I deliberately left the “race” out of the title, because, well, I don’t think what I did should be considered racing.
Drove up to VT on Saturday with my family. (The hotel had a pool, so the kids were happy.)
Saturday night and Sunday morning was a torrential downpour.
At the race, I could tell my head wasn’t in this. I didn’t stay for the results but I think I was DFL.
The race venue was a farmers field that didn’t drain well – it quickly turned into a slop fest. With temperatures in the 50s, everyone was scambling to dig up more base layers, and limb warmers.
The race promoters were giving out sweatshirts to all in attendance – an incredibly generous and thoughtful gesture.
I was freezing during registration, so I packed on every last stitch of warm gear I could find – base layer, rain coat, under helmet hat & fleece leg warmers on top of my normal race clothing.
The heavy rain turned the entire course into thick peanut butter. These less than perfect conditions led to a sizable increase in lap times, so the promoter cut us from 3 to 2.
With the pouring rain, I skipped my usual warm up and huddled under a tent until it was time to stage.
I had a decent start, and slotted into the top 5. The first lap was insanely greasy. The rear of my bike was pitching out 45 degress across the trail while my front wheel pointed onward. With the back wheel sliding around, along with the pedal strokes that spin out in the mud caused my lower back to flair up severely.
Halfway through the first lap the sun came out and I realized just how over dressed I was. The wet gear felt heavy and climbing was painfully sluggish. I know the girls who’s teeth were chattering on the start line were probably feeling just perfect right about now.
Girls passed me on the fireroads, I was stretching my back out and they were cranking.
The first lap was pretty slow, I wasn’t used to the bike slipping out, I didn’t know the trails and my back was screaming.
I was worried about my family being stuck in the car for hours while I was on the trails – there is a good chance my kids are unhappy with the situation.
As I came through the lap, my family was there cheering for me. They all looked relatively happy, so I stopped worrying about them.
The second lap I started to get some speed up and started feeling the flow. The mud had tacked up a bit as well, so the mud wasn’t quite so thick and greasy. I started hanging onto guys wheels as they passed and I realized I was babying my bike, my back and this whole performance. The trails here are constant single track. Lots of smooth rollers, plenty of twists and punchy boulder climbs that would be easy in dry conditions, but were too slick to even walk up today. I’d love to check these trails out in dry conditions.
It took me an entire, painfully slow, lap to finally get my head into the race. I was too far behind at this point to make any impact on my place. Clearly, lap two is not the time to start racing but at least I had a chance to work on handling my bike in wet conditions. Aside from that, this race was an utter embarrassment.