Tara and Alexa went to Des Moines for some back to school clothes shopping and Zack was at football practice all morning, so I headed up to 7 Oaks to take a pre-ride of the race course for tomorrow. I signed in, paid my $3 and got on the trail about 12 noon which is the same time as the CAT 1/2 race tomorrow. I didn't have the best tires for the conditions, but I pressed ahead.
After the opening climb, I started to hit some bad mud as either there had been more rain in the past 48 hours than any of us thought, or the morning dew was so heavy the clay in the trail was actually still really damp. There were leaves all over the trail, branches, weeds that needed trimming, etc... - so it was hard to gauge what tomorrow will be like after any crew gets out there and does a last many sweep before the race. More bikes getting out there and riding the trail will pack some things in as well, but it looked like I was one of the first, if not the first for the day. I was pretty much just getting familiar with the new trail cuts as some of the old tracks are re-routed with some new trail sections. So I kept speed under control for the conditions.
I picked up about a dozen medium to big branches that had fallen over the trail, but didn't stop for any small things since I wanted to get in a lap. The conditions were such, that after more sunshine and the breeze went to work on the trail I thought it would be better to ride it a few hours later than 12 noon today. I thought about heading over to Subway for a bite and then coming back out when things were a little more dry, but I had to finish my lap and get home for the rest of the day's activities.
There are quite a few new sections from last year, so I will be on my toes tomorrow during the race to try and remember where and what they are. It's a great mountain biking venue, but it is not an easy race course or trail compared to most everything else we face out there in Iowa. Lots of roots (some are quite big), off camber, climbing, power climbing over consecutive roots, steep switchbacks, etc... . The first lap one does after not having ridden there in a year or so is always a bit humbling - especially when it is slick and muddy like it was earlier today. Regardless, I think I'm ready for tomorrow.