The Sugar Bottom Scramble has been one of the most popular mountain bike races in Iowa for as long as I can remember. It has always drawn the biggest crowds and the best of the best in Iowa are always there. Popularity like this does have its’ minor drawbacks as the trails at Sugar Bottom get a lot of use and requires a lot of work from the folks of ICORR (Iowa Coalition of Off Road Riders). The trails at Sugar Bottom contain a lot of everything, including a crap load of exposed roots and wash boarded, high speed braking areas, all of which leave my upper body beat to a pulp after a race. With all that they have to deal with, ICORR does a good job of keeping on top of things and I always look forward to riding and racing at Sugar Bottom.
Despite plans to compete in the 70.3 Series Ironman triathlon in Austin, TX in less than two weeks, Julie decided to suit up and take my old Mongoose out for the beginner race. We loaded up all of our junk into the Jeep Saturday morning and headed out for Iowa City to do a recon of the course. After our recon, we continued on to the Quad Cities to hang out with Josh, Scooter and Kennan. We met them at their church and then went out for some grub afterwards. We ended up eating at this bar in Rock Island. Julie and I ordered the chicken marsala. It ended up being more like wood chip marsala as the chicken was ‘thoroughly’ cooked. I figured that I had already done enough damage with the nutrition, so we decided to add insult to injury and went to Whitey’s and split a very large Oreo cookie malt. I love ice cream…
Kennan and I sharing a laugh over a funny joke that she told me about how she now has more hair than I do.
Scooter, Kennan and I feelin' the love of the mountain biking culture.
Kennan loves her uncle Cam, even when he is stinky and sweaty.
We hit the road bright and early the next morning to make Julie’s 10am start. She ended up having a pretty good race despite having a minor disagreement with a tree. She drew a little blood, lost a little skin but still managed to keep it upright and finished in 3rd in the women’s beginner race. Not too shabby for a tri-geek, I'm very proud of her!
Julie preparing to unleash her fury.
Julie shreadin' the roots like a pro.
Riding on rails.
After Julie finished her race, I went out and did the last half of a lap for a warm up and then lined up for the start of my race. Brian took the hole shot and I settled into 2nd place on his wheel going into the singletrack. I stayed on his wheel for as long as I could, however it didn’t take long for him to open a small gap. Once I lost his wheel the gap increased due to his familiarity and my lack of familiarity with the course. I settled into my own pace and tried to maintain 2nd place throughout lap 1. As I approached the end of 304 on lap one, I was surprised to see that I was closing in on Brian. I had closed the gap pretty quickly on the novice loop and asked Brian what the deal was. Apparently he had some sort of altercation with an immovable object, a root or maybe a tree? He kinda looked like he was in a little pain. I did my best to shadow him for the rest of the lap and we rolled through lap one in lock step in 46:57.
WWJ and I telling Brian how funny he looks on a bike without Kim riding shotgun.
Brian leading the way at the end of lap 1.
I took the lead as we began lap two until we hit the top of the gravel road. As we neared the entrance into the singletrack of 201, Brian took over the lead and I was more then happy to oblige. I pretty much shadowed him for all of lap two and the first half of lap three. I could tell that he was still in a little pain. Despite his pain, we maintained a pretty fast pace and I had an absolute blast following his wheel. I did have one small episode that got my attention during lap two. We were rolling along on trail 105 and hit one of the longer bridges. As I rolled onto the bridge, my front tire washed out on me and I was able to catch it before I got dumped off of the side of the bridge. I had about 23 psi of pressure in the front and rear tires and thought that I might have burped a little air out of the front tire. I scared the crap out of myself as I thought that I was going to take a flyer off of the side of the bridge!
Cyclocross Hill is all about momentum...if you don't got it you'll be huckin' your bike up the hill.
Shadowing Brian up Cyclocross Hill on lap 2.
Throughout the first half of lap 3, our pace was beginning to slow a little. We rolled through 304 and as we neared the end, I decided that if I was going to try and win this thing, I would need to take over the pace sooner rather than later. As we exited 304, I took over the lead and as I passed, Brian told me that he had nothing left. I opened a pretty good gap going through 305 and as I approached trail 101 I was starting to feel the effects of my effort. I backed the pace off a little to try and recover. I also tried to take it a little easier around corners for fear of my front tire washing out on me again.
Topping Cyclocross Hill for the last time on the way to my 1st 'W' at Sugar.
I managed to keep my lead and ended up winning for the first time ever at Sugar Bottom with a time of 2:22:07. Brian held on for 2nd with a time of 2:23:55. Shim made the trip from Omaha and brought home 3rd with a time of 2:33:11. Kevin McConnell came in 4th with a time of 2:36:08 and WWJ rounded out the top five with a time of 2:38:17. Brian’s wife Kim won the women’s race by a pretty good margin over Robin Williams. It’s always great to see more women show at mountain bike races. We’ve had a few more than usual show up at the last few races, I hope the trend continues!
The folks at ICORR did an excellent job with the race and it looked like everybody had a great time enjoying the awesome trails and the near perfect weather!
Julie is always happy, but she is especially happy when she is with me at a mountain bike race!
Next up is the rain date for IMBCS #3 and the Psycowpath race at Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs. This will be the series finale for both the IMBCS and Psycowpath and should be a pretty big event if the weather holds.
Thanks for reading,