July 10, 2010
Conditions: Wet, muddy, slippery
In attendance: Jeff Dickey
Even though it was the day before last weekend's Summer Sizzler, I couldn't pass up the local Hotcycle race held in Leesburg, VA that was less than 1 hour from my house. I entered the race with some trepidation, as this was the same course that had left me laid up for 1.5 months earlier this year with a massive hematoma, broken blood vessels and the inabilty to walk, let alone ride for several weeks. And, this time around, Virginia had just gotten its first rain in a few weeks, leaving the trails with a quarter inch slick of mud over hardpack. But, it's hard to turn down going to a good local race.
The course is about 75% singletrack and is purpose built on the race organizer's family farm. It's only available for riding on race day or designated pre-rides with the organizer as it's an active cow farm (and you wouldn't want to wander into one of the fields that hold their large bulls). I lined up with 20-25 other guys in steamy weather. It had just finished raining hard and the temperature was beginning to climb - humidity must have been 100%.
From the start, guys were having difficulty controlling their bikes in the mud. I hadn't had much time for a warmup (and having done a local road "race" on Tuesday night in 102 degree temperatures and a mountain bike Wednesday night in 104 degree temperatures, I was still a little tired out), so I planned to take the first 8 mile lap fairly easy, get warmed up, and go from there.
I entered the singletrack in 7th or so position and had to slow down for the riders infront of me who were slipping and sliding everywhere. Eventually, we sorted outselves out and by the end of the first lap, I was riding in a three person group with local pro Matt Bailey and Plum Grove (the team that was hosting the race) rider Stu Staton and we were chasing one rider who had gotten a lead while the three of us were gingerly riding through the mud and getting warmed up.
I'd been getting more and more confident in the slippery terrain (I used to race these kind of conditions all the time back in New Hampshire growing up) and when we got within 10 seconds of the leader, I slid out on a corner and kept sliding across the slippery mud, eventually ending up in a ravine. It took a bit to climb back out and to the trail and by that time the leaders were gone.
This race was all about drafting in some of the wide-open cow pastures and without the draft, I lost a bit of time to eventually finish 4th. Results are here.