It’s so good to be back on the dirt! The Monsoon season has made it kinda rough on planet dirt lately. The Psycowpath race at Swanson ended up getting postponed to Sunday, so I had to decide which race to do. I love doing both races, both courses are a lot of fun, but I had to choose the Camp Ingawanis race as I am the ringleader for the three ring circus that we call the IMBCS.
Lebadebadoo showed up in my driveway with his minivan at a little after 6. We threw all of my junk in his van and hit the road. Some of the newer minivans out there make for pretty sweet road trip vehicles to bike races. Lot’s of room, they’re comfortable, etc., however for me to own one would definitely lessen my marketability in the market for a lady friend. I need all of the help that I can get, so no minivan for me.
Waverly is a pretty cool little town, lot’s of character, it’s clean, the Cedar River is very picturesque with no homeless camps along its’ banks. I don’t think that I could live there as I’m used to the ‘big city’ life of Des Moines. We arrived at Camp Ingawanis a little over two hours before race time so I was able to finally relax and take my time in getting ready to rage.
The race course at Ingawanis is typically around 9 or so miles, however due to the effects of this seasons monsoons, a lot of the low lying areas had a lot standing water. This years course ended up being around 4.5 – 5 miles. Casey Dean and Jeremy Bidwell did a phenomenal job in putting together a very challenging, awesome course! I’m guessing that at least half the trail was brand spanking new singletrack and what better way to get new trail broken in, than to hold a race on it.
I had enough time to get two recon laps in, which I definitely needed. During the first lap, I could tell that it had been a few weeks since I had been on my mountain bike! After bouncing myself off of several trees, I finally got myself back into the groove during my second recon lap and I felt like I was ready to rock ‘n roll.
We lined up for the start and the competition looked pretty good, Cully Todd would be my main antagonist. He told me that he and his wife are moving to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. That really bummed me out, I really enjoy racing against him. He’s a really cool cat and he’s gonna be missed around these parts. WWJ and Ben Shockey were also going to help further the suffering.
The race started and I took off like a madman. I wanted to be the first into the singletrack and try to open a gap ASAP with the hopes of settling into a more comfortable pace by the end of the first of five laps. I made it to the top of the hill and into the singletrack first, followed by Cully. Not sure who was on Cully’s wheel. I was still in the lead and pushing hard going up the first major climb, which was a brand new section of trail with several switchbacks. I hit the third switchback with Cully firmly attached to my wheel. For whatever reason, as I was coming out of the switchback, I stalled out and fell over! As I write this, I still have no idea what had caused it. Cully just about ran me over me, I told him he should have for making such a boneheaded mistake, even though I had no idea what I did. I picked myself up off the ground and ran the rest of the way up the hill and managed to keep myself in 2nd.
Shortly thereafter, I caught back up to Cully and retook the lead. I kept the throttle as wide open as my old body would allow and slowly managed to open a gap throughout the first lap. By the end of lap one I think that I had about a 20 second lead and it gradually increased over the remainder of the race. I ran into a lot of lapped traffic throughout and as usual, never had any real issues with anybody. It never ceases to amaze me at how well all of the racers in the Iowa and Nebraska series understand and execute good racer etiquette!
I ended up winning the race by about 4 minutes, Cully came in 2nd followed by Ben Shockey another 4 minutes back. Both Cully and Ben were on singlespeeds. A lot of people think that a singlespeed is somewhat of a handicap. I don’t think it is as much of a handicap for a couple of reasons, you don’t have to mess around with gears. If you choose the right gear, then most, if not all of a course will still be rideable. There is also a significant decrease in the weight of the bike, which not only makes it easier going uphill, but the bike itself is a lot more nimble when going through tight, technical sections. It’s a lot easier to ‘throw’ the bike around while riding. Guys like Cully and Ben are among the best of bike handlers and singlespeeds suit them really well. They both rode a great race!
For all of the techy geeky mountain bikers, my average heart rate for the race was a relatively low 164. My first lap average was 171 and it dropped steadily as the race progressed. My last lap average was 159. Last season I averaged in the 170’s for most of my races and in 2006, I remember averaging 181 for one of my races! I do know that as a person ages, they can expect their heart rate to decrease, so I must be at that age. I still feel young and I still plan to behave like I’m 30 so all is still good!
Equipment… my weapon of choice for the weekend was the Orbea Oiz Carbon. My opinion of this bike keeps getting better and better. This was the first time that I had raced it on a hilly course, and she scurried up the hills like a mountain goat, especially with the front and rear ends locked out. It was also my first chance to race in my new mtb shoes from Louis Garneau, the Carbon T-Flex. The leather uppers on the shoe are very durable, definitely built to handle the rugged conditions encountered in mountain bike racing. It has a carbon sole that is constructed such the toe area has some flexibility, which worked really well on the run-up section of the course.
Next up is the 3/6 hour race up at Seven Oaks. Sea Biscuit is pretty adamant that it’s going to be a pretty low-key event, but if the weather and the trail conditions are good, I think that he’ll be surprised at the turn out. I know a few cats from Nebraska that are thinking pretty seriously about coming over. There’s nothing else going on that weekend and it’s always worth the trip for a race at Seven Oaks, so I expect the turn out to be pretty good. I’m planning to do the 6 hour race as I’m a glutton for the brutality that comes with riding a mountain bike for 6 straight hours.
Thanks for reading,