Friday, December 02, 2005

A Bitter Sweet End To The 2005 Season by Cam Kirkpatrick

The season finale for the Psycowpath series was held at Platte River State Park, located about halfway between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. If you’ve read some of my more recent journal entries, you know that my history at Platte isn’t that great. You would also know that I thought that I was in the drivers seat for the Psycowpath series overall title. Well, it ended up being a weekend full of surprises, some good and some not so good.
I drove to Omaha the Friday before the race to meet up with a good friend of mine, Greta, who was driving all the way from Boulder, CO. I must be an OK dude if somebody that hot was willing to drive all of that way to hang out with me and watch me suffer like an animal in a bike race. Greta was a mountain bike racer back in the day and was pretty damn good at it. She used to bang bar ends with Heather Irmiger in the Winter Park series in the mid 90’s. Heather is now an accomplished pro with a few NORBA wins to her credit.
Saturday morning arrived and I packed up my race gear and headed out to the course. I arrived at the park with about two hours to spare before the start. I unloaded the bike and cruised over to the registration tent. I talked to a few cats along the way, Shimonek, Jesse Peterson and Matt Gersib. JP was looking pretty focused and looked like he was ready to rip somebody’s legs off. He built (with a lot of help from the THOR folks) all of the trails that we were about to mix it up on. This has to be one of the best race courses in the Midwest. Lot’s of killer stuff mixed with a lot of pain and suffering. What more can I guy ask for?
I got suited up in the Rassy camo kit and went out for a pre ride with Shim. He was gracious enough to show me a few lines through some of the technical stuff. As the ride progressed, the smile on my face grew bigger. This course has a lot everything, lots of high speed, banked corners that allow you to ‘g’ it out unlike any other. A killer roller coaster section, a couple of high speed descents that can provide some quality air time if the right lines are taken. My legs felt pretty decent during the ride and I felt like I would have a pretty good race. It had been a couple of weeks since I had turned a pedal in anger and wasn’t really sure what to expect this time around. I had planned to do a couple more cross races before this weekend. The last cross race that I had done was a couple of weeks prior and it resulted in a bum ankle from all of the running. I hate running, it hurts. So I figured that I better back off on the cross racing before I really screw something up.
As I was cruising around waiting for the race to start I saw Steve Tilford and Travis Brown wandering around. Cool. If you’ve never heard of these cats, Tilford is a multi world mountain bike champion in the masters category. Travis Brown has been a pro since the early 90’s and was a NORBA national champion at one time. He also took part in the 1996 olympics, though I have no idea how he did there. I knew that I didn’t have a realistic chance of beating either of those dudes, however I go to every race with the expectation of winning and I wasn’t going to let a couple of mutants tamper with my mindset.
I was talking to Shim after the pre ride and he apologized and told me that he screwed me over. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about so I asked him to enlighten me. Earlier this season I was reading through the Psycowpath rules and regs. They didn’t make any mention about dropping races. Every season prior to this season, they would allow a racer to drop their lowest score at the end of the season. So if the series had six races, your five best scores would count towards your end of season score. I called Shim and asked if they were going to allow the same deal for this season. He called me back and said yes, that it would be the same as it had always been. On one of the weekends, the Iowa series had a race that was on the same weekend as one of the Psycowpath races. So knowing that I could drop a score for Psycowpath, I skipped the Nebraska race to do the Iowa race. Well that one came back and bit me in the arse. The Psycowpath series director decided that since they forgot to put that in the rules for the 2005 season, they weren’t going to allow a drop for this season. Whatever… I almost got pissed off, but the reality of the situation quickly took over and I came to the realization that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. It is after all just bike racing and it was still a crap load of fun. The people that put the series on work their butts off to do it and I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate it. I still exceeded all expectations for this season and could still be happy with that. For the record, you didn’t screw me over Shim. I should have looked into it further rather than assuming things, it’s all my bad dude.
So the race started and Tilford took off like a freakin’ bat out of hell. He was the first to the top of the climb, with T Brown following closely behind. Schlake was the only dude from the ‘human race’ that had enough balls to try and follow them. JP was next followed by me. Within a couple of minutes, Tilford, Brown and Schlake were completely out of sight. I rode JP’s wheel for about a half of a lap and had an absolute blast doing it. He knows all of the fast lines and I was riding faster than I’d ever ridden there before. I felt really good so I passed him about midway through the first lap and was able to gap him a little. Big mistake. I really gassed myself trying to loose him and by the time I got to the rock garden, I was in that all too familiar cross-eyed, legs boiling over with lactic acid state of delirium. The rock garden is the most technical section on the course and you really need to have your act together when you get there otherwise you will screw yourself. I hit the garden and bobbled on some of the rocks because my heart was trying to jump out of my throat. JP caught back up to me and passed me shortly after we exited the garden. That was the last that would see of him until after the finish.
One of the coolest things about the Psycowpath series is the people. During all of the races, I hear people yelling my name in encouragement throughout the race, even though I’m from the center of Iowa. This race was no different. There were a ton of people hanging out in the rock garden area, it was sweet. There was one cat that was going completely nuts when somebody would ride through the garden, it was way too cool. I must have seen or heard Greta three or four different times each lap, she was everywhere. She probably got a better workout than I did with all of the running around that she was doing. She provided a lot of motivation to keep the pressure on, despite the fact that my arse was being handed to me by JP, Schlake and the mutants.

Me in the Rock Garden.

WWJ in the rock garden.

As the race progressed, I could see that Shim was consistently about a minute behind me. During the third lap, Greta told me that Schlake had popped and was going really slow. I thought to myself that he couldn’t have been going that slow because I couldn’t see him anywhere. About three minutes later, there he was. I passed him like he was standing still. As I passed he had his tongue hanging out and he asked me if I had a gel. He was going through a major bonk. I guess all he had to eat was a small bowl of cereal before the race. I managed to keep Shim at bay and finished the ‘human race’ in second, about four minutes behind JP. Tilford won the mutant race in a sprint finish over T Brown. It was my best result and the closest I’d ever finished behind JP at Platte River. JP was about four minutes behind Tilford and Brown which put me at about eight minutes behind them. That sounds like a lot, but then when you think about the fact that they beat guys in pro races by 15 or even 20 minutes sometimes, I can feel really good about that.

The podium: Tilford on the top step, T Brown to his left and me on the far right. Shim is one the far left with JP next to him.

The series points, with all six races scored, put me in 4th for the overall. If they had allowed us to drop a race, I would have won the series overall. I’m cool with knowing that if they had done it as they always have in the past, I’d have been the man this season. It was still a lot of fun and I definitely plan to do it again next year. I just won’t screw myself over like I did this year.
So now the racing season is officially over. It’s been a very long season, longer than usual with this last race extending into pizza, hamburger, French fry, sausage and beer season. I’m looking forward to all of the rides at the Science Center with all of my greasy mountain biking bro’s. It’s a different kind of riding in that I could care less what kind of effort I’m putting in, it’s all about having a good time. I’ll still be doing periodic posts on the blog about training and whatever else I may be up to. Until then…

Thanks for reading,



Anonymous said...

Chesterman is going to love that shot.


Rasmussen Bike Shop said...

Cosmo,you are still the MAN to us!!!

Pete Basso said...

Great season Cam-a-roon. So good, in fact, that Sterl named his little guy after you!

- You're Greasy Mtb Buddy

Anonymous said...

Excellent job, brother! I'm so proud of your studly arse! Can't wait to see you for Christmas!