Report from the Tour de Groundhog: Two words MUD FEST
Report from Greg
Gene, Thomas and I entered the Tour de Groundhog, held at Lincoln Salem St Park near Springfield today, and we probably brought half the park back with us - stuck to our wheels, frames and drive train. The first race at 10am was fine, ground frozen, good traction. 11am race - trail starting to get greasy, but the riders were still making good times around the 1 mi. circuit. By noon, and our races, the temps continued to warm, the sun came out, and the mud just began oozing out of the ground. The kind of thick, sticky mud that when combined with sticks, stems and leaves, formed the perfect countermeasure to a spinning wheel.
Gene and I did the masters race. 15 minutes before the start, I rode back the to the car with a flat front tire. No problem, found a tube and the thorn, fixed it and rolled in with at least a couple of minutes to spare before the start. We had about 18 in the field, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Did I mention it was a bit muddy? The field was off with Gene (on his mtn bike) and me (cx bike) both in the top five, half way through the 1st lap. There was one climb on the circuit, I kept grabbing for a lower gear and suddenly felt the castastrophic crunch that comes from a derailleur getting eaten by the spokes of a rear wheel. My race was finished. Gene perservered and came away with a fantastic third place finish in the 40’s - probably the toughest field in the race. Overall, he placed 5th in all Masters. I also believe he also was the highest placed mtn bike in the race.
Thomas and I were both entered in the last event of the day, a traditional cross race (no mtn bikes allowed). This event featured some of the best riders (the one’s that hadn’t bailed out anyway) from the previous races. Meanwhile, I’d been feverishly working on removing my trashed derailleur, straightening the hanger, and shortening the chain for a single speed set up. I ended up with a chain tight as a piano string around 3rd gear. Too low for the 1/8 mi paved section of the course, too tall for the climbs, but probably the best compromise available. There were 7 riders in the final event, I knew I’d be bringing up the rear but was determined to finish the race, even if I had to walk it (I had $35 in reg fees, so decided to go all in...) Thomas, to his credit, was probably set up to either win, or at least finish 2nd. He flatted on lap 3. This was his first cx race and proved he will be force to be reckoned with in this event in the future. I was able to hang in, and was the last rider through at the end of the event. Two others (including Thomas) DNF’d, so I cruised into 5th and an award. Had Thomas not had the flat, I would not have placed.
The mud was as bad as anything I’d ever raced in. Every lap, I had to stop at least twice to clean out debris because my wheels had just stopped turning. My 22lb bike weighs at least 40lbs as it sits in the garage this evening. The uphill sections of the course were completely un-rideable (no exceptions, no one could ride them). Since wheels wouldn’t turn, there was no pushing your bike - you shouldered the 40+lbs and strode one step up, half slide back, on every stride up the hills.
It was a good day for Wild Card, we’ll have our podium pictures on the Mack website. Thomas has some great photos to share, too