Disappointment would be the word I would choose after paying for a tank and a half of gas, a $35 entry fee, a $5 parking fee and spending 6 hours on the highway to drive to Smithville Lake in Missouri for the 2009 Bone Bender XC mountain bike race. The event had been postponed from March due to weather and promises on the MTBR.com forums said that come rain or shine the event was on and would be good.
Here's a newsflash: It should have been postponed again!!!!
I doubted that the race would be normal with the weather forecast while watching the weather channel last night and checking things this morning. Sure enough, it was raining and I didn't like that, but no cancellation announcement was posted - so off I went at 8 am. I drove through a lot of heavy rain on the way down to Missouri that had come from the Kansas City area, so my worries mounted as to what condition the trails would be in for the race. I thought about turning around, but was itching to race and get a good 3 hour workout.
Needless to say - the conditions sucked. Big time! We all rode the 1st mile or so in greasy soup and then everyone had to dismount as the mud build up on our wheels made it impossible for the wheels to even turn. And our drive trains were filled with mud, chainsuck and not looking pretty. That's when owning a mountain bike and racing in crap like that gets expensive. I think it took nearly 2 hours to get 1/2 way through the first lap where at mile point 4.9 (most of which I hiked carrying my bike laden with heavy mud) I decided to pull out of the race and head back to Iowa. Race isn't actually the word for it. More like I decided to pull out of the hike through the woods carrying my bike.
I know it is tough being a race director. And I can imagine having postponed the event once already added pressure to run the event. However, I think wisdom should have trumped valor and either the route altered or another postponement made. I will be interested to hear how many pulled out of the race and how many finished. For me, it was absolutely not worth my time. As I stood in line at the bike wash with another dozen or so riders, we were all in agreement it was a bust. And that's a big bummer for me since funds for travel are limited and going all that distance to not be able to ride in a race really heats me up. I think a singlespeed with tires narrow enough for clearance at the fork and chainstay so mud wouldn't stop the wheels from rolling would have been the ticket to complete a lap. Even then, plenty of hiking would have been involved. I would have been better off jogging the course and leaving my bike in the car.
To be honest, I would have been less ticked off if the race director had assembled all of us for the rider's meeting and said "Guys and Gals. Conditions are simply not right to hold the race. The race is postponed again."
Smithville is a great looking mountain bike trail in the proper conditions. I hope to get back some day when it is dry and have a go at it. But for me, the 2009 Bone Bender was a major disappointment.