Friday, November 27, 2009

Better than shopping at Kohl's

Black Friday to some is Turkey Burner day to others. FOMBA puts this great ride on each year. I've been doing it as long as I can remember. Seen every kind of weather and conditions too. It was 25F with rock hard frozen ground one year, at least two years with 2" or more of snow on the ground, near short sleeve weather another time, and a few times with rain or wet conditions. This year was the wettest. Give me any other conditions.  Low 40's and pouring rain is the worst.

The line for Kohl's entry

A few of us hoped to hook up early for the ride. Getting up at 7am, it seemed doubtful anybody would be stupid enough to go mountain biking in what I was looking at outside. I didn't relish the thought, but the night before I emphatically stated I would go if anybody else did. SteveG didn't back down. The weak in spirit shall go nameless. That meant I had to kit up after all.

Getting there a half hour after registration opened, there were less than 10 cars in the parking lot. Last year there were over a hundred by the same time. It was pouring, and it was not warm. I signed the waiver, and Jack Chapman quipped they added a couple hills to the course just for me. He'd also like to make a CX convert out of me. Some day... We didn't bother putting our number plates on. They would've soon disintegrated anyway. Besides, it's just a fun ride.

The line for Turkey Burner registration

Steve and I were first to roll out. There were no other tracks in the mud. The 27 mile course begins by looping around Massabesic Lake on fire roads. There was no point in avoiding the puddles. It was all puddles. I wore AmFib tights with DeMoulas baggies under neoprene booties. Up top, a base layer, a medium weight PI thermal layer and a waterproof vinyl rain shell. A heavy weight beanie and lobstah mitts finished the kit. It worked well.

We finished the fire road section and got to Auburn Center. Funny, the arrows didn't go the normal way for the "hero" singletrack section. We surmised that maybe Jack wasn't joking, they routed the course over one of the ledges along the lake. Well, the short beginner loop does just that, a section we usually don't hit. Before we knew it, we were heading back towards the cars. Backtracking began. A bit of road took us back to Auburn. Either hooligans removed some arrows or things were marked more tersely, particularly the sign that normally splits hero from beginner loop.

Steve on Fireline. Pefect day for a MTB ride, eh?

Back on track, the 3+ mile Fireline trail was first, one of the more technical. FOMBA is characterized by super twisty singletrack with non-stop roots and rocks. It can be challenging to clean when dry. Do it in steady rain, it is definitely expert material. I think Steve and I were getting more chuckles per mile than we ever have, laughing at our own or each other's bobbles. Long Trail was next, 2+ miles, and the most technical. I dabbed three times, which is quite good considering conditions. Woodpecker is the newest trail. It is the most buff, but today was the deepest (water) and greasiest. We pretty much race-paced the thing. I could not shake Steve off my tail. I thought surely one of us would have a rendezvous with a tree before this silliness ended. We survived, barely.

On Lady Slipper, a few guys below on the rail trail spotted us and took a short cut up to Lady Slipper. They looked pretty serious, so I ramped it up a notch. One of them passed Steve and was gaining on me. Funny how something like that pushes you into race mode. This trail is lots scarier at speed than Woodpecker. More rocks to break bones. I managed to hold the guy off until coming back to fire road. We waited for our riding buds. Turns out that the group of three were lost and were puzzled by lack of singletrack. Hmm, Steve and I hit about 8 miles already. They also missed the turn in Auburn and went all the way back to the cars. They weren't familiar with the area and didn't know any better. Fortunately, we were near the kiosk with an area map, so I got them situated with the start of the "hero" section.

Steve had taken a header on Lady Slipper. Stuff like that happens when you are getting tired and fast guys show up on your wheel. He decided to call it a day with over 2hrs riding time so far. I was still doing ok, not getting cold, and figured I might as well finish it while I'm out there. There were still seven named trails to finish. The pace until now had been quite brisk at times. I backed it down for the remainder of the ride, a comfortable tempo pace just enough to keep warm. I did not see another rider for the next hour, and it didn't look like any of the trails had been touched yet (except for Fox Tail, which the group of three found by accident). There was a brief lull in the rain, but it soon came back with a vengeance.

When I got back to the cars, none of the cars that were there when Steve and I rolled out were left. Only a handful of other cars were there, and half of them might have been dog walkers. Most years about 300 riders show up.  Doubt even 50 made it today.  It was not the suckfest I anticipated. Not only was it better than shopping at Kohl's, it was downright fun. I finished with 32.3 miles on the odometer in 3.4hrs riding time. The ride normally goes about 27 miles without missing the Auburn turn. I wonder what next year's 'Burner will bring?


CB2 said...

The only one who showed up for my Black Friday ride was a 72 year old. We did manage 26 miles (offroad) though.

Hill Junkie said...

Nice. I bet you're talking about the other CB of hillclimb and downhill fame.

CB2 said...

The one and only!
Now if only wifey could get home so I can get to today's ride.

Steve G. said...

Love that Kohls pic!

Worse part of the ride was getting out of wet clothes before getting into vehicle... There were a bunch of good parts to the ride. But two stand out most:
1: Every other MTb'r I know didn't show up.
2: Hot turkey soup and left over pies waiting at home.

I think I'm good for another year before you so called hard core MTB'rs give me crap for being 95% roadie.