So this was the one year anniversary of the time when I pre-rode the course at Sockum Ridge. I was approached by some one-eyed hick with a big ‘ole stick that had a sharp point carved at the end of it. Warned me about the cougars wandering around in them thar hills. Crazy stuff I tell ya.
This years edition of the race at Sockum Ridge was a stage race. Saturday was a time trial, hill climb and short track cross country race. Sunday was a typical cross country race. I had just come off of a recovery week so I was plenty rested, probably a little too rested. Recovery is always kind of a juggling act, never know for sure how much is enough.
So I arrived at Sockum Ridge State Park, about 30 minutes south of Iowa City and was a little disappointed at the low turnout. It was Father’s Day weekend so I suppose I could understand a little. The first event of the day was the time trial, which consisted of about 80% of a lap run backwards. I was scheduled to go at about mid pack behind Amanda and Scott Murphy. My race started and I seemed to lack the motivation to hit it out of the gate balls out. It pretty much started with a fairly steep climb. Throughout the duration of the lap, I felt a little tentative in a lot of areas. I also noticed that my head wasn’t completely in the game. I ended up catching and passing Scott and Amanda, they cleared out of the way and I didn’t miss a beat when passing. I ended up finishing with a time of 14:11. Nate Cline (spelled with a ‘C’, not a ‘K’) came in 2nd at around 14:17. If you follow the news postings on the IORCA yahoo group, he had a ‘clever’ way of alerting me to my error. Cram… yeah… I’m guessing he put a lot of thought into that one.
The hill climb was next and consisted of a short run up an all gravel road hill, with a short loop at the top, and then back down. I’m not real crazy about flying down a somewhat curvy gravel road, so I had no intentions of letting it all hang out on the descent. I took off in my big ring and stayed there the entire ride, hit the loop and headed back down. Caught some OK air of the water bars to get my time bonuses and ended up finishing with the 2nd fastest time to Hairy Jeremy Venable. Nice job dude. Someday he’s gonna start training, then he’s gonna start kickin’ my arse all over the place. Speaking of the Venable’s, his bro Paul took a pretty good dinger on one of the corners and sliced his knee open. He was OK otherwise, good news.
Last on the agenda was the short track race. My plan was to let whoever lead for most of the race. I figured the race would break up after a while and I’d sit on the leaders wheel, do as little work as possible, then drop the hammer on the last lap and drop him like a bad habit. The race started and I ended up in 4th or 5th at the start. I passed Nooner and Bisonova. At the start of the 2nd lap I passed Frankenbike and latched onto WWJ’s wheel. Nate was just ahead of WWJ and starting to pull away a little. So at the start of the 3rd lap I passed WWJ and latched onto Nate’s wheel. He was actually riding pretty well, fairly smooth around the corners. At one point he looked back and said ‘how ya doin’ buddy’. I said ‘doin’ fine thanks, how bout you?’. Don’t remember what he said, obviously didn’t care. It was a 20 minute + 1 lap timed race and we got to the 2nd to last lap and I was hanging onto to his wheel without too much trouble. The last lap started, I punched it, passed him and gapped him going up the small hill. About midway through the lap, I took a quick glance back and it looked like he’d given up the chase. Sweet. I crossed the line in 1st, Nate came in 2nd about 15 seconds back.
So at the end of the day I was sitting in 1st on GC and feelin’ pretty good about how things had gone thus far, especially considering that my mind wasn’t totally in the game. I shared a hotel room with Sea-Door and his wife at some greasy old Super 8 in Washington, IA. Thought I was gonna be sleeping on the floor, but it had two beds, saweet! So we went back to the hotel, showered up and hit Iowa City for some vittles at Givanni’s with Nooner, WWJ, his female, Chuck H. and Zach V. I ate a ton of bread, a plate of pasta complete with a fruit fly lookin’ thing (got my food at half price, I like flies) and a tasty glass of vino. I ate so much food that I had a major food coma going on, so what did I do? Topped it all off with a large cup of dark roast from some cool coffee shop.
Sunday morning came, I got up, fixed a pot of joe and ate my usual box of cereal. Sea-Door opted for the conti breakfast and ran into Taylor. Taylor asked where I was and Sea-Door told him I was in the room eating breakfast. Taylor asked him if I was eating the carcass of another racer... Mmmmm, that sounds kinda good.
I got to the course about two hours before the start, suited up and busted out the Orbea. Did a couple of recon laps and the legs felt pretty good. Thankfully there was a pretty good turnout for the XC race, a lot more than Saturday’s races. Cully Todd and the Team Skin crew were there. I’m always glad to see Cully show up, he’s a fun dude to race with.
So my plan for the XC race was to be the first into the singletrack and try to establish a gap ASAP. I locked the rear end out on the Oiz so that I could get up the initial gravel climb as efficiently as possible. The race started and I took off and managed to get into the singletrack in 1st. We got into the first technical section of trail which was followed by a pretty steep little power climb. I hit it pretty hard up the climb. Cully was sitting in 2nd and was riding a singlespeed. He had to cross it up the hill and that enabled me to create the gap that I was looking for. I kept the pressure on and the gap increased. At the end of the 1st of 5 laps I had a pretty good lead of about 1 minute. At the end of 2 laps I had about 2 minutes on 2nd place. I put it into cruise control and just tried to maintain the gap for the remainder of the race. Hit a bunch of lapped traffic and everybody was really good about clearing the way for me, thanks!
The remainder of the race was pretty uneventful and I ended up winning by about 2 minutes, Nate came in 2nd followed by Cully. Nice job fellas.
I ended up finishing 1st overall on GC. So it was a pretty good weekend as far as racing goes, though my mind was a little preoccupied with something else. My good buds tPod and aPod had this cool little dog, Jake. They’d had him since birth and needless to say, they were pretty tight with him, kind of like having a child. He was 13 goin’ on 14 and was having a pretty difficult time with a lot of things. So last Friday they took him to the vet to get an opinion on what to do. I got a phone call from tPod Friday and all he said was ‘he’s gone’. It took me about a half a second to figure out what he was talking about and I was pretty much speechless. They ended up puttin’ him to sleep, he was old and pretty miserable so it was definitely for the better. It hit me pretty hard, tPod and aPod are like family to me and I really felt bad about the whole situation. So this one’s for tPod, aPod, kPod and jPod…
Next up is another dirty double, Psycowpath at Swanson on Saturday and IMBCS #6 at Kendall Young on Sunday. I’m feeling good so I’ll be lookin’ to clean house this weekend.
Thanks for reading,