Not sure why I signed up for this event. I think because I did well at the Burn, I wanted to see if I could replicate that result. Unfortunately, attending this event meant missing Escape from Dark Mtn. and the Fat Tire Festival. Still, I was excited to do something different.
The venue was amazing. I drove up with Matt (36er guy) and we decided to arrive Friday night and get a preride lap in. We were amazed to find that we were the only ones there. The place was deserted. We started checking out the facilities and ended up scaring the beejeezus out of one of the race directors when we peeked into the restrooms (oops).
So, we find our teepee lodging (a wooden teepee, no buffalo hides), unpack and get ready to ride ~9pm. Don't know how or when it happened, but ~2.5 miles into our wet, mucky preride, I hear a click-click-click. I have heard that sound before...broken spoke on my Mavic C29SSMAX. End of preride.
After getting back to the teepee I called a couple guys that I knew were arriving the next day to beg for a rear wheel. This is what is so great about the mtb community here: I called two people, and as it ended up, three guys were willing to bring me a rear wheel. I took Kelly K. up on his offer of a Bontrager Duster (or was it Mustang) and the relaxed for a very, very cold nights sleep.
Lets get to the race.
First two laps were fairly uneventful. I really like the course, however, it was wet, the roots were slippery, and it made the legs feel heavy. Lap three I went down three times, no injuries, just low speed falls due to slippery roots and pedals too tight...I started walking a few sections just to stay safe. I loosened the pedals and headed out for lap 4, averaging ~1:03 to 1:05 a lap over ~8.5 miles. During lap 4 I was getting sick of constantly slipping and slogging over the course. I had a bad slide into a tree that bruised up an already bruised shoulder, then on another low speed crash, I did not want to fall on my bruised shoulder so I put my hand down (the one I broke at Shenandoah) and that hurt. At that point I was done. I did not want to risk injury that might keep me off the bike for an extended period of time so I made up my mind to call it a race. My legs actually felt great, so I picked up my pace, caught a few guys, including Brett E., who also decided to call it a race. Since he was also on a single-speed he refused to let me pass him, and since he was nice enough to invite me up to Shenandoah, and to bring me a rear wheel, I though I would let him finish in front (though I am sure he would argue that I couldn't pass him if I wanted, but I could have!). So, I went to the fire pit where Brett, Kelly, Jeff, Dale and others were pitting and hung out to cheer on Matt and his 36er SS solo effort. Matt took 3rd, which is awesome, and I took last, which is embarrassing, but $#it happens. Really I could blame this poor result on my switch to a 29er. The bigger rim requires longer spokes which are more vulnerable to rocks, roots or just my heavy butt. Maybe I should switch back? What do you think?