|Pre-ride in early March|
That route, with a bit of rework on the front side to try and lengthen it out a bit and get us off from any main roads, ended up being the course for the 2015 Rasputitsa.We were excited to have what we felt was a "home turf advantage" but at the same time, knew full well just exactly how challenging this particular course was going to be.
|Just over one month to go and frozen|
Climbing up Victory Road from Burke to Victory the climate changed and soon we hit full on winter, with cold blowing snow covered roads. Descending out we encountered a few spots of ice but nothing that was too terrible. The issues started, however, when we were on River Road, the downhill trending mainly flat road through the heart of the Victory Wildlife Management Area. The road was snow and ice covered but also frozen rutted with significantly more melt going on.
|Up Victory Rd toward Victory|
Fast forward a month and oddly enough, not much has changed. Sure, the daylight hours are extending but we still have two plus feet of snow on the ground and it still hasn't really gotten much above freezing for any extended period. Worse, we have been picking up regular snow. Another course recon with friends Jason and Jamie yields some sobering realizations that conditions are most likely going to be pretty rugged, beyond the difficult nature of the course itself. Mud, snow, ruts and frozen bikes pretty much summed up the day. Cyberia was snow covered but I managed to clean it all, on the CX bike. The mud sections were extreme and parts of the course were still dead of winter. We all did our best to prepare ourselves and everyone for what the course looked like day by day. The hope was not to scare people away but to make sure that they were adequately prepared to have the best and most enjoyable ride possible.
|Ran into a little snow on the pre-ride.|
|The roads were a little muddy.|
|Great crowd of hearty folks|
After Burke Hollow, in the chatter, I loose my bottle. Knowing that I'll need it, I turn and head back for it. At that point Lee Wassilie comes by me and so I bridge back up up to him. Soon we are joined by Kevin Church, on his single speed. And I thought that I was suffering. The three of us work together as best we can given the conditions. Not much drafting going on. Kevin has to push the hill to turn the gear over and Lee has a much bigger small gear than I. I'd opted to run super low (11-36 cassette with SRAM Type 2 MTB derailleur) gearing on the Cannondale SuperX disc CX bike, fearing a mud-bog race. I also knew every part of the course and was well aware of what lie ahead. I could not believe the pace people were laying down and knew that if I did that, I'd collapse on Cyberia or it's approach. My hope had been that my snow riding skill would allow for a big gain there but that hope was long since gone as I knew the 1.3 mile ascent was all but unrideable and assumed that much of the 1.8 mile descent would be as well.
|Ready for the start and what lies ahead|
Then we came to Victory Hill Rd, the first of the two climbs up to Cyberia. It is about a mile and a half long, starts gradual and kicks a bit at the top. The surface was soft and sucked the life from your legs. Getting past that you turn left onto Master Rd and the grade increases dramatically for the next half mile then flattens for another half before dropping you at the doorstep of Cyberia. At that point Lee had put a hundred or so yards on me but I could see a numerous racers up ahead, trudging through the snow. I fumbled around trying to ride, only to fail and resort to walking. Eventually I started to run and then walk with big steps, then run, then walk. Amazingly, this technique was working. I caught Lee and then caught a couple of others.
|Cyberia - Cathy riding, Jamie not having fun|
Near the top of Cyberia I was again able to ride which helped recover my aching back a bit before the descent. Speaking of the descent, amazingly, it was rideable. No, it wasn't fast or easy or pretty but it was quicker than running. I descended as hard and fast as I could and before long, I saw two ahead of me and soon realized it was Jean-Francois and Leigh. Luckily I caught them just as we came out of Cyberia, right where my folks were setup. It was important to me to try my hardest and make a good effort as this was the first time my family had seen me race. I'd spent the race thus far disappointed in myself for not being able to hang. Catching back onto the masters group at least was some vindication.
|Cyberia - March of the damned|
At about a half mile to go I rolled over the final small knoll first and stayed at the front keeping a solid but steady pace. I'd not really seen the finish but knew there was a snowy chute. With 1km to go I picked it up a fraction, trying to stay on the front. We made the corner down the drive to the snowy chute and I pushed a little harder. Just as we hit the snow Jean-Francois came by on the left and I got caught in a rut and crashed. Leigh narrowly missed running over my bike as I scrambled to get up and moving. That was it. We each rode or ran the descent as fast as possible but the small gaps held to the line.
|Top of Victory Rd one week before the race|
In hindsight, I wasn't physically prepared for the race. I suspected this beforehand as I'd done almost no intensity work. Sure, I had tons of endurance on the fat bike but very few really hard sustained efforts. My course knowledge and fear there of also got inside my head. I think that I was overly cautious with my efforts before Cyberia and a bit too conservative. The technique I used in Cyberia, the run/walk/run/walk and use long strides worked surprisingly well. I made all my advances right there and gained half a dozen places. I knew going in that this was going to be my wildcard and luckily, it was.
|Cathy finishing up|
Anyhow, it was a stellar event as all of this series has come to be. Cathy and I as well as some others were talking and thought it would be fun to host a ride once the weather and conditions improve, on the same loop so that people can appreciate just how spectacular that is.
Friends had asked about getting us to show them our favorite dirt roads in the area. Well, these are. Come back and check them out once the weather changes. I bet you agree.