When we woke up it was cold and down pouring. I didn't really bring warm enough clothes. TV in breakfast area was going on about anomalous super-cells driving today's weather. Jeez. Rounded up all I had plus started making garbage bag poncho, shower cap, garbage bag shoe covers, double shorts, wool t shirt, gore wind proof arm warmers, surgical gloves over my gloves.
Start was rainy. I was at front of non-prestige start block. Chambers and I were few minutes apart last year and he made the cut when I was dinking around pumping my tire every couple minutes to try to make it back into town. Anyway, this year I had made up my mind to ride steady but conservatively and see how that sorted me on the long climb out of town. Turned out it worked well as I could see Shawn up front and I was 20th into the single track and I felt like I saved all my matches for later when guys around me were at max ventilation.
Singletrack was awesome till the sideways snow and sleet really started puking down. It coated my glasses so I couldn't see. It was blustery and cold. Cold enough that my hands started to freeze on the climb. I knew that would be bad for the descent, and suicidal on the long gravel descent. I plugged away and started seeing guys in the trees unable to fix flats as their hands were frozen to clubs. Other guys were doing arm swings. Some were wiping glasses. Hail and sleet were sandpapering my knees. I was all of a sudden really cold and knew this wasn't going to happen. Then I thought with Yak Attack, Water Valley under my belt, and I'm toast, this is going to decimate the field. I knew there was no way with my gear that I could do the 12 miles of skull valley descent going fast down a gravel road. I'd have no body heat left.
I stopped where cars and supporters were. Few guys were going through. Someone let us in an Explorer to warm up. I was shiver convulsing and worked fingers through that pain zone, then caught first ride back so I could drive the 15 passenger van back out and help extract people.
Feet were frozen in my casual shoes even after a hot shower, and I think I set new passenger van speed record up the twisty road. Helped a few people out, but they also had busses and the fire dept emergency response unit out.
Big let down overall. I had hoped to ride well. And had I brought Canadian winter riding gear I could have done it... but that's out of expectation coming to Arizona. Shoot.
Tim had a tougher day with a rib and fingers injury wipeout. Shawn finished 3rd and froze his hands. Cindy pulled and was hypothermic. Ashley didn't start the 25.