Sleety Single Speed ride. The weatherman got it wrong today. It was supposed to be dry in the morning with rain moving in later in the day. Instead, we started with rain and a little sleet thrown in for good measure for the FOMBA Turkey Burner ride. It was 32F. I had prep'd my Racer X last night, but after checking the radar just before leaving the house this morning, I made a last minute bike swap. The Dean singlespeed was already dirty and is a lot easier to clean up. Plus it had good mud tires on it.
Detail of the FOMBA spaghetti singletrack network. Longest trail, Fireline, is 3+ miles in lower left corner
There may have been upwards of 200 people at the Massabesic Lake staging area by 9am. Mountain bikers are a pretty hardy group I must say. Most roadies I know would not go out in 32F rain and sleet. I was late, and the southern New Hampshire NEMBA contingent rolled out when I was still putting my shoes on. Didn't take long to catch them. Dave Penney and I bolted on ahead about 2-3 miles into the ride.
It really wasn't that muddy. Might have been some frost in the ground in a few places, which can help. But the intermittent drizzle kept things nice and greasy. I was very happy how well the Panaracer Fire XC Pro's hooked up in this stuff. I ran about 26 lbs rear, 22 lbs front. I was cleaning a lot more than I expected to, given FOMBA is one of the rootiest places I ride.
32F and rain/sleet mix to start
About half way into the "Hero Section," we ran into Thom P and his posse of riders. I almost didn't recognize him at first. He was on his big burly doubly suspended geared rig. There was something wrong with this picture. Mr Singlespeed with gears, Mr Hillclimb who often cannot get enough gears with a 1x1. Thom filed in behind me and Dave on Ladyslipper trail. Funny how the pace picks up when somebody you know is right on your heels. Paranoia of slowing someone else down can be a factor. Dave had time constraints, so we kept rolling on to Deer Run trail when Thom waited for his ride mates.
I hit the deck on Deer Run. Don't even know how it happen. One instant I'm hauling-A, the next I'm bouncing off the ground hard. Some cut off saplings nearly poked my eyes out too. I speculate a foot came unclipped. I was having recurring problems with this during the ride. The Sidi sole treads are badly worn, so the cleat interface is a little sloppy. I replaced the cleats and tightened the pedals recently, but this has not improved the problem.
Dave on Fireline
The last six trails went well. Carried good speed with no dabs. When we got back to the start, cars had filled the lot across the street. I'd guess at least 250 showed up to ride. Dave and I finished with 28.3 miles in 3:01hrs riding time. We never got cold.
I've done this ride at least the last seven years in a row now. I didn't keep a log before 2002. The number of singletrack trails has grown over that period too. The ride took 1 minute longer than last year, but I did Fox Tail trail twice last year in less greasy conditions. Slowest year was in 2005 with 3-4" of snow on the ground. That took 3:33hrs with less miles ridden. We never race this fun-ride, but I always hook up with one or more similarly minded folks that like to maintain a healthy pace.
Sun was coming out as we finished with nary a breeze. Go figure.
Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?