Squirrel, Griz, and I loaded up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head down to Bone Bender. Rain had been in the forecast most of the week and hope as we may, it was unavoidable. I had switched to my rain tires and was as ready as I could be. I figured after slogging through rain and near freezing temps at CIRREM not too long ago, some mud and rain wouldn't be too bad.
We set up camp and I took off for a quick preview of the course. We'd all ready been dumped on during the drive down and the rain returned as we set up. I sputtered through roughly a half mile of the course and knew it was going to be pretty ugly. I was stoked about the first MTB race of the year and my first enduro having signed on for 6 hours of "fun". We lined up for a LeMans start and were blasted off at the stroke of noon.
I wasn't really thinking much other than to get out quick and hopefully not be held up too much in the mud bogs. I hit the singletrack somewhere in the top 15 and started the slipping and sliding. I actually did ok for the first portion as it wasn't a whole lot different than trying to ride Denmans during the winter snow and ice. I made it past one rider on the singletrack and another as we hit a spot of paved trail into the 2nd section. The wheels fell off here. The mud started turning to goo and even though my tires weren't yet balling up into being completely useless, I couldn't get enough traction to pedal through. I hopped off and ran a few 50 yard sections, but was still riding a lot of it though I was all ready keeping my heart rate in the 180's now. Oops, so much for going out at a pace I could maintain for 6 hours.
About 2 miles in, my rear derailleur starting hiccuping. I'd back pedal to clear it and go again. On about the 4th shot through it clogged solid and broke the hanger. It wrapped clear up to my front derailleur and even shredded a new section of housing I'd put on Thursday. Damn. Not quite sure what to do, I scratched my head for a minute and thought I'd head back to camp to see if I could straighten things out. After slogging for about 15 minutes, I stopped in a field and thought I'd try my hand at single speed conversions in the middle of the field. I threw the bike over, scraped as much mud as possible off and went to town. Ya, that didn't end well. I think somewhere in here I set my sunglasses down as well and managed to not pick them back up once I gave up and headed back to the tent.
I knew it was going to be an interesting day as I was all of 2.2 miles in and watched riders trickle past for another 30+ minutes as I worked on my bike and then headed back. I wasn't the first one back as others had given up before me, but I think I may have been the first broken bike back. Over the course of the afternoon I noted a good dozen or better other riders with very similar broken bits. The bike shop on hand offered to fix me up and send me back out, but I opted to stay and hand up bottles and do whatever I could for the other guys still riding.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some cleaning on bikes, bottles, and drinking some beers. Not exactly the way I planned on spending those 6 hours, but not the worst thing in the world either. I'd say the highlight of the weekend other than watching Squirrel kick some ass was getting to hang with some good buds for the ride down and back and spending some hours with like minded fellows.
Sunday's teardown and cleanup of the bike left me a bit more bummed. Beyond the broken hanger and lost sunglasses, I found the derailleur to be trashed due to the main spring being over stretched (backwards), the chain trashed (I kinda knew that all ready), and one of my newly installed ceramic bearings was now making crunchy noises. All told roughly $150ish in damages when you factor in the lost glasses. That pretty much shot my enthusiasm and has kind of left me moping around a bit this week. Add in that my sternum has been giving me fits and is hurting worse than when I first hammered it a week ago (hopefully that means its healing) and I'm not too motivated to get back on the saddle. I'm thinking a little fun riding this week is in order with commuting tomorrow, riding over to the PRC ride, and then catching up with the guys for tacos at Gif's. Maybe Thursday I'll break back out and do some more riding though I don't think the Paragon will be back in shape until this weekend at the earliest.