Saturday, July 21, 2007

Seven Oaks and Manawa

Brief race reports…

Seven Oaks

The weather turned out to be near perfect, sunny, warm and most importantly, dry as a bone. Overall, the attendance was disappointing. However the expert field was stacked by Iowa standards. We had nearly 20 experts! As always, I looked around to see who was going to inflict the most amount of pain on me. The king of pain, Brian Eppen was there. Cully Todd, Andy Lueck, WWJ, John Eppen… Yes, Eppen has a sibling, a brother that will soon be inflicting even more pain upon the Iowa mountain bike racing community. Even tPod decided to show up for some pain and suffering.
So the race started, I led the way into the singletrack followed closely by Eppen and the rest of the field. Within a the first half lap Eppen and I had opened up a pretty substantial gap.

Leading Eppen before he put me in the hurt locker.

About ¾ of the way through lap one, Eppen passed me for the lead. I rode his wheel for the next lap or so. Everything was going pretty good, I was feeling pretty good, I was riding well. Though I did have that feeling that if he were to turn the screws a little tighter, he’d start to gap me. We hit a pretty technical downhill switchback, he went through it pretty quickly, I tried to follow suit. I took a pretty stupid line, dumped my bike over, got up, dusted myself off and tried to close the gap. I was getting pretty tired + Brian was flyin’ = game over for Cam. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort however, I worked myself over pretty hard to reel him back in, but it wasn’t happenin’ today.

tPod showin' his prowess on the dirt

Sea Biscuit entering the pain cave

The screaming tifosi lettin' it all hang out

Brian ended up winning with a time of 1:39:43, I rolled in 2nd in 1:40:30. Cully came in 3rd in 1:43:00. tPod was a big unknown for most of the field and brought home a had earned 4th in 1:46:22. John Eppen rounded out the top five with a time of 1:49:31.
All in all, it was a great day of racing! The trails were in the best condition that I have ever seen. Sea Biscuit and the folks with Singletrack Promotions did a stellar job in prepping the course. Seven Oaks continues to be one of the best venues for all things mountain biking in Central Iowa. The next race at Seven Oaks will be the 24 hour race on Labor Day weekend. I highly recommend this to anybody that loves to ride a mountain bike. I’ve done the 24 hour as a member of a four man team the last two years and had a ball!


It was a blazing hot day with temps soaring up to 99 degrees in Council-Tucky. Manawa is a fairly new venue, it’s pancake flat, very tight, very twisty, very technical and very fun. Of all of the race courses, this is the type that I struggle the most on. Going in I knew that it was going to be an interesting day.
As is always the case with Psycowpath races, the expert field was stacked, McNeil, Grady, Deal, Shim, WWJ, cyclocross superstud Wilhelm was there. My plan was to make into the woods 2nd wheel and let somebody that was familiar with the course show me the way. The race started and I got boxed out by McNeil and as a result, ended up 5th wheel going into the woods. McNeil was leading, followed by Gersib, Schlake, Shim and myself. McNeil pretty much dropped everybody almost immediately.

McNeil puttin' everbody in the hurt locker at the gun

About midway through lap one I passed Shim. Shortly thereafter I passed Schlake. I looked back and had a train of about 6 riders behind me. Near the end of lap one I caught and passed Gersib. Right before we hit the start / finish line I saw McNeil up the trail, he looked like he missed a shift and got it stuck in reverse. I and the six man train behind me passed him like he was standing still. He was obviously having some pretty major issues to slow down that much. So all of a sudden I’m in the lead. Not exactly where I wanted to be at the time. So I continued on, trying not to push too hard in the singletrack to ensure that my legs would be able to counter any attacks that might be uncorked over one of the open sections. I lead throughout lap 2 and all of lap three and the six or seven man train behind me was still there. Things were about to get interesting…

The Rassy camo at the head of the train

I knew the only way that I was going to have a good finish was to try and split up the train behind me a little. The only way that I was going to be able to do that was to uncork a massive attack on one of the open sections. The way that I felt, I knew if I had done that I would have put myself into the red. I’d been in real trouble if somebody would have been able to go with me and possibly counter. So instead I decided to slow the pace down on one of the open sections with the hope that somebody else would attack.
Sure enough, I heard somebody accelerating through the grass on the left side of me. I took a quick look over my shoulder to see who it was and how close he was. I wanted to time a counter attack such that I could jump on his wheel and follow. The deal went flyin’ by me, I grabbed his wheel and followed.

The Deal unleashing his fury

I think Grady was riding third wheel. Shortly after the attack, it was just the three of us and we were moving along at a pretty quick pace. I was kinda tired and riding like an amateur in the tight twisty stuff. The Deal was able to gap me a little, Grady recognized that this was probably a pretty critical juncture of the race, passed me going over a log and chased after the Deal. They both got away from me pretty easily and I put myself into preservation mode with the hope of at least hanging onto 3rd.
About midway through lap 4, I noticed that I was closing the gap a little. Grady looked back, saw that I was closing, passed the Deal and took off like a scalded dog. I caught and passed the Deal shortly after that and started y pursuit of Grady. Shortly after the beginning of lap 5, I closed the gap to Grady and rode his wheel. My plan was to stay on his wheel until the last open section of the lap, pass him and bring home the win.
We stayed together until we got close to the end of the lap. He managed to gap me a little before we hit the last open section. My legs were cooked, I couldn’t close the gap and he entered the last section of singletrack ahead of me. Aaron ended up winning the race with a time of 1:45:23. I brought home 2nd again with a time of 1:45:30, a painful 7 seconds back. The Deal salvaged 3rd with a time of 1:46:06, followed by Schlake with a time of 1:46:44. Mod had an awesome day rounding out the top five with a time of 1:48:00.

The podium, check out the dork on step #2

It was a pretty exciting race from start to finish, lot’s of fun to be a part of it. I bet it was a lot of fun to watch! I’m very happy with my result on a course that’s not really well suited for me. Just about everybody had home course advantage over me and that’s a pretty big factor on a course like Manawa. I don’t mind finishing 2nd to a cat like Grady, or any of a number of others in the expert field for the Psycowpath races. There’s a lot of really fast guys across the river and anytime that I can finish near the top end of the field can be considered a good day.
So the first half of the season is officially over. I’m sitting in 1st for the Psycowpath series and 2nd for the IMBCS. It’s going to be an interesting and fun second half of the season for both series. I’m not gonna worry about that for a short while though because all that’s on my mind right now is Durango! I've been in Durango for about a week now and I’ll try to get an update on how the rides are going. So until then, thanks for reading.


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