I love mud. Riding in mud seems to bring out the kid in me. But racing in mud is a whole other ballgame. Sunday was about thunderstorms, rain, and more rain. All day rain was moving east across the state and so I knew what we were getting in Eau Claire was eventually going to hit Iola. But being the first race of the season I figured I had to get out and race. Besides Iola was all sand, right?
I arrived at Iola Winter Sports Area only to be greeted with a parking lot full of mud and cars stuck in mud. After some brief delays to the Citizen and Sport races, I warmed up and toed the line for the first WORS race of the 2012 season. GOOOOOO echoed through the pines and we are off. I momentarily forgot how hectic and crazy the WORS starts are and before I knew it we were climbing up the back side of the ski jump hill and descending down into a bowl full of mud and wet grass.
It didn’t take long for the mud to take its toll on the bikes. Mid way through the first lap I had a major case of chain suck and had to pull off and finagle my chain out. By then my race turned into chase mode and then into survival mode. I was never able to “settle in.” Dismount, run, slide, ride, ride and slide, dismount some more, and ride a little bit more. No one seemed to pass anyone and everyone found themselves in a “war of attrition.”
By lap three I had major chain skipping and was down to one gear. I thought for a moment to bail on the race just to save my bike, but the thought only lasted for a moment. After the final stretch of gnarly, slippery, greasy single track section, I rolled across feeling beat up from fight rather than beaten down by a race.
It was still a great day of racing because one got to hang with fellow races that you haven’t seen since last fall. But in the end I’m left wondering just exactly where I am at so far. I had glimpses of strong riding but the mud took its toll and left me wondering. Time to train some more and wait for the Cable Off Road in a week and a half.