Mud is becoming about as common for a mountain bike race as a windy day on the road bike. I woke up Saturday morning, took a look at the radar, sure enough… rain. As luck would have it, it was only raining directly over Lake Manawa… No place else, just over Lake Manawa, no kidding. WTF is up the with the weather this season? It’s been dry as a bone all week, Saturday morning rolls along, rain… I’ve always felt that I needed to practice racing in the mud, so I really shouldn’t complain about it a whole lot.
Training for the week leading up to the race consisted of an easy recovery ride on Monday and Tuesday. Did a few hot laps on the hillside with Jason Alread on Wednesday. Sea-door and Taylor showed up just as I was finishing up, too tired and late to roll with ‘em so I split. Thursday and Friday were also easy recovery days. In retrospect, I probably did too much on the recovery side. Seemed to feel a little flat on the races during the last couple of weeks. Still tryin’ to figure out what works best for me with regard to peaking.
I’m pretty sure that if the Psycowpath series would allow us to drop a race, I would’ve skipped Manawa. When I saw that it was raining, my motivation went straight down the toilet. Especially since I was plannin’ to head out to Durango the next day. Lot’s of driving… I turned the tube on to watch the TT on le Tour to get myself motivated, didn’t work all that well. Something in my melon eventually clicked and I hoped in the car and headed out.
As I got closer to the course, the pavement became more and more wet, and the puddles along side the road became bigger and bigger. I arrived at the course and part of the race course crossed the road that accessed the parking area. The coarse marshals stopped me as some of the beginners were goin’ through. Lot’s of peanut butter cloggin’ up the rotation of the wheels. I had to wait for a couple of people while they stood in the road clearing the poop off their bikes… great, just what I was lookin’ forward to.
I parked, got signed up and spent about an hour BS’n with Shim, WWJ, CVO, JP, MG and anybody else that wanted to shoot the shite. A pre-ride was pretty much out of the question, no sense in gettin’ the stead full of PB&J before the race. I didn’t get around to stoppin’ by the farm implement store to buy a dip tank, so I had to settle for bummin’ the rest of Shims Pam so that I could spray some anti-poop on my frame and drive train.
So there was a rumblin’ going about whether we should race or not. CVO, MG, JP and some of the other peeps from Lincoln said screw it, not worth trashing another drive train over. So the Psycowpath folks decided to gather everybody and have meeting, to discuss our options. In the end, it was decided that we’re racin’, 4 full laps and no start loop, no cuttin’ the race short once the decision was made… right.
So after about a 30 minute delay the race started. My plan was to be second wheel going into the woods. Shim led the way with me on his wheel. The trail was pretty greasy but nothing was sticking to the frame, sweet. I was doin’ OK in the mud in the technical stuff, but Shim would gap me off a little in the tight, twisty stuff. I’d close it back up when the trail opened up. We got to the point on the course where the start went one way and the regular loop went the other. Some dude was standin’ there, tellin’ us to do the start loop, so we did, even though we weren’t supposed to. People were saying, ‘stop and turn around’, but all of us at the front kept goin. At the time I wasn’t sure what part of the course we were on.
A little later we got to one of the open sections and Sir Anthony Wilhelm went flyin’ by Shim and I like a scalded dog. My first thought was to jump on his train, but Shim seemed to respond, so I stuck behind him instead. Wilhelm eventually gapped off Shim and I couldn’t get by Shim to chase him down. Not sure I could’ve anyway, he was ridin’ well in the technical stuff.
Shim eventually gapped me off to a point where he had about a minute on me. I heard somebody behind me while I was strugglin’ through the twisty stuff. I asked who it was and it was WWJ. I let him by hopin’ that he would show me the way because he’d ridden the coarse before. I rode his wheel through a pretty technical section and discovered that I could hook up a lot better than I had thought. So we got to the next open section, passed him and took off after Shim. At the start of the 3rd lap and managed to reel Shim back in, he cussed at me, then I passed him and gave him a tow on an open section. I eventually let him by in the technical stuff with the intention of ridin’ his wheel until we got near the end of the race. On the last open section, I was plannin’ to attack and hopefully dump him.
So we get to the end of the third lap and Shim gets out of the saddle and sprints across the finish line. Once he crossed the line he sat up and I about ran him over. I asked him what he was doin’ he said we were done. I said we still had one more lap to do. He said they called bell lap at the end of the 2nd lap. WTF!!! I didn’t here ‘em say anything to me as I went by… whatever. So I kinda got screwed out of 2nd place. I say kinda because there was no guarantee that my plan would have worked. It all worked out OK in the end, nobody that was still in the points race finished ahead of me so I actually increased my lead in the series points. Also, about a couple of minutes after Shim and I finished, it started pourin’, torrential style. Dodged that bullet!
So I learned a pretty hard lesson, always look at the folks runnin’ the race as you cross the start/finish line, just in case they decide to cut the race short (even if they say they won’t). In the end, it was ultimately my fault for not paying attention. Shim heard ‘em and he beat me fair and square. So now I’m gonna open a can of whoop ass all over him at the next race. Paybacks are hell Bro!
I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Durango as I write this. My plan is to try and do daily updates about what’s goin’ down while I’m here… we’ll see how it goes so check back often if you’re interested. I drove to my sisters in Denver yesterday and drove the rest of the way today. Was hopin’ to get a ride in this afternoon, but it was raining when I got to the campground. I stood around for a while at the campground while it was raining, didn’t really feel like setting my tent up in the rain, so I said screw it and rented a cabin instead. Hell of a deal, it was only 4 bucks more a night than the tent site… no brainer.