In looking at the weather forecast late in the week for Sunday's race, I knew it was going to be bad. On the ~4 hr drive down from Ottawa to Dagmar Sunday morning, I knew it was going to be bad. When I saw those racers that finished the 10:30am start, I knew it was going to be bad....and, it was! This race was far and away the muddiest, sloppiest, slickest race/ride I have ever done.
I've raced Dagmar many times and, when dry, Dagmar is typically a very fast course with some fun technical sections. It has some nice singletrack with some high-speed sections where you can really carry your momentum up the hills. Not yesterday. Yesterday's course had zero resemblance to the Dagmar I knew.
It had rained overnight and most the morning, but then let-up slightly before our 1pm start. This made the mud super-sticky, thick and slick-as-snot. Although it did rain during the race, it would have been better if it had just continued to pour because the mud would have been wetter and would have not stuck to every tube on the bike, tires, etc....but, it did. There was not a spec of clean bike or body after the race. Most sections were completely unrideable and we were forced to run a lot of the course....good practice for 'cross in the fall. Also, the mud was wreaking havoc on drivetrains. I lost count of the number of riders I saw pulling mud out of their derailleurs, etc. With a singlespeed, there is no drivetrain to worry about, which helped.
For me, the race was a hard training ride for the TransRockies in August....and it certainly exceeded my hard training ride criteria. It became a battle just to stay on the bike and I managed to ride pretty good technically, despite the conditions. In some sections, just pushing the bike up the hill became a battle since there was very little traction in the thick, slick mud and the bike quickly packed-up with mud which prevented the tires from moving freely through the fork/frame. But, as soon as the trail tilted downward, mud and debris were sent flying everywhere...including in my eyes. Even simple downhill sections were transformed into grease and any sudden braking and/or handlebar movement would cause the bike to go squirrelly. It definitely paid to stay focused and not to panic and to only use subtle body movement to steer the bike.
Osmond was flying and managed to place 5th in Pro/Elite Men -- excellent race, Osmond! Trish and Mike F. also raced in the slop. Mike finished 8th in Cadet 15-16 Expert, but unfortunately for Trish, she suffered a busted chain 10 minutes into the race (see below for Trish's comments)....you'll get 'em next time, Trish!
In the end, I was happy to finish 14th in Master 30-39 Expert. DNF'ing was not an option and is not an option for me. Mentally and physically, I was done! I didn't bother hosing off my bike or myself because I was starting to get the shivers...I just threw the bike on the roof, toweled-off, put on some clean clothes and headed back to Ottawa. Along the way, I grabbed a hot Tim Horton's coffee and the best tasting PizzaPizza slices I've ever had....mmm.