The Snake’s 2nd trial in February went fairly smooth. It had rained for a few days before, but the trails drained quickly and were not too muddy. The first creek crossing was about 18+ inches deep, but I rode easily through it. Some people did walk. There were spots of mud, and I did end up covered, but it was not a big deal. I had a slow leak in my rear tire that I changed at the last aid station, but the ride pretty much went off without a hitch. I was slow and steady and finished. Some people did walk. I started the race with no legs because of the 130 miles I had ridden the previous weekend, some of that on the sadistic Airport Ride. I knew I could not push it and just rode in easy.
For the 3rd Snake time trial, aka March, the final one to get the 3x34 mile belt buckle, I was ready. I would have walked that freaking trail if I had to. I was going to get that belt buckle.
I finally fixed the issue with the tires going flat or leaking. My rims are WTB Speed Discs which have these grooves, or seats, for the tire beads. Because of this they use a thin 11mm rim tape. The bike came with wider tape, so when the tires were seating on the rim they were pulling the rim tape off the spoke holes, and thus I was getting flats. Regular cloth 11mm rim tape wasn’t working too well either. I ordered the WTB 11mm vinyl rim tape, and this seems to have fixed the flat problem. No flats or leaks during 3rd Snake, which is not to say I did not have any mechanicals. I have no idea why the proper rim tape did not actually come with the bike.
There was hard rain the night before the race. We had no rain during the race, but the damage had been done. The trails were slop on all but the highest areas. The clay/gravel trails were like runny peanut butter. A minute into the race, you no longer worried about getting muddy. The first stream crossing, the one that can get really high, was a disappointing 8 inches (insert tasteless joke here). Just like riding through a puddle. There were deeper, and more dangerous, puddles. Curves on the trail were dangerous as everybody was sliding. Riding in other’s tire groves could be dangerous as well. I just let the bike slide and tried to stay upright.
A few miles in the glasses were off- I could not see through them. I actually had to stop and peel off a base layer and my arm warmers as I was overheating early. Then I just kept going.
At mile 11 I was passing another cyclist and put a stick through my rear wheel. The guy I was passing yelled that I had cut it in half with my spokes. Luckily there was no wheel damage, but I bent my rear derailleur. The shifting got bad, but a mile later I fell over and bent it a little back, so it was not too bad. Still the chain was jumping around. At the midway aid station, I straightened and adjusted it. It was not perfect, but better. One of the riders who had a mechanical and could not finish was cleaning everybody’s chain at that aid station. Let me say again, mountain bikers tend to be super people and great to be around. I can pretty much guarantee you would not see a triathlete who broke down helping out at an age station. That just does not happen.
The second half of the time trial is where the course gets real technical. I just do not have the skills to ride the rock gardens. I rode more this time, and I am a better mountain biker for having ridden all 3 of these, but I just do not have the skill level to ride this crap. My plan was to just get through them. At mile 22 or 23 I ran into a rider trying to inflate a 29 inch tire with a little teeny pump. I asked him if he needed anything. He asked if I had a bigger pump. I told him I could give him a CO2. He said he didn’t want to take my CO2. I said, “Dude, I flatted 3 times in January. I have 4 CO2s. Take one.” He used my CO2 head since his malfunctioned with his cartridge, and 20 seconds later he was ready to ride. He said he had been there for 20 minutes.
Mile 26 was where I fell over and rolled down a hill. That was fun and oh so graceful! I was still having trouble clicking out of my pedals with these new shoes. I did not kill myself, but I was very aware that I could easily slam my head against a rock. I fell over a number of times. I have a bad bruise on my knee, various cuts on my arms and legs, and it was not until a day later that I realized I had dug my front chainring into my calf- embedding grease and grime in my skin. I could not tell you when all that happened.
I finished with my fastest time. #1 was 5:36:58. #2 was 5:24:36. The final ride was 5:04:38. My cumulative was 16:06:12. Not blazing, but I got my F$&%ing belt buckle! It was a little smaller than I thought (insert tasteless joke here), but it sure is pretty! 88 riders got a belt buckle. On the bus ride to the start I asked who would be here in the rain if there was not a belt buckle to be acquired. The vast majority admitted they would not have been there with the weather we were having.
After the race there were 3 kegs of beer, chili and peach cobbler. A band played under a very small tent. People were huddled under other small tents. The rain was falling. It pretty much held off. I did not stick around for the awards. I ate my chili and cobbler, got my belt buckle and left, as the band was playing Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone.”
I will never ride that f%$&ing trail again. At least the last 17 miles.