processed quickly and accurately for all entrants.
- Saturday Recon and Ruckus. Organizers will again partner with Putnam Cyclery to host a Saturday reconnaissance of five of the Sunday segments. Pro riders will serve as guides. Snacks and coffee will be available before and after the ride. The Stomping Ground will also host riders to a special dance party that evening. Process of the Saturday events benefit the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program.
- Mass Starts. Each category will start en masse.
- Lead Moto. The Epic riders will have a lead motorcycle driven by Shaun Weigand, a UCI driver with World Championship experience.
- Complete Course Signage. While organizers expect and recommend riders have a digital route on their bike computers, the route will be fully marked. Traditional cue sheets will also be available.
- Second Rest Stop. A second rest stop featuring fresh cider donuts will be added in Woodstock to augment the hot grilled cheese offered in Eastford.
- Auto Route. Organizers will have a route option to encourage and inform friends and family to join the fun. The route will target strategic and photogenic sections of the course. These will include Wakefield Pond Road, Child Dome Road, Pulpit Rock Road and Bull Hill. But the auto route also offers stops at cafes, farm stands, orchards, wineries, bakeries, and shops.
The fourth edition of the Natchaug Epic will be held Sunday, March 26, 2023, at the Raceway Restaurant inside the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Conn. Community partners include the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, The Last Green Valley, Best Buddies Connecticut, and the Hole in the Wall Gang. For more information visit www.bikereg.com/natchaug-epic.