Mark and I made our way from Gallatin, TN over to near Dickenson today. We planted the big truck at the hare scramble venue then loaded the mountain bikes into the Jeep and drove to the Montgomery Bell State Park for some exploring.
The MBSP has really good reviews on the Tennessee mountain bike site Mark found so we were anxious to get riding. After some sleuthing we finally found the trailhead and by that time it was starting to get late so we mounted up with lights. The trail network was extensive and the trails themselves were challenging and enjoyable. The map was good but the on-trail signs were confusing. We nearly ignored the signs after a while and just rode. It was dark by the time we had had enough but riding in the dark is loads of fun to me. Mark asked if there were ever night time hare scrambles. I don’t know of any but that sure sounds like a good time.
By the time we got back to the hare scramble race venue it had filled quite a bit. Pizza for dinner then a good night’s sleep and we woke to all sorts of mayhem. But first I must say, for Joe’s sake, Mark’s RV is way, way, way more comfy than the pop-up camper we did the GNCC races with last year. I slept like a log despite the usual late night antics that happen at moto races. Joe, we missed you this trip and hope you can make the next one.
Anyhow, sometime during the night an RV the size of Mark’s had backed in next to us. He tried to jockey left or right or something and got the thing stuck. It took a tractor, a jeep and a Ford dually to pull him out even though the ground was dry and flat. Watching him struggle was entertaining for me but you could see the guy was frustrated.
Race time. The parking lots had filled and the race lines were loaded. We were told to expect 400-500 riders at this Mid South race and I’d guess that’s about what there was. Felt like a GNCC (complete with prayer on the start line) but this race started just about on time.
Actually, everyone but me started on time. I had a four kick start and had to chase for a first few minutes. I was riding the course pretty much blind so I was only comfortable going so fast. But for the good and the bad of it, the trail was narrow and winding so there was only one line. You could only go as fast as the guy in front of you in most sections of the lap. Early in the first lap there was a flat section that had enough moisture to freeze overnight. When I came on to that section there were several bikes on the ground. It was slick but I made it across okay and picked up a few spots.
I was making my way through traffic the best I could but really I wasn’t gaining much. The trail was narrow and I’m not aggressive enough to gain many positions. Per my recent track record or having a major snafu during the race, I did tangle with a sapling that bent my shifter back to my foot peg. That cost me some time while I kicked it back straight. I was lucky it didn’t break off, really.
Laps were almost exactly 30 minutes long for me so I was hoping to pick up some pace and get in five laps. My middle laps were fast and fun and I felt like I was a racer again. The trail was holding up pretty well but started to develop some long and deep ruts. The bottoms of the ruts had thick roots running across them. There is no grip on a shiny, white root, by the way, so you had better keep on the gas and prepare for a bumpy ride if you plan to get to the end. Luckily I was having a fun time in the ruts today and only made a handful of embarrassing mistakes. The dirt was awesome and the 45 or so degree temps weren’t too cold for my hands and feet.
As I’ve been complaining about, I haven’t done much to stay in ride shape lately. Somehow I felt okay today and had good energy until the end of the race. I’m tired now but that’s normal. Perhaps I’m not as good in the heat as I think I am and cooler races are more my thing. Points to ponder.
At the end of my first lap I think I was 6th in class. At the end of the race I was 3rd. I placed 31st out of 274 finishers. I’m okay with that.
So now it’s the long nine plus hours to home in the big rig. I took a shower before we left and I’ve been able to walk back to get something to eat every few minutes. The big rig makes it a breeze to get things done. Big, I mean big, thanks to Mark Junge for having me along on this trip.
I’m off to New Zealand with my family through December so we’ll catch up next year. Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays.