I didn't treat this quirky event with much priority. I even slept well the night before, which proves I wasn't stressing over it despite it being my first cycling event of the season. I did stress over which bike to bring though. I had never ridden there before. Would it be rooty and rocky? Would it be a doubletrack speedfest? Any hills? I opted to bring my new Gary Fisher Superfly. I've heard the course favors roadies. We'll see about that...
I get there in time to pre-ride just the first segment of course for my warmup. It was about 30F out. Ice on mud puddles, frost on everything else. After riding in temps around 80F for four days last weekend, this was a real shock to the system. I found the start line and began this heinous descent. Much of the next mile I rode went downhill and had water flowing down it or across it. Oh, it was chocked full of table sized slabs of rock too, often at angles that weren't in the direction I wanted to go. A roadies dream? I was going to KILL myself on this stuff.
I started my warmup with 25/28psi in the front/rear tires. I found that wasn't going to do it. I stopped to reduce pressure to where I thought the tires would conform better to the greasiness. I still have cheep Hutchinson tubeless ready tires mounted. They have stiff sidewalls and do not possess the supple characteristic I like in tires. Later I would learn just how low I went.
My brake rotors disappeared into a couple of the water bogs. There was shit lurking in there too. What if I failed to take the same line at TT pace and hit something? I have an Italian trip coming up soon. I can't afford bone breakage. I didn't wear booties to warm up. Others did. Smart. My shoes filled with iceberg water. By the time I made it back to the starting line just before my roll-out, I couldn't feel anything below my ankles. What a way to start a TT.
The fastest guys like Alec Petro and Jonny Bold were the first to go starting with number 600. I was number 612, so that meant I was six minutes back since one went every 30 seconds. I did not know Kevin Hines was there, starting well behind me. He signed up late and was put further back in the queue.
I get my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO! and nearly biffed in the first greasy turn in front of everybody. I just wanted to get this over with in one piece. I cleaned the first mile during my warm-up, but do you think I could clean it when seconds count? Heck no! Very frustrating. About the time I reached the bottom of the gnarly stuff, I hear brakes squealing behind me. A few minutes in and my 30 second guy already is catching me? No, it was worse than that. It was my one minute guy, who I think was Arnold Roest. I started bumming, as how could anybody put a minute on me in the first mile of a seven mile TT? He passed me briefly, then we got to a short gravel climb and I promptly dropped him. Roadie power to the rescue. But the roadie friendly sections of the course were few and far in between today. Arnold and I traded places a few more times along the course.
Magenta is TT course, yellow warmup loop, red cooldown
The course pops out on pavement very briefly in two places. Both places, dismounts are required and you must enter the pavement on foot and then remount once on pavement. This is to control entry speed in case any traffic is coming. When I started riding on pavement and popped up to big ring (yeah, I imagine JB never left the big ring), I couldn't wind up my speed. My tires were so soft I felt like I was still riding in mud. In the quag, they were bottoming out on everything. I was constantly cringing. The tires did not cut through, and those Stan's rims never let out the most minuscule of burps. After the race, I measured my tire pressures. 22psi front, 19psi rear! That is just nuts. Nuts that I felt the need to go so low to stay upright, and nuts that I didn't have a pneumatic catastrophe.
Right near the start. Course is a stream.
Scavenged from DL Sports Photo
With a mile to go, Arnold was still right behind me, but then we hit a series of high speed (for Arnold) bridges with muddy root traps in between them. This stuff just weirds me out. I ran out of roadie power sections to keep him behind. Arnold was on a daulie though, which might have helped on the choppy stuff. I regretted not bringing my dualie. After a week on my dualie in Arizona, riding my 29er in this stuff was like I forgot how to ride. Arnold passed me for the last time. At least I gave him a good carrot to chase in a few spots. I figured I was anaerobically limited on maybe 25% of the course at most. The rest of the time I was skill limited and on the verge of soiling my chamois.
The finish appeared at last. I came hoping for sub-30 minutes. I barely broke 33 minutes. I thought surely the other times would be off too. They were. A little bit. Alec Petro was still there lamenting that he missed beating Jonny Bold by seconds. Then Kevin Hines came flying through on full after burners. WTF! He started six minutes behind me and finished not more than two minutes behind me. He handily took the overall, beating JB by at least a minute I believe. Kevin knows how to find traction. Comes from years of moto competition.
This is just all wrong. Hill Junkie doing a downhill TT?
Out of the expert field, I came in 14th overall. The registration max'd out at 150 riders. Too soon to say if 14th will hold overall. I was mostly hoping to get a quality 30 minute interval in, but given conditions, it didn't really go down that way. I can do Mt Ascutney in 28 minutes. I suspect some riders that beat me today would find Mt Ascutney really hard. It is hard in terms of hillclimbs, but I find it so much easier to bury myself on Ascutney than risk life and limb in a greasy TT like today. The tech factor is a great equalizer. Riders less fit but with high skill can rule a course like this. I'm bumping into the same kind of apprehension in technical ski racing too. I can hold my own on the climbs but get slaughtered on descents when they get scraped down to ice.
Part two of my day was to hit Arcadia Management Area on the way home. This huge preserve is chocked full of singletrack, some of it quite technical. I've only ridden here once before, about 10 years ago. The only thing I remembered was Mt Tom, the part south of Rt 165. It was a mile or so of slickrock ridge riding. I wanted to be sure to hit that, but for the rest of it, I was going to wing it. I did pull some GPS tracks from the web, but they didn't tell me what type of riding each trail was.
Arcadia GPS Track
Arcadia was no better than Burlingame in terms of water. It was flowing down everywhere. I did eventually find some good singletrack that was dry, but most of the doubletracks were just a mess. I didn't want to get my feet wet again, but that was a hopeless cause.
Arcadia. I had hoped to avoid this after the TT.
I rode mostly on the north side, but crossed over Rt 165 on Mt Tom Trail to ride the ridge. It was scarier than I remember it. Again, I was thinking Italian trip. No breaky bony. At one point I hear voices, see two ropes tied to trees and then drop over the edge. Must have been 60ft straight down at that point. A young couple was repelling below.
Dry, but all rocks. This is Rock Trail.
When I got back to the lot, I saw Colin Reuter and crew loading bikes up. Guess they had the same idea after the TT, although they actually rode with somebody that knew where the good stuff was, something Colin said I would not have been interested in because it was "technical." Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps DaveP had the right idea this weekend by logging major road miles Saturday and Sunday. With three more days of heavy rain coming up this week, I think next weekend will be a roadie weekend for me. Overall, my weekend was pretty good. An hour off-road Saturday and another four hours today add up. Need to focus more on the short intensity side of things though. My riding hasn't entailed much of that the last couple weeks. I think the highlight of my weekend was picking up a Clover machine cup of Kona from Starbucks on the way home today.
This is more like it! Mt Tom ridgeline.
More Mt Tom
Mt Tom near the repellers
Coming down Mt Tom on southern end