I would say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the course was basically unrideable, but the stuff you could ride was really fun and suited my style pretty well. I had been earmarking this course as one that I wanted to do well at all the way back at the beginning of the season because I knew it suited me.
So lets get to the highlights...within the first 200 yards I dropped my chain. SWEET! It was a brand new chain and I think I might have gone pansy when tightening the bolts when I put the wheel back on and it slid forward a bit and presto, SS field gone and I'm riding by myself at the back of the expert field per usual. I got back on and hammered hard because I wanted to try and get back into things and I was motivated for this course more than others.
Strangely I actually caught a guy within a mile that usually beats me by at least 5-10 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised and motivated even more. I dont know what happened to that guy, I kept waiting for him to catch me but he never did and I think he may have just given up because he wasnt on the result sheet and his car was already gone when I got back to the parking lot after finishing.
The next best thing that happened was my half gainer into a mud hole on my third lap. I had ridden this section with two successive mud holes two times before just fine but I think the holes were continuously getting dug deeper and deeper by riders every lap and the third time around the depth of the first hole caught me by surprise, I went into a instantaneous fully inverted endo and literally dove into the next mud hole hands/head first. The hole was so deep my arms went completely in and I didnt hit ground until my head was almost completely submerged! I had to hold my breath, my nose was under mud water. One of the most hilarious things I have ever done on a bike. (I was later told by a woman taking pictures of riders that the mud running down my face made me look like a "horrifying Polynesian warrior"...EPIC SCORE)
On my last lap a SS rider caught me about 1/4 through the course. Seemed to me he came out of nowhere. He passed me going through some heavy mud and I jumped on his wheel for a bit. The strangest thing was that he caught me so quickly but then he was riding very slowly in front of me. I was having no trouble holding his wheel and I was even getting some rest hanging back there. Coming into the Gravity Cavity he stopped to snag a water bottle from a friend on the side of the course...not sure why he actually stopped but I saw my chance and gassed it. I figured with how slow he was riding in front of me if I got a good gap I should be able to hold it to the finish. I was right. Never saw him again. and I crossed the finish line in a hilarious time of about 2h 50m (I think the winning Elite rider came through in 2h 15m, which is very slow for this course...the mud brought everyone to a crawl.) But that 2h 50m was good enough to get me a hard EARNED 3rd! My first podium with more than 3 people starting in my class. Needless to say I am very pleased. I got $30 for my efforts too, but more importantly a little vindication.
sparkly clean before the race
The entrance to the 'Gravity Cavity'. pictures never do anything justice but this is basically a giant 'V'. Very steep descent for about 50yds and then an equally very steep ascent of about 50yds out. The trick is to carry crazy speed down the descent so you can coast up the ascent without working. For reference my comp clocked my max speed at 36mph. FAST on a MTB.
I should have got some close ups for effect but this sums it up pretty well