Dateline- May 3rd 2009, Location- Douthat State Park, Event- Middle Mountain Momma XXC, Forcast- Showers and T-storms. This was my first mountain bike race of the year. 40 miles of beautiful trails at Douthat. The T-storms never arrived, but the showers turned into heavy steady rain. The XXC race was delayed for an hour while the park authorities decided if they would even allow a race with the rain and rising waters. In the end, the XXC was on but the 20 mile races were cancelled.
Even with the rain, there were more than 40 people in the race. The start is a 4-5 mile climb, that really spreads out the riders. This is followed by a long steady downhill to a fire road. This is where I realized that I had made a huge mistake. I had set my bike up to be as light as possible, which means that I was using the tubeless wheels with V-brakes. When rain was in the forcast, I should have switched to disc brakes. After the first downhill, the dirt, mud, and gritty grime had destroyed my brakes. By the time I was heading back down to the park, about 30 miles in, I had adjusted the the brake as much as I could and could pull the levers until they bottomed out against the handlebar and still could not stop. Finally I had to stop, get out the tools, and tighten the cable at the brakes. Now all I had was the plastic of the brake pad frame running against the wheel, but I could at least slow down when I needed to.
The only thing worse than the pouring rain and mud being slung in my eyes and all over me, was the soft sticky mud on the double track. It was very difficult for single speeders. Only the geared bikes, in granny gear, could ride through this stuff. It was a soul crusher. I felt like it would never end. On the last mountain, I got a second wind and probably made up some time.
In the end, it was still a good day. Allen placed 11th and I think I may have been around 15th. We cut an hour and a half off last years time, even with the conditions. I could have had a better time if I had used disc brakes and I had some chain issues, but overall I was happy with my performance. The rain continued all day and as soon as people finished, there were told to move there cars because the bridge going to the start/finish area was about to be covered by water.
Now it's time to get ready for the Fat Tire Frenzy in Bedford on May 16th, The Central Va Bike Festival century on May 17th, and the 24 hour Burn on May 23rd and 24th.