The 2007 edition of the IMBCS is finally in full swing. The first race of the season was held at Sylvan Island located in the middle of the Mississippi River. I believe the island used to be a munitions plant, or possibly a steel plant as there are ‘ruins’ strewn about the island. Anything from concrete loading docks, broken glass, chunks of structural steel, wood chips, and probably a few bombs (hopefully duds) can be found throughout the island. There were even a few muddy spots, saturated with oil, not water. The EPA would have a field day on this place.
So with this race falling in the middle of a Build period and at the end of a 17 hour training week, I was expecting my legs to be lacking a little. WWJ drove down to Des Moines from Sewer City, I threw all of my stuff into his car and we hit the road for the QC. The plan was to arrive in the QC the night before the race and stay at my Mom’s as she lives about 10 minutes from the race course. We arrived at my Mom’s Saturday evening to homemade lasagna and fresh bread, I made a pig of myself as I always do whenever my Mom cooks.
Me mum, gettin' down with the sickness.
Woke up the next morning and arrived at the course about two hours early, enough time to catch my Mom doing the sport race. This race typically draws enough entrants that they run the beginner, sport and expert races at separate times. It’s so much nicer having the course to ourselves, especially a short 3 mile course like Sylvan Island. The weather was about as close to perfect as one could hope for with temps in the lower 60’s at race time. I suited up in the Rassy camo and did a couple of recon laps to get the course dialed in. The course was set up pretty much the same as last years, with a couple of re-routes to avoid some mud holes and oil slicks.
As expected, Jim Ghys and his posse did a great job in setting up a course that was great for the racers and the spectators. There were several spots where spectators could stand and see racers several times throughout a lap.
Pre-race nerves - some people are chatty, some people pee a lot... me, I like to eat my gloves.
Start time arrived and we lined up for the start. Last years winner, Brian Eppen, was there along with a lot of other fast racers from Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. I didn’t really know what to expect from a lot of the others because most of them were from Illinois, so my plan was to get out of the gate as fast as possible and position myself into the top three heading into the singletrack. The gun went off and we made our way down a gravel road that was about ¼ mile long. I didn’t have the greatest of starts and really had to work hard to get near the front. I ended up third wheel going into the singletrack, Eppen was second and I didn’t know the cat in first. The guy in first was pretty slow and when we hit the first open section, Brian and I passed the guy like he was standing still. Andy Lueck also got by and the three of us checked out.
We swapped the lead throughout the first two or three laps and worked pretty well together. I was surprised that Brian and Andy didn’t try to tag team me because are both Mercy Specialized teammates. Brian took a couple of pulls in the open sections was able to easily open a gap on myself and Andy. I didn’t have the legs to hang onto his wheel so I knew that he was going to be tough to beat today.
On around lap four Brian and Andy started to slowly open a gap on me. I tried like crazy to close it up but my legs had no response, so I more or less settled into my own pace with the hope that it would be enough to reel one or both of them back in. I could see that Brian had started to create a gap between he and Andy so I pushed a little harder to try and close up to Andy. I finally caught up to Andy around lap five, it looked like Brian had beat him down pretty good because his glasses were cock-eyed and his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. I managed to gap Andy and started my attempt at closing the gap to Brian.
Tryin' to close the gap to Eppen... negotiating my way through an oil slick.
Throughout the remaining laps I kept hearing people say that I was around 30 seconds back. It doesn’t sound like much, but it seemed like an eternity during the race. I gave it all I had in my attempt to close the gap, but it wasn’t happening. Brian ended up winning by about 30 seconds, I rolled home in 2nd. Andy came in about two minutes back in 3rd.
Race winner Brian Eppen... a beast of a man.
Third place finisher Andy Lueck railin' a corner.
So considering how my legs felt, I feel really good about the result. Brian told me afterwards that I worked him pretty hard, felt good to hear him say that because a few years ago he used to destroy me on the WORS circuit. I gotta give some kudos to Andy, I’m sure that he surprised a few people with his result. He rode a great race and I’m lookin’ forward to some epic battles with him, Eppen, Cully Todd and anybody else in the expert class this season.
It’s lookin’ like my next race will be the Iowa City Road Race and maybe the Old Capital Criterium.
Thanks for reading,