The rain starts as soon as I unload the bike. It does not stop for the next 16 hours. I toss and turn listening to the drumming on the van roof. I know it is going to be a mess out there in the woods tomorrow. I have a very good feeling about this race, but I also have very bad ones.
We are delayed on Sunday as they pull riders out of the mud from the race before ours. Still raining. The 150+ riders are standing ankle deep in red muck waiting for this thing to happen. There is talk of "goggles" or "no goggles" up and down the rows. Rain has already gotten between my tear-offs and I know what my decision is. I pull them up just below my visor, knowing that is probably where they will stay for the duration. Riders seem nervous and jumpy, moving around a lot, stretching, jogging in place, jumping jacks. If they knew what hell awaited, they would be saving their energy.
Finally we get the go ahead. Mud flies and for a second I wish I had goggles on. One of my contact lenses slides to the corner of my eye never to be seen from again. This is not starting out so well. I blink to clear the mud from my one good eye and set off after the machines throwing handfuls of sopping wet earth in my direction, knowing this is going to be a tough day.
|Storm clouds gather around the encampment.|
|Before 12 hours of constant rain.|
|A fun hill today, tomorrow, an impassable climb.|