Frozen thumbs. That's why I'm not a pro rider: at the first sign of thumb freeze, I head for home, where I can put the extreme lack of warmth in my hands to good use by wrapping them around a couple of bottles of Guinness. Oh, well, to the victors go the spoils; to the rest of us, beer.
However, inspired by the True Grit 50 in St. George, Utah, (http://www.mtbracenews.com/view_article.jsp?id=274), I'm planning to oil the chain on my Fuji 29er tomorrow, air up the tires, and see how close to the big five-oh I can get. I've done a couple of 30-35 mile rides on my single speed so far this spring, but there's a vicious little hill that I don't really want to tackle again without gears. The Fuji has three in front and nine in back, and does a blazing four miles an hour on the lowest gear combination. Meanwhile, for inspiration, some bits from MTB Racing News (URL above):
"Even the mud could not prevent Cannondale rider Alex Grant from throwing down an impressive race. Veteran of countless endurance races, Grant has proven himself in the never-ending rain and slop of La Ruta as well as the crippling cold of Leadville.
[Alex] Grant used his profound technical riding skills to establish an early lead in the jaded-rocks and demanding descents of the Zen trail then used his experience and determination to carry on in the demanding conditions.
Grant finished the slightly shortened course in just over 4 hours. By then things had gotten so bad that officials had to shut the course down. Only 11 riders were able to finish before the course closure.
After the race Grant said, "It was pretty bad. I was so cold by the end that I had to walk the final climb even though it's a road. I had to use the palm of my hand to push the shift levers. Both my thumbs were frozen and didn't work anymore."
Grant was followed by Chris Holley (Trek 29er)."
Fifty miles, just over four hours. That's almost 12.5 m.p.h. Not bad for pushing a heavy mountain bike through unholy weather.