Just when I thought that my season might finally be over with, they had to go and announce one more race. And of all places, in another place that I consider to be my backyard, the Science Center Trails. A lot of people can claim the Science Center as their backyard as it is smack in the middle of Des Moines. There has been a lot of talk over the years about how it would be great if somebody could somehow put on a race at the Science Center. The one major problem with putting on a race at the Science Center has always been that there was never a really good way to get across the three different railroad track crossings needed to create some sort of a complete loop without doubling back on the same trail… until recently.
The hard working folks that call themselves CITA (Central Iowa Trail Association) created a connector trail a few weeks ago that re-routed the trail coming off the Rollercoaster in such a way that we now cross over the ‘first’ railroad crossing on the bike path. This gave riders a ‘legal’ way to cross over the railroad tracks, thus enabling CITA to legally organize a race over at least a portion of the Science Center trails. The result was the creation of the 1st Annual Des Moines Dirty Duathlon. In a nut shell, the race consisted of racers starting at Greenwood Park, heading south on the Rollercoaster and across the bike path for two loops on the hillside. After two laps of the hillside we were sent onto Chad and Scott’s connector, across the bridge to the transition area. The run consisted of a 4.5 mile loop through Denman’s and back to the transition area. The last leg was on the bike going backwards on Chad and Scott’s connector to the hillside. We did one more loop on the hillside and then to the south side of the Roller Coaster. We headed north up the Roller Coaster and finished back in Greenwood Park.
I hate running… and yes, I dislike lemans starts. I do them when I have to and I am fast at them because I was a pretty fast runner back in the day. A few weeks ago, I decided to give running a shot, to try and do a little cross training over the winter. I consulted one my buddies, soon to be superstar professional triathlete JJ Bailey on how to get into running without screwin’ anything up. His advice was to start out on the treadmill at a very short distance, at a very slow pace. So I did, two miles at an 8 minute per mile pace. Back in the day I used to cut a mile in the lower 4:30 range, so yeah, an 8 minute mile seemed to be slow enough. Things felt OK during the run, a few aches and pains here and there, pretty much chalked it up to old age and not having run like this for about 20 years. Now that I think about it, the last time that I ran was the 1989 edition of the Honolulu Marathon. Yeah, I did a marathon and I did it off of doing 2 mile runs, three days a week for training. Stupid? Oh yeah, I was walking real funny like for the better part of a week. I made the mistake of sitting down in the park as soon as I finished, couldn’t get my sorry arse up off the ground. I had to crawl about 1/8 of a mile to a chain link fence and pull myself up off the ground. Glad I did it, but I’ll never do it again.
So I did another 2 mile run and picked up the pace a little, still had the aches and pains. My ankle was a little sore afterwards, I chose to ignore it. Ran again, this time for 3 miles. Ankle was again sore, sore enough that I was limping around for 2 days. Took a week off and tried again, didn’t even make it a mile this time and I pulled a calf muscle. Shortly after that run I had this short flash of brilliance… maybe I shouldn’t be running. So I decided to quit.
So here I am, less than a week from the Dirty Du, got a pulled calf muscle so I can’t run. I never intended on doing the running portion, but it was going to be a very serious problem when it came to the lemans start that was the rumored start format. I gave race director, Ryan Hanser, a call and he confirmed that it was going to be a lemans start. I explained my situation to him and he said to show up ready to race. He and the crew would figure out some way for me to compete fairly without having to run.
I gave a good friend of mine, Jenny Weber, a call to see if she would be interested in doing the run portion for me. She was all for it so it was game on for one last time in 2006! Jenny is easily one of the fastest female runners in the state so I knew that we had a pretty good shot at taking the team competition, even against the all male teams. I’d only been on my bike 4 or 5 times in the 3 weeks prior to this, but I figured that I had enough residual fitness from the season that I’d be OK.
So I get to the race venue and find tPod getting suited up for the solo competition. He’s been pretty keyed up for this race since it was announced and he was my pick to take the overall for the solo category. I did some more bs’n with a bunch of other’s while trying to get my rig set up and myself suited up for a recon ride. Next thing I know, it’s about 20 minutes until race time and I’m not even suited up yet… so much for a recon and a good warm-up. I threw on the Rassy camo and did a quick ride through the start section and took a couple of trips down the Rollercoaster the get he HR amped up. Rumor has it that I had smoke rollin’ out of my nostrils as I was toolin’ around the start area waiting for the start.
