The line for Kohl's entry
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
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.
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?