I lucked out with nice weather on my day off yesterday, and decided to hit the trails at West Branch State Park, for what would probably be my last training ride before the Iceman Cometh Challenge race next weekend. I always get a little uncharacteristically superstitious during my last ride before a big race. If I ride poorly, I'm afraid that's a preview of how I'll ride during the race, but if I have a good ride, I fear that maybe I've "peaked" too soon.
The trail was covered with leaves, which made picking lines through the more technical sections tricky; I ended up walking more of the rock gardens than I usually have to. Plus, when I'm riding alone in the woods, I usually dial it back a notch just for safety. These two factors combined to neither shatter nor over-inflate my confidence. I did two full laps of the lake-side and upper trails for a nice and long, but casually-paced, pre-race shake-down.
The trail was relatively dry, other than a few of the usual trouble spots. It's raining today, though, so if you plan to mountain bike, help preserve the trails and give them a couple of days after the rain stops to dry out. With some luck and more dry days, we may have plenty of good fall off-road riding left to do this season.
It's also hunting season, and the trails at West Branch are open to hunters, so if you plan to ride there, where bright colors and make lots of non-animal-sounding noise (I would not recommend wearing this as a bike jersey).