Sunday, October 29, 2006

Month of Mud - 7 Springs final race

Final Month of Mud race - Seven Springs - snow covered trails, turning to slush and mud -1:33.58 11th place beginner - 4th place beginner in overall series ;)

Almost didn't go to this race. The day before it snowed at home. Though it melted, I knew that at 7 Springs, with its altitude, the snow wouldn't have melted. After much interal discussion, I realized I didn't really have a good reason not to go.

The entire drive up there was no snow, not until I was about 2 miles from the resort. I looked up and saw the snow-covered slopes, ah well. I pulled into the parking lot, and got out of the car to temerpatures in the 30s and strong winds.

Joe pulled in shortly afterward, and we went out for a warm-up ride. Unfortunately the temperature had risen to abou 34 degrees, just enough for all of the snow to start melting - creating a slushy, muddy mess. But at least the winds were strong.

Mike and Terri pulled in. They had come to watch and cheer us on. And they had their cameras!

We lined up for the race, and off we went. The start was a little different than last year's. The course started up a climb, which helped spread us out, and then into the woods. As usual, the sprint off the line is not my strength, and I found myself bringing up the rear.

The trail took some single track that wound its way through the woods at the top of the mountain. It was muddy, but somewhat firm underneath. In a couple of miles, I caught the first couple of riders. Their tires were not designed for the mud, which was to my advantage. I passed some people, and they passed me.

About half way through the first lap, I realized I was doing much better than the year before. I was able to ride sections I had to walk the previous year. I then entered the rock garden section. My bike handled this section really well, and I cleared both major rock gardens, passing several people.

As the first lap was nearing its end, it heads uphill back to the parking lot. I was thinkning to myself that I would never be able to do a second lap. The mud, wet, cold, and strong wind was really starting to take its toll. As I got near the end of the first lap, Mike and Terri were there cheering me on; it was a good motivator. But then I had to ride past my car. Oh, how I wanted to just stop and get a hot coffee.

But I continued on to the second and final lap. After the initial climb, I came out on the flats and saw a rider ahead of me. I entered the downhill section and just completely let the bike fly. As the hill leveled out and re-entered the woods, I passed the slower rider. It seemed to surprise him that he got passed. I kept in front of him for about a mile, but I could see he was determined to catch me. About a 100 yards later he did. The trail headed uphill through a bunch of rocks and mud, and he gave it everything he had to pass me. I had to jump off the bike and run it up the hill. But unfortunately for him, he used up all his energy. In less than half a mile I caught him again, and this time I passed him for good. I could see by the look on his face that he was done.

As I exited the woods and took the trail around a small pond, I was almost blow in to the water by the strong winds. I had to literally lean sideway in the wind so that I could pedal. The rest of the lap went fairly smoothly. The mud had taken all energy out of my legs. I passed a couple people, some passed me.

I finished, and was really glad there wasn't a third lap. Got cleaned up and went into the lodge for the award presentations as this was the last race of the series. Joe got second place in sport class, and got lots of great swag: helmet, camelback, tires, and lots of other stuff. First place in juniors won a bike! Then they announced the overall series winners for beginners.

"In fourth place, mostly because he rode enough races, and with no prizes, is..." Yep, I won fourth place overall. Not because I finished very well in any of the series, but because I was one of only four people in my division that raced at least four races. So even though my total points were lower than a lot of others, I still claimed fourth place. When retelling this story, I don't mention all of those details, lol.

Well, this concluded another Month of Mud series. As always, the races are fun, very well organized, and a very relaxed but competitive atmosphere. I can't wait for next year! And by then I'll be in the old man's division. Less people to lose too ;)

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