By Bill Bailey- This race was put on by JCB Equipment company near Savannah, at their 1100 acre property. The course was 5 mikes and not surprisingly I decided to race the 3 lap advanced class. My local SEGA-SORBA chapter helped organize and run the race, which ran as part of an existing mud run obstacle course type race raising money for a local charity.
Heat and greasy mud conspired to punish me. I had pre-ridden the course and decided the CX bike was my weapon of choice for the fast non-technical course. I had mixed success in practice climbing the sharp steep hills. They resembled CX run-ups where the course is cut straight up the steepest bank they can find. The descents were the same, steep and bumpy with sharp turns at the base. I decided I could shoulder a CX bike better than I could "almost" ride the hills or push a MTB. By the second practice day I was turning fairly competitive lap times, even though I was slowing to wait up for my ride buddy. I had no illusions of winning, but I felt I would do ok.
Friday it rained. The big muddy spots weren't a problem, it was the new little ones, tucked around a turn, waiting for me to flick the bike hard over, trusting that the skinny minimally treaded tire on the back would dig like it had Thursday. The run-ups were slick, and the 50ft tall one we shared with the mud run before the bike race was a mess. Most of the trail was freshly cut, the organizer JCB had done it with various different machines, scraped, rolled, even vibrated in places. I was told most of the work was done in four days. Each section responded to the rain differently, some getting softer, some becoming covered in small dimpled depressions, but all of it making it tougher, especially on a CX bike, even with a 1.75 29er tire on the front.
The heat was something else. I would guess it was in the upper 90s with shade in short supply. With details on registration kind of sketchy, I decided to make sure I was there early. I spent about 4 hours mostly in the sun, waiting on the ongoing mud run to end. Our race started at 11:30.
I was holding my own early on, until I wiped out in a turn, but I could already tell it wouldn't be my best effort. Early on I started feeling overheated, and my asthma even flared up a bit. At the start of the second lap I stopped to let a little air off the front tire. I was babying the skinny back tire, especially where the course crossed the curbs on the road. I held a pretty steady pace on the first two laps, but by the third lap I was taking a real beating.
I believe I finished 9th out of 15 with maybe 2 DNFs.
If I had gotten to pre-ride the day of the race, I might have switched back to the mountain bike, but I don't think that would have made much difference. I was not having a good day. It's possible the gains in sure-footedness would have been offset by the time and effort lost on the run-ups.
Still it was a lot of fun to get to race a different trail, with some of my local friends. Our local SEGA-SORBA group is working with JCB Equipment to try to bring in some IMBA people for a property assessment, for future trail development. JCB sees an equipment rental market in trail building, and is considering using their trail as a showcase. Hopefully in the future this trail will be open to the public on a regular basis.