Last weekend was the White Lightning race at the LBL Canal Loop. I have wanted to make it down there to race since back in the 90’s. I really don’t know why I never made it in all those years. The last few years have had some other conflicts to keep me from making the trip. So, when the weekend was cleared up by not going out of town for work like I was supposed to do, I knew exactly what I was going to do on Sunday.
Since I had never been there and the drive was a little longer than I prefer to make in to a one day trip, I headed down Saturday. Some other things ended up happening and I ended up with a passenger for the trip. Dean joined me for the drive and it was great to have someone along to keep me awake. We left a little later than I wanted, but it was still all good. We got there in time to stop by Wood N Wave were we met up with one of his buddies from the area. They were nice enough to hook us up with some room on their camp site. It was close to the loop and a nice set up. It would have only been better if I was staying in the sweet camper the one guy has.
We made sure the site was going to work and headed over for a lap. The trails was great! Lots of old school feel and plenty of roots. There were a few good climbs that were a little interesting on the SS, but nothing that I didn’t climb. The only thing I was worried about was the pace. We were moving along pretty good, but we did take some breaks. The trail was nice and dry except for a few small sections. My jersey on the other hand was not. It must have been humid out there because my jersey was soaked. I turned my phone off because I was worried it might get wet.
After the ride, we went back and cleaned up before heading in town to eat. I was not sure where we were going, but I was not too worried about it. We showed up someplace I was not expecting. It was basically a Dairy Barn in KY. There was a long line and seating was out side only. The main issue I had was there was no bath room. After all the drinking, I needed to find one or a place to hide. Good thing there was an IGA across the street. The food was good and the shake was even better.
After we ate we headed back to camp. With the driving, it did not take that long to get there even missing the turn the first time, but not before we hit an armadillo. Not sure I have ever seen one of those. He should have stayed were he was and he would have been fine, but he didn’t and we wasn’t. Camp was set up and we crashed not long after. I do love my new tent. I can’t believe how sweet it is!! I am looking forward to using it again, but not sure exactly when that will be. I have to work on that one.
Morning came quick enough and we were off to the start area. We first parked in a place that we were told we might get a fine for parking there. So, we headed down the road farther and found something more ticket friendly. I headed up the hill and signed in. Talked to a few friends on the way back to the car and got ready as quickly as I could. I spun around a little bit, but nothing I would say was a good warm up. It started to drizzle some on and off. I figured we might get wet, but someone said it was not supposed to last. I believed them since it was only a 10% chance anyway.
Sitting waiting for the start it ended up raining a little more with a few times of really coming down. The SS class started pretty far back in the group. I figured this would give us a lot of carrots to catch. I needed something to chase as I looked around at the start and knew where I was going to fall in place with most of them, way behind. I kept up at the start and as we went in to the trail. I had some hopes as to keeping up for a little while when Steve or Nick looked over their shoulder and asked if everyone was on. I thought sweet, a group ride for a little while. That might have been the thought, but my legs didn’t think so. I kept with them for a little while, but the legs felt heavy. Probably from not warming up correctly and some from the hard ride the day before.
The way they felt, I figured the second lap would really hurt, so I backed off some and went my own pace. I started passing a few riders and finding my groove. The rain continued to come down and at times was pretty hard. The trail was a lot wetter than I would have figured already. It was more like what I would have expected on the second lap, not the first. I didn’t ride too bad, but probably not as hard as I should have. I did spin out on a hill or two that I didn’t expect. The back brakes were starting to not work correctly and one of the times I was off, I made a quick adjustment to the pads.
The rain let up for a few minutes and gave me hope, but that did not last. It then came down even harder and continued. The trail was getting to be a mess. I was getting mud splashed in my face non-stop. The glasses did not stay clean. At this point I was thinking that I really should have put that SKS down tube fender on. I had no idea the trail was going to end up like this after the way it looked the previous day.
The next lap and a half is kind of a blur. I rode everything I could. I stopped several more times to adjust both the front and back brake, but it ended up not mattering since I didn’t have any brakes at all. Not sure why I continued to pull no the brake lever, but I did. At this point the trail was really not a trail anymore. I was riding down a creek. A flowing creek, with some lakes thrown in. I could not longer wipe dirt out of my eyes or take a drink that was not gritty. I was now kicking myself in the ass for having a fender, but not having it. I was just ready to get back to the car.
Surprisingly enough, the legs were feeling pretty good. Not as strong as I would like, but much stronger than they were earlier. I climbed the switch back climb both laps. I was not sure I would be able to do that the second lap. When I came out of the woods, I just hammered up the hill to the finish. I was so ready to be done. I headed straight for the lake and went for a swim with everything still on. I was just trying to get some of the mud off and it kind of worked.
We waited around for the awards. The sun finally decided to show it self and really start to warm things up. I gave Dean my extra jersey since he was going to be on the podium. I see a lot of TBRA races have an actual podium and he wanted to look good on it and his jersey was toast from the race. He did have the jersey on, but there was no podium to stand on, just some quick awards and everyone went on their way.
We loaded up and was heading north. Only a little bit on the interstate I was getting ready to close the windows and it seemed like something blew out of the car. I asked where he put the jersey since I figured it was in the back seat. Nope, he had it on top of the car since it was locked. Dammit!! Now we need to turn around to go back and try and pick it up. I did not want to loose that thing. The first turn around had a cop sitting in it, so I was not going to turn around there. I went all the way to the next exit and as I was exiting, I saw a message on my phone. Shawn was apparently behind us and saw the jersey. He stopped and risked his life getting to the middle lane to pick it up. He caught up to us at the exit and we make the exchange. I was very thankful that he did that, I am not sure how long it would have taken us to turn around and go back and find them. I guess it was a good thing the cop was in the turn around or hard telling when I would have seen the message and how long we would have been looking for the jersey.
I enjoyed the weekend and the race even with all the rain. It would have been more fun with out the rain, but nothing I can do about that. I will make another trip down there and try to enjoy more of the area. Once again I am happy with my riding, but really wish I could be a little stronger. I know I was not as fast as I could have been so it is hard to tell exactly, but I need to save a minute a mile to find myself in contention for the front. Not sure if I can do that quickly enough or not. Especially since I am only getting to ride once a week right now and that is a race. Baseball is now over so I really hope to free up some more riding time, but it might be too late to make enough improvement this year. I know you build on each year, so maybe next year I will be closer to where I want, maybe not.