The weather forecast had been for rain initially on Saturday, but as the weekend approached, it was moved to Saturday night into Sunday morning. Lying in bed on Saturday night, I could hear the rain engulf the house. It sounded pretty bad. Upon getting ready for the race, the emergency alert on my phone went off:
This was going to be an interesting season opener! The drive itself was quite harrowing and included a couple of pond crossing where there used to be a road. One of them was quite a surprise on the highway, when all visibility disappeared for 3 seconds. It took everything I had to not touch the brakes.
Of course when I got there I found out that the race direction had been reversed. There wasn't much time for a warm up but I got to ride about 1 mile into the race course, and it was...well...very very wet. Over the tire deep water. That was just the first mile. The pictures below are of the actual race course and there isn't much more that needs to be said. In some sections the water was hub deep w/ no way of seeing the rocks and roots under it. It even got to the point where the water was high enough that the wooden bridges, meant to safely bring you over the wet areas, were now floating and moving as you rode over them.
The trail went through the red covered bridge pictured below which had standing water to just below the benches seating area. The water was so high that there was no way to see the trail leading to this. I ran through it as this seemed the prudent thing to do, but Tim H. was able to ride the whole thing.
The racing itself wasn't really going well for me as I was too tentative and not committed enough to riding the unseen under all that water. I was putting my foot down a lot and then needed to try to make up for it. I did know the course well enough to know where all the climbing was and to try to plan my efforts accordingly. However, about 2/3 of the way through, a new section I had never been on had been added. After a semi climb up a fire road, I was expecting a right turn down a quick descent and some recovery. Instead I found the trail continuing on to not only climb for a mile, but to climb up a trail which was now a real creek. I totally blew up on that climb, and just could not recover afterwards. My tentativeness increased after I attempted a creek crossing where my front wheel suddenly disappeared and I went over the bars, into the creek. I heard behind me the next rider have the exact same experience. The saving grace in all of this was that it was fairly warm so being soaked through was not unbearable. Tim weighted his wet clothes after the race and came up with 12 lbs. I ended up finishing 6th of 12, with a time of 1hour 3 mins. Not great, but since I am getting old, I'd rather be safer and slightly slower than miss the whole season because of aninjury. Tim did quite well and finished 3rd.