Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Iowa Games Mountain Bike Race 2005

2005 Iowa Games - " A Road Race in the Dirt"
By Pete Basso

The 2005 Iowa Games mountain bike event was held this weekend in Ames, IA. Anni, Ava, Steve and Diane all came out for the race. It was great to have them on the sidelines yelling at me as I passed them during the laps. Having people there helps motivate you to push harder when you think your pushing as hard as you can. This year's turnout was the largest I've ever seen at this event. With 70+ riders in our category, it was a dawg fight of a race. This course is more like a road race in the dirt, due to it's lack of technical sections. It is flat with very short climbs and lots of open areas for passing which lends itself to favor the "Roadies". A couple of the sections of trail were covered in deep sand which made the riding a little more technical but overall it was more of a hammerfest than a mountain bike race.

The start of the race was on a gravel road that ran about a 1/4 mile before you finally dropped into the woods. I knew I had to be in the top three into the woods to stand a chance against some of the stronger talent at the race. I led the first lap with a little help from Tracy Thompson. Tracy is a strong road racer who puts the hammer down on the flat, fast stuff. Tracy and I traded pulls; he would sit on my wheel into the woods and I'd draft him on the road. We employed this tactic throughout the most of the race until the last lap. The second lap started strong until we hit the road, Paul Veneable, who is a Cat 3 Roadie and strong mtn biker, came out of nowhere to break away from our pack of five guys leading the race. Tracy and I could bridge the gap and let Paul go. Paul stayed out of our sight the rest of the race and eventually won, (great job Paul).

The last lap started rough for me and continued to get worse. I washed out in the sand on an uphill rutted turn, almost taking out Tracey, (sorry man!), and had to play catch up to our group for 1/2 the lap. I caught the group and was now riding behind a rider I've never met. He was a strong rider but had zero technical skills. There were two spots on the course that had a short, steep uphill climbs with a root or some sort of erosion on the climb. As I followed him up the climb he stopped mid climb both times...uuuuggghh, very frustrating. To dismount your bike and run a hill while your legs have been spinning non-stop for an hour causes you to lose momentum and creates cramps in your legs. Now I had to play catch up again to Tracey, who was now leading our group of four riders. I caught Tracey and stayed on his wheel but was feeling the effects. The last part of the course was a slight uphill incline with a fast straight-away to the finish line. My legs were heavy and heat was tremendous, (just about 100 degrees today). Tracey made a move and pulled away from the group, I let him go and tried to recover enough for a strong finish. On the uphill Jed Gamble passed me along with the other the guy. (Jed is strong rider who also possesses good mtn bike skills and has an aptitude for long endurance rides, plus he is a great guy too). As they passed me I looked back to see what was going on behind me, I saw a silohoutte of another Rassmussen teammate gaining on me, I wasn't sure who this was but there was no way I was going to give up another position in this race. Even though I thought I was out of gas, I started my sprint to the finish, once my sprint was in stride I felt pretty good, but couldn't catch Jed or the other guy. I ended up in fifth position overall. The guy behind me turned out to be my good friend Jim Logan. Jim rode a great race and had a very strong last lap. Great job to Jim for riding so well and good luck in the road race on Sunday. Also, congrats to Tracey Thompson for getting second place. You rode a great race and finished strong. It was a lot of fun riding with you.

What started out as a casual race, (it was a non-IMBCS series race), turned into a hard fought finish with a lot of excitment. I'll take fifth place today, the competition was solid and this course doesn't exploit my skill set. Congrats to Patrick Alvord, (race coordinator), for getting over 100 people to this race. This had to be the biggest turnout in IA Games history.

Thanks to Ann, Ava, Steve and Diane for coming out to support me in the 100 degree heat and dust. I loved having you guys there and appreciated your support.

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