Night Weasels Cometh! 40+ Race Report
By Humberto Raposo
I had done this race two or three years ago as a Cat 4 and had vowed never to do it again. It had been a wet fall and even though it hadn't rained that day, everything was wet. That year, Ski Ward had let the grass grow tall and hadn't cut it back far enough. The field was plagued with broken chains and damaged derailleurs. I was running Dugast Typhoon tubulars at the time. I recall having a miserable time holding my lines and an almost impossible time cutting my speed enough before entering the slick corners. Pre-riding the course, it didn't look that bad but as soon as the course started wearing in from hard laps, it changed to an entirely different course. There was mud ankle deep and the corners were super slick. I wasn't racing, I was just trying to stay upright. There is always a lesson to be learned from a bad experience. I either needed to get better traction, learn how to corner better, or change my braking system. Then comes 2014, I recall having a conversation with Tim Ratta and discussing my horrible experience at Night Weasel Cometh and the final statement was, "at least it will be dry this year." Well, would you have guessed that we get 2 days of rain just in time for the race? I should have. I did change my tires to the FMB Mud Tire which I happen to use for every condition to make up for my terrible cornering disability. As in previous years, the course quickly started deteriorating. The terrain shifted from wet grass to mud (not ankle deep...thank goodness). The Cat 3 race was the third race of the night and it was shifting from daylight to darkness. The lights luminated most of the course but there were areas that were just dark enough that you had to remember what was there from previous laps. The course snaked up the ski slope with a downed telephone pole and steep off camber section to deal with along the way to the summit. Once you crested, there were a series of long winding slolem type turns that allowed you to carry some good speed as you entered the next turn. If you could hold your line, you could really burn this section up and rest at the same time. The Mud tires made a huge difference here and I had a couple of laps where I was leading my group and could really test out how fast I could go. That was really enjoyable! You almost didn't need any brakes at all. There was a set of stairs thrown in there that looked more like bumps instead of stairs. I could ride them but not fast enough.....runners were passing me!! After three laps of riding the stairs, I started running them as well. It was faster!!! It only took me three laps to figure that one out. I had two mis-haps both involving other riders. There were some fast sweeping off camber down hill sections. The guy in front of me takes a spill, I change my line, he drifts/slides back into my line, I correct my line again....boom! I get up....its all good...I actually gained a position. Coming down off the summit, another guy takes a spill, starts drifting back across my corrected line, I break through two sections of course tape and keep going...lesson learned! I had started in 77th position out of a field of ~92. I finished in 35th position overall and 17th (out of 47) in Cat 3, 40+. I am happy with that. So the big question is, "Did you have fun?" Yes, it was fun and I highly recommend this race. Just pick the right tires. It makes the difference between a miserable experience and shear enjoyment.