- Jan. 09: Rode with a hastily-rigged-up vintage Suntour 7-speed thumbshifter for the rear derailleur, because I'd broken my XO trigger shifter a couple days earlier. Not surprisingly, a 7-speed shifter didn't work too well with a 9-speed cassette and I was skipping gears and fighting the indexing the whole race. At best I had about three useable cogs in back plus the three rings in front. Finish time? I have no idea. I don't think I ever checked and I can't find last January's results online anywhere. I was definitely slow.
- Feb. 09: It was going great until I got a stick up in my drivetrain while passing someone at mile 10. Broken derailleur hanger, a couple miles walk back to the road crossing, and a ride back to the start with one of the volunteers. DNF.
- March 09: A respiratory infection set in the night before the race. Started anyway, but by mile 5 was puking on the side of the trail with any hard effort. I tried to just ride it out, but I couldn't keep any calories or liquids down and by mile 19 I couldn't go any farther. A couple miles softpedal back to the sag, and a ride back to the start with one of the volunteers. DNF.
- Jan. 10: It was well below freezing and no way was I crossing the river in that cold. Also I was still kind of hurty from a crash in Arizona over Xmas. I do not at all regret deciding not to race in those conditions. DNS.
The trails for the first half were pretty grizzly. Deep puddles and loose mud. The river at mile 2 was swollen from all the new rain. The crossing was belly-button deep on me and the current so strong it was pushing me and my shouldered bike off balance. A lot of racers had complicatedly-planned clothing changes for this, and were sitting on either bank dealing with that. But there was no danger of frostbite on a 45 degree day, and with many other smaller creek crossings ahead there was no way to avoid being wet and cold. I just jumped off, strolled in and out the other side without breaking pace, jumped back on, and rode away, which is just easier mentally for me with creek crossings. Easier mentally, but perhaps not so easy on the muscles. Even though I didn't feel too cold my legs were real sluggish and cramping weirdly for the next hour or so, maybe from their quick dunk in icewater.
It wasn't pretty, it wasn't my best work, but at least I got it done. My finishing time was 5h10 which was much slower than I would expect in better weather. I was the only person racing in the women's age-group classes who didn't DNF, but the 2 women who finished in the more expensive pro-level Money Class both beat me. And I was right at mid-pack against all the male finishers. So I either won by default, or was last, or did okay? This is a confusing race format to me. It's a time trial, so you're really racing the clock, but you're also racing in the mud against people who were racing on hard-frozen trail a month earlier. Anyway, I count this one as a victory just for not being a DNF.