Let's start this Monday with a newsflash from the mailbag, because this is just in from parts northward: Racing in the snow is hard.
Per SSramsay, the analysis of how SnotCycle went down.
Well, I was totally off in my predictions. I figured on balmy 40+ degree temps and slop with occasional snow patches. Nope. We got to Leesburg plenty early at 7:30ish as we watched the temps drop on the drive up, and the temps bottomed out around 12. As we got in the outskirts of NOVA, we noticed that there was snow and lots of it. No bare patches, just snow. Somehow we got in the field after spinning wheels in foot-deep snow to make it off the driveway, and there were tractors trying to clear spots for folks to park. It was interesting to see people park their bikes by just plunking them down into the crusty snow, and I should have known then that it wouldn't be an easy day.
As usual, the races got off to delayed starts as the collective waited for folks to get cars unstuck, layer up, and roll to the start line on the icy packed-snow driveway. That farm path/driveway served as the lead-out for the races, so folks got to test their snow legs for about .1 miles, and then the trail headed off into fields at what would typically be easy climbing or flat-out big-ring hammering, but not today--it was hike-a-bike into the woods for the next 5 miles before finally getting underneath the mature pines that shielded the trail enough to only have a couple inches of snow, which allowed for actual riding. Other than that, you could maybe roll a few feet downhill until your front wheel dug into crusty deep snow and plowed to a halt no matter how much wattage you were producing. The beginners had it worst since they were literally the pathmakers. Ellen started in a group of a dozen women and returned to the truck about an hour later. I kept watching for riders to stream past the start/finish, but didn't see anything. Hmm, that's odd. When Ellen returned, I asked how her lap was, and her reply was, well, not so good since she only went about 1.5 miles and bailed when the course hit the farm road. Not a good sign, and the day was still cold and all that snow was not going anywhere. I lined up with Carl and Jay in a big expert field of 61 riders, and we rolled out with a mercifully mellow start, and then promptly did the hike-a-bike thing on grades that we'd typically be in the big ring. My plan was to finesse the course as best I could, but it took too much effort to ride, so I trotted but didn't run; the front-runners were literally doing that--shouldering bikes and running. Temperature-wise, the snow was starting to soften a bit as noontime dawned, but the snow didn't really disappear so much as just get moved aside. After hundreds of bike wheels and racing cleats mashed the snow down, it started to get rideable into the second lap, and I was glad I didn't bail after suffering through a rough first lap. I shedded my partially dislodged booties, fogged sunglasses, but wisely kept my layers. I was soaked from the sweat generated by my first-lap effort, and it felt good to actually be able to ride most of the second lap. I finished, not sure how many in my field bailed. Postscript and hindsight analysis: I ended up 22nd of 44 finishers, and that's a better placing than last year's slip-and-slide fest. Carl was a couple spots ahead of me, and Jay had a fast first lap but called it a day after putting in tough efforts with lots of running. Jenny Whedbee finished her two laps with a tough effort. Yep, all races were reduced by a lap, and if it were possible there should have been a way to shorten the beginner racers' single lap. Ellen, as I noted, pulled out for her first DNF, but gets points for professional preparation for an unrideable race. Kevin had the best conditions of the day and blazed a sub-hour lap to score second in single-speed.
So yeah, I feel a summary is in order: that's a 3 hour drive to a poorly marked course that was shortened by 50% due to unrideable snow drifts in 15 degree weather. That sounds super. I do give a discerning nod of approval, however, to the folks that showed up and raced, and to the organizers who shrugged off nature's suggestions in favor of a good rally. It's good to see the crew getting it done, and our hardman singlespeeder Kev29er seems to have gotten the job done in a big way. Although I waffled, I'm glad I stuck to my guns for a change and went skiing.
Which leads me to another newsflash:
Pennsylvania kicks ass.
Moving on, I know you've been hanging on by a thread to learn what the next chapter of the Silky Big Boy 2000 saga will reveal. Well, it turns out that Sherrill Tree had to back-order replacement saw blades for Ms. Silky. From Japan. So she was abroad for a while, finding herself - a little bit like Eat, Pray, Love, if you ask me. Except that instead of finding a good man abroad, and in a remarkable show of poor judgment, she has returned home to her abusive first lover (me) who has promised to not swing her around like a lightsaber as much as he used to.
Because that's what love really is, kids.
You know what else is love? I've got a streak of 4 night rides in 8 days going. I do love the dark. So let's crank it up this week a time or two? Like the cellulite in my post-holiday thighs, these batteries aren't going to drain themselves.
To wrap this up, you can check out the next public release of my wife's badass photography in the pages of XXC Magazine this month, along with some of my thoughts you've already mulled over and dismissed as malarkey. Check it out for free online, or buy it and support our man Jason Mahokey in his quest to have a real publication devoted to epic rallying instead of the sort of twice-a-week bikesmut you can find here.
Someone hit me back and let me know when and where I can night ride in the company of others. And until next time; tread lightly, and carry a big saw.