I have ridden the Musselman half-IM bike course the past 2 weekends. It has been pretty hot both times as well as windy. Since I haven't raced Musselman in 2009 and I am disadvantaged due to my issues this year, I wanted to do some recon so that I am as prepared as I can be.
My first ride of the course was good, albeit slow. It was very hot and I was testing out a new drink - Skratch Lab Secret Drink Mix - recommended by a whole bunch of people. (But that is for another post). I didn't get my ride started until noon because I wanted to sleep. Did I mention it was hot out? Yeah. I got fried in the sun for over 3 hours. But it was good to scope out the course because it's deceptively hard. It is also really, really boring to ride alone.
I went back this past Saturday to ride it again. This time, I had plans to go early and ride with company (I was meeting a friend at 8:15 to be riding by 8:30). I met her there and we were off.. and then 20 minutes into the ride, I got a flat tire. Ugh. We changed it, but since Jill was on a tight schedule, we decided to skip riding through Sampson State Park and to just ride back on 96A - no big deal. Until my tire went flat AGAIN about one minute later. I ended up walking down 96A for a good 30 minutes or more while Jill rode back to Geneva, put her bike in my car, got her car, came and got me, and we took my bike to Geneva Bike Center so that THEY could change flat #2. By the time they were done, it was after 10 am. Jill was no longer going to be able to ride the course, but we somehow picked up Solveig at the shop, and they rode the first 45 minutes of the course with me (past the flat tire stop) and then turned around while I continued on.
I really tried to take note the second time around of places where I could push, places where I needed to sit back and spin, and spots where I would need to be prepared for steep hills or sharp turns. I also got chased by 2 very scary dogs. The first one ran RIGHT in front of me, requiring me to slam on my brakes and skid past it. Solveig crashed her bike due to a loose dog on this very same course two years ago, so you can understand my fear. I BARELY missed that dog. Over an hour later, a different dog started chasing me, although this dog wouldn't let up and chased me for at least 45 seconds. I just couldn't drop the dog and I thought it was going to bite me! I kept trying to figure out if I could unclip and kick it in the face. I love dogs and don't condone that type of behavior, but I was scared to death!
Anyways, moral of the story - don't ride by yourself or you might be eaten by a dog.