Sunday, January 10, 2010

Southern No Cross

It really is too early in 2010 to race. Even if lonely and restless mountain bike racers all over the southeast want to race anyway, the weather has derailed any true racey happiness.

On January 2 the Snake Creek Gap time trial happened without me. I'd spun around for a couple windy and cold trail miles the day before, then decided to not race. An unplanned dismount in Arizona a few days earlier had left me with some deep bruises and meant technical riding and steep climbs were hurting a lot in the cold. Waiting around in bike clothes for 20-30 minutes in the subfreezing cold, then a TT start without a warmup, then a 4-plus hour hammer... it didn't sound good for the achy bones. From photos and stories, I was really glad I hadn't stuck around for it. I always run cold and the hub-deep creek crossing at mile 2 would have done me in entirely. I have already experienced frostbite enough in my life and see no need to go through that again. I would have dropped out rather than cross that creek and suffer frozen feet the rest of the race.

It was a bummer to miss it but there are two more chances at redemption. Last year I lined up three times, DNF'd twice, and had a super crappy race the one time I managed to roll over the finish line. So the overall score so far is Snake: 4, Emily: 0.

This past weekend was supposed to be Southern Cross, which was a real fun time last year, a Yazoo-soaked midwinter meeting of cyclocross, weirdo roadie, and endurance mtb tribes. Last year it rained but at least it had been warm enough to rain. This year the cold snap left at least an inch of snow all over the area Thursday night. Friday morning the major roads were clear but it was not going to get above freezing so no melting off.

I picked up Mandy who was visiting Atlanta from Vermont, and united her with her bike for the race. She claimed she had some work thing that had brought her down but I suspect she was just trying to escape the 10-degree Vermont cold for the balmy 25-degree Atlanta warmth. Skids greased by skid-greaser extraordinaire Mike Stanley meant Mandy would be racing on Shey Lindner's macked-out 2009 Terrapin Niner. Splacknasty (look it up) blue-anodized Industry 9 wheels, the famous ball-peen-hammer-resistant rigid carbon fork, and some cranks too awesome for me to fully appreciate. A pretty sweet ride for a loaner.

We were standing around shooting the breeze in Dahlonega Wheelworks when we got the call from Namrita, the steep winding backroads to the race venue hadn't been plowed. Cars sliding into ditches, no way to get the volunteers out on the course, can't even get to the cabin we were supposed to be staying in. Could be even worse by the next morning. Race postponed two weeks. I don't blame them at all.

Mandy and I headed to Mulberry Gap to get in some snow riding. I'd luckily thrown my mountain bike up on the roof rack next to my cx bike, so I hit the Pinhoti full strength. Namrita and Ron came up from the city to join us. Not enough snow had fallen to really obscure the trail or hide obstacles. It was cold and crisp enough that ground stayed frozen and the snow was not slippery at all. The riding was pretty great even with my really horrible tire choice [the old-tread-pattern Racing Ralph. I am not a fan, and apparently Schwalbe wasn't either.] A medium-size animal-- probably a fox or stray dog-- had been the only living thing down the trail before us, and we followed its prints for miles. The sun even broke out for a minute now and then, a lovely winter day.

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