I have no idea how Wompatuck's reputation did not precede it but I totally missed the memo on this one. Although I suppose it does exist in that weird middle zone between buff and full on technical that many people have a hard time explaining accurately. But I'm gonna give it my best shot for those of us that ride without suspension.
Wompy is FAST. But it is not buff. AT ALL. It is washboard roots and small rocks, not enough to really slow you down but just enough to require constant attention and rattle you into oblivion. Its like that literally everywhere, it is relentless. This course had maybe a handful of places you could 'relax' everything else was ridiculous high speed beat down. You know how sometimes when things get really chattery you can have a bottle pop out after taking a solid shot? I saw a bottle on the trail STILL IN THE CAGE. This course rattled someones entire bottle cage off. By mile 10 just about all the food in my bento box was gone. Either pulverized or sent flying into the woods. I have been racing with that for years and never had that issue once.
For a short period I was having fun, maybe about 1/2 to 2/3 through the first lap. I was getting beat up pretty bad but the pace was high and the trails are really great just so punishing at race pace. I think I was sitting about 5th or so, which was in the money for this race so I was feeling pretty good because I usually finish stronger than most at these distances. But around this time I was assuming the course was going to let up at some point. This did not happen. In fact it got worse. I was laughing at times I was getting so brutally battered.
I was having a harder time putting power down because I was spending little time actually entirely in contact with the ground. I was getting thrown around like a rag doll. My wrist and shoulder were starting to feel weak and sore and I was starting to get a hot spot on my palm. Never had issues with that before but I think it might have been caused by my attempt to let the bars float a bit in the rough stuff which created more rub in a weird spot. It got pretty bad pretty fast and my prospects at finishing strong were dwindling quickly.
yeah blister pics! second one this season
Somehow I was still managing my nutrition ok. No cramps, legs and lungs felt pretty good when the course actually let me use them. No one had caught me for a while so I figured that meant everyone else was suffering as bad as me. I could tell I was starting to fade though and I was having more and more issues riding things cleanly. I wasn't dabbing or crashing but I was wasting A LOT of energy. I came through the lap point in a little over 2hrs which I'm happy with. My average was well over 10mph despite the brutality but I was still on the fence for continuing.
My hand had gotten pretty bad and I wasn't sure I had enough calories on me to make it. I rarely quit though so I grabbed my bottles, figured there were some aid stations I could stop at for food in a pinch and I thought maybe a person or two would crack (like I was) and maybe I could sweep them up late. I got back at it but things went south quick. There was a short fast, somewhat smoother section at the beginning of the lap but after that you hit the biggest climb of the day and then right into the high speed rough stuff. I forget exactly where it was. probably coming down off the climb...my lines were getting sloppier and my upper body was worked and tired. My arms were locking out here and there cause I was getting lazy and at some point I took a less than ideal line and took a solid shot that went straight through my wrist directly up to my shoulder and shocked me pretty bad.
I almost yelped it was that good. This changed my entire mindset. I knew I was in for much more of the same if not worse. My hand was starting to hurt pretty bad and I was sure I'd be paying the price for days to come after that jolt. I started getting real tentative in the rough stuff which only made it worse. I was the one getting swept up. I got passed by two SSers in the span of a mile or two. I was shutting down mentally and physically. I was starting to think of sections that were still coming up and how much worse they were than what I was currently on and getting destroyed by. I started thinking about recovery time and how much more fun the Bradbury course is for a rigid rider and I made the rare call to pack it in.
I just really wasn't enjoying myself at all anymore and I'd like to be healthy and fresh for Bradbury so I pulled off the trail onto the access road when the opportunity presented itself and I soft pedaled back to the venue. Wasn't overly pumped about it but I think I probably made the right call.
This was a great race though. Great organization of the venue, staff had things dialed, course was laid out intelligently. HUGE turnout, probably biggest I've ever seen personally. Bigger than Willowdale for sure, which is tough. I might do it again. But you can be damn sure I'll be on the Party Bike.