IMBCS #5 – Sockum Ridge by Cam Kirkpatrick
I’d heard that the last race held at Sockum Ridge Park was sometime around 97 or 98. So I was curious to see what kind of venue we had in store for the next IMBCS race. I decided to spend some of the holiday weekend at my folks in Bettendorf, so on the way, I stopped by Sockum Ridge on Friday to get a preview of the course.
I get to the park and there is only one other car in the parking area. There was some dude in the car by himself and the windows were kind of steamed up. So I made the assumption that he wasn’t actually using the trails, but rather looking for a little seclusion to do whatever it was that he was doing. I had no idea what he was doing, and I didn’t want to find out. He left shortly after I got there so I figured I was safe.
I decided to bypass the lower parking area and headed up the road that led to the top of the hill. I was told by Andy that we would be climbing this hill during the race, and that we would actually head up that road at the start. I parked the car and suited up for the ride. It looked like a really cool park, so I was eager to get on my bike and do some exploring. I was not disappointed either, I found a crap load of great trails that went up and down the hills, through small water (cow piss?) crossings, across bridges and there was no shortage of killer singletrack.
There was also no shortage of thorn bushes and poison ivy either. After about an hour of riding my arms and legs resembled the back side of a medieval criminal that had just received 50 lashings for stealing a goat. I rode off the beaten path a couple of times by accident, and consequently was the lucky recipient of a flat tire. I rode back to my car and there was an old beat up pick-up truck parked nearby with a couple of dudes sitting inside. Thoughts of ‘Deliverance’ came to mind as the occupants of the pick-up had that back woods, rural Iowa look about them. I started to fix my tire when they walked up to me. One guy was carrying a stick that had a sharpened tip on it and the other had only one eye. We exchanged pleasantries and the dude with the stick proceeded to tell me about a mountain lion that had been running around the area. He said that he liked to carry the stick around for protection….
Fast forward to race day. The usual suspects were in attendance, though Jeremy V and Maharry were no shows. Squirrel and Terri brought the newest addition to their family, this little brown dog that at first glance, looked a little log lying in the grass. I rode by and almost bunny hopped it before I realized that it was a dog.
The race started on the uphill as promised and I punched it right out of the gate. I wanted to be the first to the singletrack because it was very tight and somewhat sketchy in some areas. I got to the top of the hill and could tell that I had a small gap so I continued the hard effort to try and establish a good gap. I kept the pressure on for the whole of the first lap and was able to create a big enough gap that I couldn’t see anybody behind me. Nooner, WWJ and Chia Chad were all about one minute behind me at the start of the second lap.
I let off the gas a little on the second lap and settled into a good rhythm. As I was going through a really tight, technical section my handle bar clipped a tree and knocked me on my arse. I got back up as quickly as possible, remounted my stead and sped off. At the end of the second lap, Nooner and WWJ were still about one minute back. Chia Chad had fallen of a little by then.
At the start of the third lap I turned the screws a little tighter, hoping to put WWJ and Nooner into the hurt bag. At the close of the third lap I had about two minutes on WWJ and Nooner. About halfway through the third lap I began to notice that the woods seemed a little darker. Then I heard the rumble of thunder in the distance. My first thought was to drop the hammer and get through as much of the race as possible before the rain hit. It started to sprinkle and that eventually turned into rain by the start of lap four. The course actually became a lot more fun in the wet and I had no problems navigating the tricky, wet areas.
By the end of the fourth lap my lead had grown to about four minutes. On the fifth lap the rain finally began to penetrate the leafy tree cover and saturate the trail in some areas. My IRC Serac tires hooked up pretty well in the wet conditions, even though they are recommended for dry conditions. I ended up winning the race, with Nooner coming in second by about seven minutes. WWJ came in about 15 seconds later in third.
I had pretty good legs today and felt especially good on the climbs. I also felt like I rode really well on the technical sections. I’ve been doing some intervals on the dirt over at the Science Center a lot this year and it seems to be paying off with my bike handling.
Andy Lueck did a great job with this race and I hope that this event happens again next year.
I also want to throw in a big atta-boy to my bro Pete Basso. One year ago he was peeing and pooping in a bed pan after having gone through back surgery. How cool is it that he won the sport race a year later!? Great job Petey!
Next up is the rescheduled IMBCS #3 race at Boone.
See you there,