Ryan’s solution for my start, was to randomly draw another racers number. When that racer entered the start area after the lemans start I could go. So the race started, I still hadn’t been told a number so Ryan stood next to me and waited until a few racers mounted their steeds and rolled out of the start area. Once a few rolled out, he told me to go. I took off and quickly got into the lead going up the climb. I opened up a pretty good gap almost immediately and continued to push.
I hit the hyperdrive at the top of the Rollercoaster and quickly realized that I was flyin’ through there much faster than I ever had before. Scared the crap out of myself a few times with a couple of close calls with a few trees while going mach 4. Man that was fun!
I exited the Rollercoaster with a pretty good lead and decided to keep the pressure on throughout the hillside loops. CITA had gone through and cleaned all of the leaves, branches and acorns off the trail, so the tread on the hillside was the best that I had ever seen. I was hitting all of my lines well, felt like I was riding one of those imperial speeder bikes through the forest of Endor in Star Wars. I hit the paved trail, started my 2nd loop on the hillside and started running into lapped traffic. A lot of them weren’t really sure what to do when I came up to them so I told them to pull off the trail. It wasn’t much of a problem, I would rather have new people show up, even if it means that I have to slow down every once in a while. I tore threw the 2nd loop just as quickly as I did the 1st and hit Chad and Scott’s connector with hyperdrive still goin’.
I rolled into the transition area and passed the torch to Jenny with about a 1:25 lead on the next rider. Jenny ran through the woods with the efficiency of a deer, she was flyin’. At about the midpoint of the run, she still had about 45 seconds on 2nd place, Mark Hollander, who had teamed up with the mighty Pete Bison Basso. By the end of the run, Jenny came into the transition with that same 45 second gap… perfect.
I took off knowing that I probably wouldn’t have to put myself into the hurt locker to maintain the lead… yeah, this is bike racing, I don’t always know how to back the throttles off. I pretty much continued where I had left off, the hyperdrive propulsion system still goin’ full bore. I hit the hillside once again and could feel the lactic acid in my legs coming to a full boil. My hyperdrive can be somewhat recalcitrant when I’m in the red zone, so I figured that I better back ‘er off a little before I wrap myself around a tree. I hit the south side of the Rollercoaster knowing that I had an insurmountable lead, barring no mishaps. I still kept the pace fast because that’s the only way that the Rollercoaster should be ridden, forward or backward. I hammered up the final steep climb and rolled across the finish line in 1:21:42 just over 2 minutes ahead of the mighty Bison. Kyle Sedore and his runner, Brian Appleby came across in 3rd about another 3 minutes back. My bro tPod came through in 4th, 1st in the solo category with a time of 1:27:09… tough guy. Jane Riessen was the 1st female soloist. Great job to all that I mentioned along with all of the other finishers.
A huge thanks goes out to Ryan Hanser, Dave (Super Mario) Mable, and Brian Palmer for putting on top quality, fun event. Everybody that took part had a great time. I also want to thank Jenny Weber for doing the run, we made a great team and if scheduling permits, we’ll be back next year to defend. And yes, I will do whatever I can to ensure that I can do the lemans start. I’m sure there were a few that thought my start was unfair. I had the fastest bike splits for both bike segments. The first segment I was nearly 90 seconds quicker then the 2nd fastest person. The second segment I had the fastest split by nearly a minute. So I don’t think it would have really mattered whether I had done the lemans start or not… really. So quit yer winen’!
So that’s a wrap for the 2006 season. Stay tuned to the Rassy blog throughout the winter because I’ll be doing random posts here and there. I’ve taken on a couple more coaching clients and feel pretty good about taking on a couple more without spreading myself too thin. So if you’re interested in some mountain bike specific coaching, whether it be a year round coach or just a private lesson, let me know. I’ve received a lot of interest so let me know ASAP otherwise you’ll most likely miss out!
Thanks for reading,