All last week I am looking at the weather forecast, Rain Thursday/Friday but sunny and 17 on Saturday, Perfect! Friday I take a half day off work and we head to the cottage. Once at the cottage we get things ready and check the Saturday forecast RAIN/RAIN/RAIN. Of course I brought out my it's not going to rain all will be great comment but I did not believe myself.
Saturday morning I wake up and hear the pitter patter of my son playing in bed as well as the pitter patter of rain on the roof. Now I was getting a little down as I have never been very successful at riding let alone racing in the rain. When I was out walking the dog it was pouring and I decided that screw it, this is going to be a fun day. Went back inside packed up my race gear and packed myself full of Turkey and cheese wraps so we could hit the road.
My wife was driving and I was looking out into the rain that just kept getting harder and harder until what's that ahead Blue sky and Sunshine. As we get even closer we came by spots that had not seen any rain. Maybe we were all worried for nothing. Maybe not... As we pull into the parking lot this crazy mist started it was thick and seemed to slime everything up instantly. I mentioned to a couple people as I passed them that this was nothing compared to at the cottage 1/2 hour away. The reply "so it's going to get worse?".
Went up to the lodge to get my plates and swag for the race and ran into a online/race acquaintance Dave who offered me a spot to pit under his tent. I eagerly accepted. After getting my bike and gear in order I saw my family off as it was not going to be the kind of day to hang out along side the course and cheer me on with a 4 and 9 year old. Back up to the pit area I made some final adjustments to my bikes rear brakes to eliminate the squeal and got my stuff together. Dave then pointed out his car and said to dump my dry post race bag in there. I did this and came back. Shortly after this lady I have never seen before comes up to me and says, "hey, you just scared the s#!t out of me!!". Turns our Dave's wife was sleeping in his car when he sent me over, oops. He then introduced us. She was still kind enough to cheer me on through the race and even mix me some Perpetuem late in the day.
Well back to the task at hand. After meeting and shaking hands with a few guys I have only talked to online in the past we all made our way down to find a place in the starting coral of riders. I met Mike and Jim there and mike gave me my gloves his wife had accidentally packed up 2 weeks prior after the 6 hour race. They were doing this one tag team as mike had raced Crank the Shield a 3 day stage race the weekend prior and was racing The Squeezer on Sunday. Chatted to them and others in the crowd and realized that the Singlespeed Solo guys were all pretty much alligned in the coral. 1 minute to race was called overhead. We finished up with the smalltalk and get ready for the horn.
Off we went into the trails, up up up the beginning climb. I had heard mixed reports on the course being a climbing course and being a technical course. The organizers always say it is a fast and flowing course. At this point I was thinking this climb is not that bad there must be another one ahead that is bad but up we went then back down a double-track section definitely designed to break up the group through a tunnel and... back up the opening climbs. Wow that was the shortest lap ever, well not really next time when we get to the top of the hill we go down a different route and into the course. I think I staged myself a little further back than I should have as I ended up in a tight group of riders through most of the first lap. Everything was slick especially exposed roots but as the organizers said everything was flowing well, but not fast yet.
fast came in the second lap I must have just got in a nice spot just in front of the masses. I realized quickly that Marc was on my tail and chatted with him a bit and kept pushing ahead of him on climbs. He was relentless though and kept catching me in the singletrack. I need to be a little more confident in wet singletrack but have found myself rubber side up too many times in the past in these conditions. Anyways I messed up on a rooty hill crest and got bumped by another rider and pushed off course. The other rider and Marc passed and dropped me quickly. I decided I was not going down that easy this early and gave chase. it took me the rest of the lap but I passed through the timing tent just behind him and caught up to him on the opening climb continuing the conversation from earlier to let him know I was there. I think this was a little of his own medicine.
Lap 3 I just decided I needed to lose him and kept pushing it around the course. I thought I had done this successfully until the end of lap 4 when I had just grabbed my yummy Watermelon slice at the timing tent and was getting back on course. I heard that Marc and Dave had just crossed head to head and were only seconds behind me. I had to lose them. I pushed through most of the lap harder than I had in the last couple laps. I was able to keep in front of them until almost the end of the lap when Dave pushed past me with power that just said you cant catch me. I realized that this was only lap 4 and I should probably slow my pace a bit so that I don't burn out before the end. Midway through the 5th lap Marc was able to squeak by me and start to create a gap.
I was really starting to love the watermelon at the pit's by the end of lap 5 and had found a great groove. I figured I was probably quite far back in the group with no podium chances so just decided to try to do better than the summer race and just kept my average pace as high as I could comfortably. I need to try not to discount myself like this in further races because I always end up closer than I thought I was.
Around lap 9 or 10 I was in a bit of a watermelon stupor when I heard someone off to the side of the course yell my name. A couple guys I thought were ahead of me were in street clothes discussing their day and I had to do a double-take. Not sure what happened to end their day early but it gave me a late day lift and I was off again. I was able to ride with limited pit-stops all day due to the temperature and was still feeling great except for being a little weaker on the opening climbs. On lap 10 Dave was successfully able to lap me and in lap 11 another Mike slipped past too.
At the end of lap 11 I saw my family cheering alongside and knew we were getting close to the end of the day. I grabbed a slice of watermelon from pits and set off. Hearing talk from the guys ahead that it was 5:05pm and cut-off time was 5:30pm for the start of another lap we had all decided this was our last lap. Time to just ride hard and enjoy without conserving energy for any more laps.
I kicked it into high gear and cranked through all of the fun spots in the course and rode climbs as hard as I had that morning. A ride behind commented "you look like you have another 8 hours left in you.". I let him know it was an optical illusion and away we went. The sun decided to peak through the clouds and a couple pine sections actually seemed to ride dry. One nasty section of peanut-butter trail still sucked the energy out of me but that is how it goes.
I came down the end of the track to my favorite section of super fast flowy singletrack and just cranked through it then one more time through the tunnel and out to my family. I hammered to the dismount sign and swiped in in 4th place. What a fun day and I was not completely wiped out. Later it would hit me that maybe if I pushed harder through the middle of my day I may have been able to make up the 20 minutes that Marc was able to put between us but 4th was something to be proud of anyway. Ended up with 12 laps that my cyclocomputer put at 132km ridden.
I grabbed the bike and the family and I went up and gathered my gear and load it in the van. On the way to the van my big toes started to hurt in the worst way. I screamed and my wife thought I had just lost my marbles. I had a quick shower which seemed to soothe the toes and then grabbed a Big Wheel Deluxe Amber and chatted it up with a few fellow riders.
I had so much fun. I don't know if I can remember a better day on the bike. Even though it rained through most of the day and it was all of about 13 degrees Celsius. Of course just before we leave this is what we were greeted with. Silver lining.
I am inspired to find another event before the end of the season but am not sure if it will be do-able. I am hoping that WOW decided to run winter WOW in the end because that has always been a favorite but things look grim on that angle.
I could probably just keep rambling but I should cut myself off. I'm out...