Last Sunday (Feb. 26), Mike and I headed out to ride the Montgomery County Epic loop in a counter-clockwise direction. With the very warm winter, some rain early in the week, followed by strong winds, the trails were in perfect condition - something I like to call "hero dirt" - where every time you should crash from pushing it hard into the corners, the slightly tacky dirt would keep you upright and moving fast.
We rode about 50 miles in almost 50 degree weather and traded off 15 minute pulls to keep the pace high. Compared to the same ride in mid-December, we knocked nearly 45 minutes off our loop time.
This week, the skulls on the Seneca Ridge Trail were dressed in mariachi hats (compared to the Santa hats in December). Maybe they were dressed for Mardi Gras?
We headed north and our dreaded river crossing wasn't too bad this week with lower water levels and warmer temperatures.
Luckily, the halfway point water fountain in Germantown was still turned on and we filled our bottles.
We saw tons of hikers, horses and a number of other riders (who we figured were riding the MoCo Epic loop in the clockwise direction). Everyone was out enjoying the sun.
With about 3 miles left in the ride, Mike took a soft right turn while landing from a small rise in the trail and his front wheel folded. It was an 8 year old Salsa rim that he's been using for training. It was impressive the rim lasted that long, but the crash was pretty ugly, with Mike taking a full front flip into the woods. With the huge Continental Mountain King 2.4 tires, Mike's wheel wouldn't roll through the fork.
Even beating on the rim failed to straighten it out.
So, seeing that the rim and spokes were a loss, Mike rolled home on a bare rim. It was pretty awesome to see him riding through rock gardens, rivers, roots and singletrack and not much slower than our prior tempo pace.
Thankfully, Stan's No Tubes is continuing as our sponsor this year, and Mike will be riding on a set of ZTR Crest wheels that are arriving today. After racing a full season on a set of Crest wheels, I love these wheels!
I think we might get in one more long ride on the weekend before the season starts in force in two weeks with the Shootout On Angler's Ridge in Danville, VA. This was a very fun race last spring to start the season and worth the drive.