Yesterday was the second annual Karl's Kaleidoscope race at Hungry Mother Park in Marion Virginia. Last year I lucked out and won this race due to it only being 18 miles long. This year they upped the mileage to almost 30 for sport class and left the expert mileage at 52. I had planed after last year's podium to move up to the expert class although I knew I didn't have it in me. Well, since they upped the mileage for sport I decided I'd stay put in the sport class and if I was lucky enough to manage another podium I would move up next year to the 52 mile expert class.
The weather was dreary, to say the least, at 5am. Although the 1.5hr drive up I-81 north to the park was dry that would soon not be the case. Upon arrival it was wet, very wet. The creeks were full to over-flowing and that was just in the park. Later in the race we would find out how full the bogs would be.
It was a mass start at 8am this year. Last year we had staggered starts where the experts left at 8:30 and the rest of us started at 10:00. This year the sport and experts lined up to start at the same time. This, I knew, would have most of the sport riders tearing out with the testosterone rush in front with the experts. Myself and a couple of others played it smart and eased out. I used the first 30 minutes of the race to warm up as did last years 3rd place finisher. We hooked up with the expert girl that was leading and got a nice pace line rolling after leaving the park, well for MTB's on the road that is, and started catching peeps ahead of us. The course used a 4 mile stretch of road, both ways, to link us to the other trails outside the park's boundarys. After a couple of creek cattle crosings that were like muddy quick sand we made it to the single track finally. We turned into a 7 person group upon entering the trails known as "Crawfish".
Crawfish? Yep. This was my first time riding this trail and I had seen pics of bogs and creek crossings before but they were to be nothing like the pics I had seen. It had started raining and the trails were a mess. The experts had blasted through and just tore them up a little bit leaving the rest for us to trash. The first creek crossing looked more like a mini-river and ...... deep! 2/3rds up on a 29er wheel made it a little difficult with the swift current but we managed. Oh, the water was freezing since it was the first one but after that the temps didn't seem as bad. We crossed that creek several more times before getting to the fire roads and each time the water was at the rim of it's banks.
I managed to slug back in for a 7th place after riding with the three other guys I hung in with. There were a couple of sandbaggers. One raced expert last year and dropped back to sport (to each their own I guess) and the other one (the winner) is a habitual sandbagger around here. So to me the guy that finished 3rd was the real winner but that's just me and I don't make the rules. What would one of my posts be with complaining about the sandbaggers huh? right?? Of course.
I do know that on the way back in on the road a couple of us were freezing. Mid 50's, rainy, cloudy, soaked to the bone, muddy and a nasty little head wind made the last 30 minutes miserable. A big ole thanks to the Hungry Mother Park rangers for opening the B campground shower house so that we could wash off. That hot water felt soooooo good. The jersey below looks better at the finish than it did up on the single track. We all were covered in black mud from the bogs but the rain on the road section of the race rinsed most of it off.
That's what I did this Saturday. What's up for next weekend? The Charlotte Maxxis race is on the calendar for next weekend but I'm up in the air to go or not. The following weekend has us back over at Asheville for the River Festival and the summer night CX race. I've been craving some gravel road action on the new Niner CX bike so if I could find a gravel grinder close......