The race kicked off at 7:30 Saturday morning in a cloudy haze, this soon gave way to sunshine as the cloud cover broke up and the temperature rose. Heavy rains Friday afternoon, evening, and night made many sections of the course impassable leaving the organizers scrambling last minute to reroute the course. The remaining route still left riders dodging or in most cases blasting through puddles, bogs, streams, and endless mud. I had a heyday, giddy like a kid in this sloppy playground! Novices and experts alike were challenged to stay upright as wheels chattered down loose gravel and tires churned in the slip and slide conditions.
All of these hardships were well worth it and we were rewarded with beautiful scenery and good-natured comradery amongst the riders. I found everyone in high spirits despite the less than ideal conditions. The race support was superb as the Lifetime crew was well stocked with water, eager to refill bottles and hydration packs, as well a selection of fuel; bananas, Fig Newtons, energy bars, chews, goo, and even home made venison and maple syrup! The mechanical race support was phenomenal as Erik’s mechanics solved issues ranging from easy fixes like skipping derailleurs, rubbing brakes, and punctured tubes. They also encountered broken full suspension linkages and faulty Velcro on cycling shoes both of which required expert application of duct tape. I found myself stopping along the way to administer help to fellow cyclists with punctured tubes and broken chains.
Many participants lamented over the bugs (nothing a little spray won’t deter) but in the minds of all finishers the last 5 miles will forever be an unforgettable mountain bike defining experience. HILLS, MUD, MUD, and more MUD! My machine required liberal applications from my water bottle to keep the mud off and chain moving up and down the drivetrain. It creaked under stress and lack of lubricant, my body along with it. But I elated in the euphoric experience, something I am sure I will never be able to duplicate. I made sure to document this epic ride with photos, I’m sure they will tell the story better than I can describe.