Yesterday I made it out to Heritage Park near Athens for the first race of the Dirty Spokes 6 and 12 hour series. I had not even considered doing this race until Thursday night, so my expectations were pretty low. I was starting to feel better after getting so sick at the third Snake Creek Gap Time Trial last week and thought a laid-back 6-hour race would be a little redemption for that. I needed a long ride this weekend anyway, so why not race it!
The weather was looking pretty iffy, with accuweather claiming the whole of north Georgia would be soaking in rain with highs around 50. I generally don't mind riding in bad weather, especially in the woods, so I wasn't too worried. I just put the mud tires on the bike and packed mudflaps and raingear. When I woke up for a minute at midnight it still hadn't started raining. I was convinced that the race would be dry after all and I would have to change tires back again before racing. Sometime in the night it did rain, though never in the promised buckets. The trails were slightly muddy, but without the deep peanut-butter mud I've encountered all-too-recently (Southern Cross, I'm looking at you!). And we only got rained on a little bit while riding.
I had never ridden the trails at Heritage Park before the first 9.5 mile lap, and found it had lots of crisscrossing roots which were interesting when wet. There is not much in the way of climbing anywhere on the course, just a lot of twisty-turny sections. In other words, not a course that plays to my strengths. Since I was still a bit sick and not well-prepared, I was going into the race with the attitude that as long as I managed to finish the race without hurting myself or breaking anything on my bike I was satisfied.
Mission accomplished: it was a good day on the bike. I felt pretty strong the whole way, though my lungs were still a bit stuffed up from last week's respiratory infection. The trail is fun to ride laps on, with little technical spots where your lines get better with each successive lap. I ended with 4 laps and just missed getting a fifth. The winning women all got 5 laps, and four laps put me right in the middle. Unfortunately my timing chip didn't register my last completed lap, so the official online results right now make me look like a total slacker. I emailed them about the error but it might be too late to fix it now. I didn't go check the results in person because I knew I hadn't made the podium-- now I wish I had checked!
Late Edit: Vindication! Dirty Spokes added my fourth lap to the official online results after double checking. This means I ended up in 7th place in my category... I'll take it! (Though they still have my age listed as four years older than I actually am!)