November 20, 2008

Hometown mud

After a disappointing race last weekend I wasn’t too motivated to race this weekend. My legs felt awful all week. It was like my body didn’t want me to ride bikes anymore and was dropping hints. I was considering following up on those hints but on Thursday the weather started calling for rain, lots of rain for the weekend.

It was time to ignore the hints and get excited for a muddy race. I started hoping for enough rain to go beyond just settling the dust, I wanted mud and puddles and guaranteed bike maintenance.

Friday was Halloween and as it got dark the precipitation started. Finally. Another thing besides mud that excites me when it rains is that it is finally quiet outside my window. I live in an area of Berkeley that can be very noisy between the hours of 1:45 and 2:15 am on Friday and Saturday nights. My place is quiet during the day but at those certain hours it is the expressway for drunks stumbling home from the bar. Once it started raining I knew I’d be in for a quiet night.

Saturday started off wet and only got wetter. I had a freshly glued Challenge Fango mud tire on one wheel and looked forward to trying the new tread pattern in inclement conditions. Unfortunately I was short two tubes of glue and didn’t get the rear tire glued in time. (Along those lines my gluing skills are really coming around, I no longer get gobs of glue on the sidewalls, tread, floor, cat and hands. Tubular glue is now relegated to just a little bit on a small section of sidewall.)

Tim and I left early, hydroplaned our way to Santa Rosa and got there early enough to score a really good parking spot. It was only raining lightly when I went out for recon. Squishy grass led to some puddles and mud which led to a plank bridge creek crossing (later I heard that someone went in the drink and had to be rescued by spectators), more thick mud and puddles and another bridge across the creek. The course hadn’t seen much traffic yet and so far looked good. Then it started dumping buckets and I realized that riding around in it was only making me cold. I had stupidly not brought along my rain pants, only a raincoat and some thin tights.

The race started, I don’t like starts and per usual ended up at the back. As soon as we hit the wide open muddy places I sloshed and slid past almost everyone. Going into lap two the mud and I agreed on everything and I was able to put a nice gap on all of the other ladies. It was really great mud, there were no hard things underneath to toss you off of your bike, it had decent traction and several puddles for self-cleaning.

The Fango worked great, there wasn’t one time that my front tire cut loose, it hooked up great on the slippery corners and didn’t pack up with mud. The last lap came disappointingly soon - we don’t often get this much rain early in the season and rarely do we get nice deep mud to ride. Tim hosed off both the bike and myself and I took off for the car to get out of my wet things before I got too cold. I didn’t bring quite enough dry things to wear or a big enough towel to remove all of the dirt, I did remember to bring plastic bags for the wet stuff so it didn’t ruin the inside of the car.

Next week a trip to So Cal.

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