Joe Fox and the team built an awesome course. It lived up to the promise of being an A-game, all-you-can-eat buffet. Ma nature contributed, too, with an inch or two of snow and strong winds out of the northwest. The mix of off-camber turns, steep runs, and icy ground made most of the course unrideable. Some of the straight sections were even difficult thanks to the slippery conditions, which meant power was kept in check for most of the race. Running and climbing (on feet with bike shouldered) factored into finishing well in this one.
I arrived early enough to get in a few laps before the first race. At that time, there was enough snow on the ground to make the going pretty sain. After the women’s and master’s races, the course was chewed up to a muddy mess. All the lines I practiced during warm ups were gone. I wonder if pre-riding helped or hindered my performance.
Thirty four shivering racers lined up for the Cat-4 race. I squeezed on to the front row, knowing that the first transition to grass would string out and create a gap for the first few in line. The start was…slow. I bounced across the ditch in 3rd but quickly moved to first when the two in front of me spun out. I carried the lead through half of the first lap until my front tire washed on a transition. I lost time untangling my bike from a stake, which let Tristan catch up to me. I washed out on the next turn and gave Tristan the lead in the process. He never moved backwards! I watched him ride away with relative ease. I’m still in awe with how much more comfortable he was riding in the sloppy conditions. He spent more time upright and on two wheels, which gave him an easy win.
The same corner combination got me on the second lap. And, I lost another position to Josh. I fought my way back and took back second, only to lose it again on a nasty off camber just before the barriers. After that mistake, I decided caution was better than speed. I settled in and puttered around the course at a pace that only a grandma could appreciate. I pulled Josh back into my sights but ran out of race before I could catch him.
In addition to problems riding the slippery, sloppy course, I also had trouble with my cleats clogging up (Shimano SPD) and with my rear derailleur freezing. I rode most of the course on a single speed that was geared about 2 gears too deep. Getting back on the bike was also problematic—and considering the amount of off/running, transitioning killed time. Each time I would jump back on, the back tire would slide out from under me. Eventually, remounts became nothing more than stepping on a pedal and then swinging a leg over.