Chocolate pudding. Say it with me in your best Bill Cosby voice..."chocolate pudding". Now imagine riding around in it for an hour. Yep, that's a pretty accurate description of the trail conditions at this past Sunday's MTX #1.
Race promoter Kenny Palmer did a great job with laying out a course that was 99% ride-able and 100% fun, despite the icky conditions.
The format is simple: the slower you are, the more of a head start you get. Everyone races against everyone, just some of us have less time than others. Whoever gets the most laps wins. Simple, fun and fair.
I hadn't pinned on a number since last August when I dislocated my shoulder. I was fairly sure that I could hang, but was a bit worried about my technical skills. After all, my jello pudding experience was a little lacking. Luckily the start was about 200 yards of pavement. I hung out in about third position into the singletrack. I didn't want to lead. The course monster was out there and if I was first, he'd get me for sure. He lurks just below the surface of muddy trails and yanks racer's wheels out from under them. He strikes when you are pumping with adrenaline and trying to set a blistering pace is less-than-ideal conditions. I've seen it happen before first hand. I know he exists and I was scared. Scared and smart.
So I hung for a couple laps, then tried to turn it up a bit. I did OK for my fourth time on a mountain bike in six months. That being said, it was some things I did off the bike that had a greater effect on my riding this day. As you know from my last post, since you are all such faithful readers of this here blog, I changed several things on my bike the day before the race. A big no-no in the world of racing. I did it anyway. I thought I could buck the system; outsmart the MTB gods. I could adjust, check and re-check and it would all be OK. I was wrong.
You see, the day before a race is not the day to change things for one reason; you have no time to test ride and adjust what doesn't feel right...like tire pressure. I rolled out on brand spankin' new Maxxis Aspen rubber, aired up to a whopping 45 psi. I discovered that the optimum tire pressure for these new beauties was about 28psi when I was about 13 feet onto the slick trails. Ooooh, this was gonna be interesting.
I could have jumped off and let out a few pounds, but I figured I'd just go with it. By the last lap things were so greasy that I was spinning in place on the final climb and had to get off and run. Still, the Aspens performed excellently and I can't wait to try them on something a bit more earthy and less pudding-like.
I finished 7th out of 31. I'll take it. I felt strong and I didn't hurt myself, which is really saying something considering that two of the last 5 times I've been on a bicycle I've SERIOUSLY injured myself.
Let's just hope that I can continue the trend of keeping the shiny side up.