I haven't missed the FOMBA Turkey Burner for at least as long as I've been keeping a cycling log, since 2002. Today I've come the closest ever to bailing, seeing nothing but pink and dark green on the radar maps when I got up. The night before, Steve G and I decided to wait until 8am on whether to pull the plug on the T-burner this year. The forecast was not good. 8am rolls by, nothing from Steve. Finally I send out a feeler email. No way was I going to bail first. I think he was waiting for me to bail, and I was waiting for him to bail. Funny how that works. Of course, neither of us bailed. I sensed another dose of character building was going to be administered while driving up the Everett Turnpike. It was 32F, raining, and the pine trees were caked with ice.
There were actually more than 2-3 cars at Massabesic Lake. Last year it was 10F warmer, pouring rain and fewer cars than today. We did score a small break in the rain while registering and kitting up. It always sucks more to actually start out when it is raining. I went back through my log to see how prior years compared. Here's what I found:
2002 3" snow, hooked up with Phil Keyes
2003 40F, drizzle changing to downpour
2004 30F & Windy. Scott N broke Elbow on ice under leaves.
2005 17F & 4" of snow
2006 50F, greasy trails
2007 33F, greasy trails
2008 32F & sleet
2009 44F & pouring rain
2010 33F & freezing rain
So out of the last nine years, there were only three decent years where it wasn't raining or no snow on the ground. This year it had rained all night, so there was plenty of standing water. There was no point in even avoiding it on the double track sections. We scooped up Joe Reagan at the start, so we had a nice three man posse heading into the woods.
Seems riding with Steve this year has gone no where good for me. Ankle fracture in May, then on the x-ray table again a couple weeks ago. I've very nearly recovered from the most recent injury. That meant I was due for another mishap. What better way to maximize the probability than riding on slimy roots and rocks for three hours? I put a governor on speed but wasn't afraid to burn matches every now and then on short climbs. The Fireline trail seemed to take an eternity. Nearly cleaned it though. I was riding quite well as long as I focused on technique and not speed.
After a speedy romp through Woodpecker, Long Trail was next. It used to be the longest trail until fireline was extended to over three miles. Long trail offers the most opportunities for bad things to happen. I managed to not hit the deck and escaped with just two dabs. Another group was kind of loosely hanging with us the last 30 minutes or so. Some were frigid. Joe seemed just a little too eager to show them the direct way back to the cars. We still had eight more singletrack loops to hit. Now it was just Steve and I.
Lots of close calls over the next several trails. We passed another group of two, then there were no more tracks in the mud. We were on the vanguard. Or whacked. Everybody else might have wizened up and bailed. Steve could no longer feel his brakes or shifters. I wore lobstah mitts and was still doing ok. We both had baggies and neoprene booties on our feet. My feet stayed dry for the whole ride. I could squeeze water out of my mitts though. Everything else was saturated too.
Steve set a pretty hard pace starting out, so I was not going to let him bail early (like last year). He was going to finish the whole ride this time. He bonked pretty spectacularly on Fisher Cat. A Power Bar brought him back to life for the last couple loops.
We finished 28.1 miles in 3:05 riding time. There might have been only 2 or 4 biker cars left in the parking lot when we got back. It figured the sun was poking through just as we finished the ride. Well worth heading out. The Turkey Burner streak holds for another year.