I'm not a fan of the cold. Ask anyone. Scott George knows this the best. He's seen me get blue lipped on the way down Mt. Mitchell in July wearing a vest and arm warmers. So the thought of doing a 6 hour duo in the rain when the temperature is in the 50s is not something I go for naturally and how I ended up doing just that is really more a function of terrible spring weather and stubbornness to get the season going with some fun. Everyone around here is itching to get on with spring and some racing.
Elsa and I had decided to team up weeks earlier when the weather was nice. I'm sure she would have been content with skipping it had we given it some serious thought, but how bad could it get, right? The forecast early in the week showed 61 and 40% chance of rain. No problem. Then it went to high 50s by mid week. Still, I can hang, that's not bad. By Friday, I knew we were gonna be in for a mess. A forecast of low 50s and 70% chance of rain meant that I brought every winter and wet weather item I had. I even brought WAY too many pairs of socks (learned the hard way at Burn 24 one year). I had a small thought that maybe it would be even worse but put it right out of my head as we sped down I-77 Friday night. It was worse and the hotel didn't help. I'll just say this: NEVER stay at the Radisson there unless you like someone else's pubic hair on your toilet, sludge back up stains in your sink and your room to smell like an ashtray even though it's a non smoking hotel. WTF over.
We woke Saturday morning to decent temperatures (55ish) and fairly clear skies (and by fairly clear I mean think I saw some blue). Getting there was a bit of a challenge. It was tucked away well and as we pulled into a small open area under tall trees at the back of a naval base the whole thing felt a little sketchy, like an illegal form of bike racing or a cockfight. But all that disappeared once we saw some some familiar faces and began setting up. Scott and Sherry were there as Scott was up for solo male as was Mike Schafer. When it was time to change it was a comfortable 50-something and some clouds. Base layer and arm warmers for me.
Elsa said she'd rather not take the first lap so it was left to me. It started out really fast as some of the local boys hit it from the gun. I was really comfortable for the for 10min or so matching them until the roots and corners started getting in my way. I hadn't ridden there before and it showed. I was riding with Adam Carmical and could tell he knew all the lines. I tried to just follow but things were coming so fast I didn't have time to react. I was off the trail quite a lot and making a bit of a mess of it so I backed it down a little. Guess I was really feeling the months of low speed, endurance lolly gagging type riding I'd been doing all winter. But it was all good; finally time to get some good hard riding in. I finished the lap just out of sight of him and right away went out for another since they were only 8ish miles and I cleared it just a few second over 30min. 16mph = fast course! It was still dry.
It was still dry when I finished my second and Elsa went out. I grabbed some food, a drink and hung out a bit talking with Sherry. Maybe it won't be that bad today, I thought. Then I heard it. Rain drops. They started slow and then bagan to build. By the time Elsa came in it was a good light rain. 15 min later it was full on raining and the temperature had dropped significantly. The plan was for Elsa and I to take very long pulls if the weather got bad, therefore eliminating warmup problems, chills and the like. I put on a vest, raincoat and hat expecting to complete the rest of my laps for the day all at once. When she came back in she was muddy, cold and looked miserable. I took off telling her I was out for 4 laps unless the times got really slow.
|45 and a solid rain = a great story.|
The first puddle wasn't too bad. The second was. ICE COLD water hit my feet and ass as the trail was sopping and NO water was draining from it. It was an ice shower for sure. My hands and feet immediately got really cold but my core was alright and I knew that was the big thing. I hit it hard trying to keep my body generating heat and by the middle of that lap I was toasty, well, my core was at least. The trail was getting slick and roots muddy but it was all not too bad. The second lap was worse all around. Colder, wetter, muddier, more slippery and the toasty core I had was starting to diminish. By the third lap in the set (my 5th lap) the course was a mess and I was cold, really cold. Hands and feet were numb and I started to lessen my shifting and drinking because of it. Man, I'm just happy all I had to do for fueling was drink my bottle of Infinit. I've never been happier to not mess with gels or bars or any of that crap!
My laps times were getting near 40min by now and we had just under 2 hours to race when I neared the end of the lap and could see the pit. I slowed and yelled for Elsa to get ready and headed out for the last 10min of the lap. She did not sound enthused. I finished it hard and rode in telling her she only had time for two laps. We then found out that the other duo teams had quit so we didn't have to continue. She was super happy to find out she did not have to go back out, but boy that girl was ready to fight til the end!
Scott and Schafer didn't fair as well (neither did some of the other racers). Those two had started the race with just shorts and jerseys on and didn't add anything once the weather got really bad. They both looked like they getting hypothermia and called it a day about 4 hours into it. Can't say I blame them. I wouldn't have made it one lap in the rain dressed like that!
|Joel Watson took the men's solo category.|
|Adam Carmical and Rob Corbett took the duo men's top spot. Fast boys down there!|
|Tripp Patterson + Beer.|
In all it was a great day. Nice trail, great people and terrible weather giving us all a great story. I think I'll be back next year. Thanks guys!
And as always thanks a ton to all our support: TotalCyclist, Kane Training, Bicycle Sport (bikes were great!), Infinit Nutrition, ESI Grips, Carolina Realty Advisers, Meg-Art Pottery, and OTR!
Next stop 6 Hours of Warrior Creek! Should be a great one...