Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mud, Sweat, and No Gears

Short Version:
Worst race ever... I can't say I've ever experienced such misery.

Long Version:
After a week of non-stop rain, Elizabeth and I arrived in Fayetteville to a dry field, and set up our gear in hopes that it would stay that way. After all the normal prep of getting bikes, bottles, and lights all set up, I dropped my bike off for the le mans start. As the director said we had 10 minutes til the start, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. Muddy clay was spraying everywhere as I was going through the field. After hitting the singletrack, I immediately regretted my choice of dry condition tires, as I was spinning out on everything and sliding around. The ACXs wouold have been a better choice, but only for a little while. The rain kept coming down, and the mud spraying up made for some interesting descents after it shot up into my eyes.

The first lap, although horribly bad by most standards, went by pretty quickly, and I rolled into the pit to switch water bottles and get some new glasses. Going through the field was a little slicker, but the first singletrack sections felt the same. I hiked it up the first 2 bigger climbs, and headed down a longer descent that was 4 inch deep slop. I managed to slide out, come unclipped, and somersault down the hill. After collecting my belongings, I headed up the next little roller and started back into the singletrack. At this point I didn't realize that I wouldn't be riding my bike anymore for the race.

I pushed up a bit of the slicker sections, and the wheels began to collect mud and start to clog up. Within 15 or 20 ft, the wheels were so full of mud, that neither wheel would spin, and I had to stop and pull handfuls of mud off to clear it out. I started pushing again, and the wheels stopped again 20 ft later. I tried to pick up my bike, but it was way too heavy. I'm guessing it weighed somewhere in the 80-100 lb range with all the mud. It was amazing to be trying to push the bike downhill, and both wheels would clog up so bad that it would stop. Pushing uphill was much worse, as you had the same problem, but you were trying to push it uphill with about as much traction as you would expect to have standing in 4 inches of sticky and slick mud.

Elizabeth's bike shows the conditions pretty well...

I wasted almost 3 hours trying to push, carry, and drag my bike around the course, but only made it roughly 5 or 6 miles into the second lap. I finally found a cut out back off the course, and gladly took it back to the field to clean my bike and drink beer. What an amazing waste of time and effort to go try and race this thing. This race has been an awesome event the last 2 years, but I will never ever go back if there is a chance of rain... a shame.

As Ed said, "that was the stupidist thing I've ever done in my entire life."


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