Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Until about six months ago, I had no idea that Lake Ahquabi State Park existed. At about that time I had gotten an e-mail from Bruce Brown asking about my thoughts on having a new IMBCS race at Lake Ahquabi State Park. His description of the course was pretty simple, it’s a lot like the Chequamegon 40 race course. With the real Chequamegon 40 a little over a month away, it seemed like it would be the perfect way to gage where I am for that type of course.
With Ahquabi being described as a pretty wide open, double track course, it seemed like the perfect place for a beginner to make their debut. My friend Julie had expressed an interest in trying a mountain bike race. She told me that her mountain bike had a flat tire, so I told her to bring it over and I’d fix it and give the bike a much needed tune up. Upon rolling the bike to my work stand, I went to hoist it up into the clamp. As I began lifting the bike, I thought that I was going to throw my back out! I finally wrestled the bike into the work stand and then looked across my garage at my old war horse, a 22.5 lb., 1998 Mongoose ti frame tricked out with vintage early 2000 XTR components complete with Chris King hubs on the wheels. Yes, she’d like this bike much better. I fixed her bike, then blew the cobwebs off of the ‘Goose and prepped her for a post-retirement race. I also had a little chat with the ‘Goose, telling her that she’d be OK with her new pilot and to not buck Julie in her first mountain bike race.
One of my goals when I took over as IMBCS president, was to try to maintain a wide variety of race courses throughout the series. We had just about every kind of mountain bike race course that you could imagine. The only type of course that we were lacking, was a Chequamegon like course. Enter Lake Ahquabi State Park. My reconnaissance of the course confirmed that it was in fact a nice replica of Chequammy. Very fast, fairly wide open, lot’s of rolling hills, some pretty tough climbing and a whole lotta fun!
Like last week, I was capping off another 21+ hour week of training with the intent of training through this race in preparation for a few bigger races coming up in September and October. So I wasn’t expecting a lot out of my tired legs. As the race started, I could tell that my legs were a little better than last weekend. We hit the first hill and my intention was to hit it fairly hard in an attempt to create a little separation and prevent a lot of peeps from grabbing a tow off of my wheel while going through some of the faster sections. I stood the entire way going up the hill, but also tried to keep my perceived effort below the red zone.
As we crested the top of the hill and began our descent down a pretty gnarly downhill, I could tell that we had lost most of the expert field on the climb. Shim was on my wheel and he had WWJ on his. Shim told me that it was just the three of us and it stayed that way for the first four miles of the race. Shortly after that, Shim told me that WWJ had popped off the back. We hit the last couple of climbs and I could tell that Shim was starting to yo-yo off of my wheel. On the last climb of the first lap, the separation finally stuck and I was on my own.
During the second lap (of five), I took a look at my HR monitor and my heart rate was hovering in the upper 150’s. When my legs are fresh, I can usually maintain heart rate in the 170’s, which is where I would have liked to have been for this race. However, upon applying more pressure to the pedals, all that I could muster out of this tired old body was an effort in the lower 160’s. And that’s pretty much where it stayed throughout the race. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, with the exception of one precarious moment at the beginning of the penultimate lap. As I crossed the finish line at the end of lap four, I went flying around the grassy corner and found myself slightly off line. As I rounded the corner my bike slid into a two wheel drift while doing about 25mph. I’m pretty sure that the diameter of my eyeballs grew to a point where they were larger than my glasses. Ride ‘em cowboy!
Like last week, I was again fortunate enough to win the race by a pretty good margin. Shim won the 35+ category and also brought home 2nd overall and WWJ rolled home in 3rd. Chia Chad came out to play in the dirt and netted a 4th place overall finish. A couple of other noteworthy performances, Kent Carlson ripped it up in the singlespeed category, winning by a little over ten minutes. Julie had a very successful debut winning the women’s beginner race and managed to keep it rubber side down the entire way!
A huge thanks goes out to Bruce Brown and his host of volunteers for putting on a great event that went without a hitch. He put together a great course that everybody seemed to really enjoy. There were a lot of awards and schwag, enough that very few people went home empty handed. He also provided a great post race party, with a lot of great food and beverage. Overall, an outstanding effort in his debut as race director!
Next up is the Psycowpath race at Tranquility Park in Omaha. The last time we raced there, I think the temps were in the 20’s and the wind was howling at about 80 mph. Hopefully the conditions will be a little better this weekend!
Thanks for reading,