Battle of the (un)Bear(able) Mud

When I packed my bag Thursday night, I felt like I was forgetting something. Couldn't place it, so didn't worry. I'd checked the weather forecast for Battle the Bear 60 mile race pretty regularly - and at that time, it was for mostly sunny, highs low 60s and a chance of rain in the afternoon. Having had mud experiences where I've pushed and carried my bike off the trails in Beak Creek Lake Park, I kept my fingers crossed that is would stay nice.

Thunderstorms greeted us at Chatfield Res last night. Off and on sprinkles cooled the air. Then I checked the forecast again - that mostly sunny had changed to mostly cloudy, with a high of 60 and 70% chance of rain. At 3:00 am, I woke up to thunder and a downpour. And it kept raining. And kept raining. At 5:30, when my alarm went off, it was still raining. With the race still on at that point, we prepared as best we could and headed to the race venue. And it was still sprinkling on and off as we were driving.

Got to BCLP and Nick asked Thane if the course was clear. He was in the process of sending a scout out to double check trail conditions. So we continued setting up, tent, cooler, etc.. Then back to the camper to change. And I found out what I forgot. All my warm clothes! I had knee warmers, a best and my Gore Jacket. No wool socks, no booties, no head band, warm jersey or warm gloves. Uh uh - 40 degrees, windy and raining and I had nothing worth riding in! I borrowed Nicks spare wool socks and bundled up as best I could. About ten minutes before start, I gave Nick the gore jacket. Then a bolt of thunder and it started raining again. With three minutes to start, I hustled back over and got the jacket back. It might be a race, but I wasn't gonna freeze my ass off!

The start greeted us with wind and rain. I jumped out to an early lead on the first little climb. Then we hit the trails - wet, kinda tacky, but with enough mud to start clinging to everything. First climb was okay - the leaders for the SS men were catching me since the start gap was only a minute. Then the rain started. The tacky trails deteriorated even more to a river of water keeping the mud away. At the base of the second hill, I saw about 6 of the pro men riding down, then bailing towards the road. We were only 10 minutes into the race. I hit the climb and found out why as my tires lost all traction - slipping underneath me. Despite my best attempts, I wasn't able to keep the bike rolling and was off and pushing. And watching my tired swelling with the mud. I was able to ride at the top of the hill and the stream of water in the middle of the trail thankfully cleaned off most of the mud. At least from my wheels. My drive train was another story! The corners were all slippery and nasty with the mud and slime pulling the bike in every direction besides the one I wanted! I was not riding very fast at that point - had quickly abandoned my plan and gone into survival mode. I was gonna ride until someone told me to stop or I had finished 6 laps. A slow climb and descent from Mount Carbon, then into some semidry sand. A relief to be able to pedal without the rear wheel slipping!

At the road crossing, a park ranger was standing in the middle of the traill. "race has been called - take the road back..." Mixed emotions - it was cold, wet, and just plain miserable out. My bike was coated in peanut butter like mud and I was soaked to the bone. Happy to not have to ride another five laps in that, but also annoyed. I knew when I started that was what would happen - soaked, disgusting bike and slimy trails. I felt really strongly that we shouldn't have even started. With the amount of overnight rain and the looming clouds, trail conditions were questionable. Add in the rain as we started and it became unrideable. As of now, it's a wait and see until 5:00 tonight to see if the race is rescheduled for tomorrow. I have to admit to hoping its just canceled. I don't really want to try again and put both my bike and the clay trails through that again.


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