Wow, what a way to start the season. Unbelievably epic conditions that separate the hard men from the boys.
For the last month or so I was really looking forward to kicking my season off at Rhett's as it's been a good course for me in the past. I completed what was probably my most productive 4 week block of training ever the week before, took 4 days off the bike completely and then got in a good tempo ride on Friday and some nice hard intervals on Saturday. I wasn't primed and ready but I was rested and figured this course suited me pretty well and thought I'd be able to hang in there.
When the forecast started to get really bad, I started to get really excited. I don't know why, but I love a hard, muddy race. I've been changing my tires up this year and running low resistance high volume tires and was apprehensive to yank off the brand new set of Pythons I had put on my race wheels, but after talking to Dan Miller during the week I was sure it was going to be nasty so I put on the heavy duty Maxxis Medusa mudders. After a couple reports from promoters and racers alike and given the fact that Columbia didn't get any rain on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning and put a pair of intermediate Hutchinson Toro tires on and thought I was good- 3 tire changes and a half a bottle of Stans Race Day Sealant later.
We arrived in Columbia to find that it was a muddy mess. It was a decent sized field but with Elwell and Schottler there I knew how things were going to unfold. I jumped into the woods first and quickly found myself in a number of high speed slides that somehow didn't end catastrophically until I was trying to ramp up a little speed for the 180 before the climb and found myself in the woods, facing the wrong way down the trail. Elwell passed me, but I was surprised there wasn't anyone else in tow and we took off up the climb until he was slowed up to ask for directions and Schottler and Musselman caught up. Crossing the power line muddy bog mess I quickly realized that I didn't have nearly the power these guys did and my tires were so packed up they were spinning freely.
Back into the single track and it was clear that I wasn't feeling fluid in the mud yet and repeatedly found myself in the woods or in the mud. I was on the limit. I popped out of the single track a little too fast trying to gas it for the rocky climb and hit the big slab of wet rock and hit the deck, hard. It took me a little while to shake it off and to be able to start to move my arm again and Drew and a Hub rider passed. I was pretty shaken up, in a lot of pain and thinking about calling it a day. Then I considered that I was probably going to start to feel a little better as the race went on and there were going to be some people with problems, so I kept going. The highlight of lap one was realizing that they had shortened the course, probably by about two miles, which made me very happy.
There isn't much to say about the rest of the race. I started to feel better and while the Toros were horrible mud tires, they were pretty good when the rain turned the track into something that was slick on top, but had a relatively hard bottom. I also started to run everything that was slow to ride. I ran quite a bit. On the third lap I had worked myself back up to third, passing Drew and the Hub rider and due to Schottlers continued terrible misfortune, and started to catch up to Musselman. Truthfully, I thought he was really fading and I didn't make a large push to catch him thinking that the steady approach would work and not having the wattage to burn, but I was wrong and he opened the gap up considerably when he saw me. My only other real mishap took place when I scraped the elbow that was gushing blood on a tree. That hurt.
My boy Drewballs had a very impressive ride and was putting the screws to me the whole race, nice job buddy. Zach and Z finished the marathon race in 2cd and third to Winkler, who is clearly riding on another level.
Looking forward to a couple more weeks of solid training before a nice block of racing in June, fishing and a Dead show in the end of June back in MA, my buddy Eddies wedding in Keystone in July and the BIG DAY in August! Case and I can't wait!
Case thought my arm was worth taking a picture of. We didn't have any Neosporin so we just smeared it with some cottage cheese.