Donna, Brett, Don Pagano, Zachster!, and Christina all came out for a pre-ride of part of the Michaux 40-miler yesterday. Riding with other people makes it a whole heck of a lot funner -- thanks guys! Don and Brett were on singlespeeds and as usual, made it look easy. I just don't know how they do it. Brett was fully rigid too! Geez. Zach is Zach and wasn't even sweating until about 20 miles into the ride AND planned to race Fair Hill today too. And Christina and Donna are just like one of the guys and ride SOOOO well. I don't think Chrissy's been mountain biking too much (?) and she rode like she's been riding every week. And Donna? Well, what can I say...she's riding like a seasoned racer on her 29er and I found it hard to stay with her. She used to complain about logs -- not anymore with those bigs wheels to help her out. She log hopped every log, well almost every one of them - there were some tricky, up-hill logs and a handful of fatties neither of us could get over. We decided we'll ride together for the Michaux 40-miler, but I may have some trouble staying with her - but I'll certainly give it my best shot.
And my take on the course? Well, after a few years of mountain bike racing on all types of terrain and deciding which trails were the hardest/most technical/longest/funnest/etc, our PA home-turf Michaux is in a category all by itself and stands way, way above all the rest. I came home speechless yesterday after pre-riding about 20 miles of singletrack (we actually did 27 miles the whole ride). I simply can't figure out what to say. Should I rant about how hard the trails are? How much climbing there is? Should I bitch about the shoddy trail building at spots (off -camber with no bench cutting, steep/hard turning switchback turns; but its not all shoddy, there's some really nice rockwork sections too and its obvious folks put a lot of time into building these new sections) and the fact many of the trails are new; thus not broken it? Twigs slap you in the legs and there are spots it's near impossible to see a "trail." This is the real-McCoy -- true adventurous, off-road mountain biking on ever-so-slight resemblances of trails. No more ATV crap in this course. Should I whine about the difficulty... OMG, there are trails that aren't rideable on my skill-level (tricky rock piles with turns in the middle of them, rocky sections that you can't quite see where the lines are; logs, logs, logs, and more logs - big ones, little ones, double ones, split ones, rotted ones, ramped ones). Or will it suffice to say, there's no doubt it will be the hardest 40 miles I'll ever do -- if I finish which is still the goal. I signed up for this in prep for what's coming the rest of the season -- 12 hour duo, Rattling creek 50, and the big one for my FFF 50th Birthday, the Ironcross. The 40-miler seemed like a good early-season training race. Ha! Who am I kidding. Getting through this will make all the rest seem easy. I did the Rattling Creek Marathon two years ago and it took 6 hours and 37 minutes to finish. I fully suspect 40 miles of Michaux will take longer. But it will certainly be some of the best training I'll get all season.