Monday, May 18, 2009

Inver Grove Heights

Photos courtey of Skinny Ski and my female.

Eat my dust.

With the forecast looking good for Minnesota all weekend, Julie and I decided to head up to Inver Grove Heights in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area for the first MNSCS race of the season. Julie and I headed up to Inver Grove Saturday early enough to recon the course. As we approached the Twin Cities, we could tell that it was going to be pretty dry as the hurricane force winds were kickin’ up all kinds of dust and petrified livestock droppings from the bone dry fields on the way up.
We arrived at the course and as expected, there were already several others checking out the course. I ended up doing four recon laps with hope of getting the course somewhat dialed in. It was a pretty sweet course and it reminded me a lot of Denmans’s in DSM, or maybe Swanson / Manawa in the Omahole area. Pretty flat, very tight, very serpentine, complete with lot’s of dry, loose, sandy corners. I remember talking with Julie after our recon and I told her that it should favor the locals and that I didn’t expect to do all that well because it didn’t really suit my strengths. I was also at the tail end of a heavy three week block of training and my legs were feeling pretty flat.
We woke up race day morning to what was looking to be an absolutely beautiful day. I decided to step out of my (cereal) box and opted out of eating my usual pre race box of cereal. Instead we headed to a local grocer, Byerly’s and I stuffed a bunch of eggs, pancakes, sausage, toast and coffee down my pie hole…man was it good! I grabbed a turkey sandwich to top of the tank as race time approached if needed.
Julie’s race started at 11, and it was her 2nd Cat 2 race of the year. A total of 14 women toed the line. Julie is still learning the ropes to this whole mountain bike racing thing and still tends to take it easy at the start, especially in a race of this magnitude. So the race started and she brought up the rear as the field rolled into the singletrack for their three lap race.

Julie has enough skizlzzllz to roll over very large boulders.

She also has enough skizlzzllz to rail a corner.

It didn’t take long for her to work her way up to the sharp end of the field. By lap two she was sitting in 6th place and closing in on the next two women real quick like. As she neared the end of lap two, she had managed to claw her way up to 4th and ended up duking it out with a chick on a cross bike for the remainder of the race. She ended up in a three way sprint finish and ended up 2nd in the sprint, good enough for 4th overall and 2nd in her age group. She ended up about two minutes behind the overall winner and a scant 1 second behind 1st in her age group. A great result on a course like Inver Grove! I think that she’s caught the mountain bike racing bug, on the way home she looked at me, smiled and thanked me for getting her into mountain bike racing…yeah baby!

Julie duking it out with the cyclocross chick.

By the time my race had started, it was in the upper 60’s with light winds and bright sunshine. All of the usual suspects were there, Brendan Moore, the Oftedahl brothers, the father/son duo of Jay and Jake Richards, Doug Swanson, Paul Hanson and Jesse Reints among others. There were a total of 45 men, 10 of which were pro’s. I had my usual mediocre start and ended up somewhere in the 20’s going into the singletrack. Passing was pretty difficult and I had to keep reminding myself to be patient. I picked off quite a few racers throughout lap one and eventually tagged onto the tail end of a train of racers that included Jay, Jake, the Oftedahls, Jesse, Hollywood and a couple of others.

The start of the Pro / Cat 1 race, 45 cats strong...I'm in there somewhere.

Race winner Brendan Moore takin' the bull by the horns.

This is what Doug Swanson looked like before he rolled a tire.

As we began lap two I passed a couple of cats and took my place in line going into the singletrack. I glued myself to the wheel in front of me and patiently waited for the next opportunity to pass. As lap two progressed, I managed to work my way through the group and took the lead going into the singletrack at the beginning of lap three. I kept the pressure on and managed to gap everybody but Eric Oftedahl.

Taking my place in line near the start of lap two.

Jay Richards of Mapelag rippin' it up through one of the many loose corners.

As lap three continued I managed to open up a small gap on Eric and was closing in on Scott Hebel. I eventually caught and passed Scott and at some point during the lap, I thought that I heard somebody tell me that I was maybe in 5th. Sweet! I didn’t really expect to do all that well, however I was feelin’ the love and I was handling the bike pretty well. I could see the next two racers ahead of me, Doug Swanson and Jack Hinkens. I kept my focus and turned the screws a little tighter knowing that I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to gain any ground on them.

Jack the Ripper unleashing his fury.

Hollywood doin’ his thing on a fully rigid.

Rippin’ it up down a sweet section of singletrack.

Rocketing around one of the many bermed corners.

I sometimes look like I’m angry, however I can assure you that I am in my happy place when racing off road.

I could tell that I was closing in on Jack, however Doug was a little further up the trail and I couldn’t tell where he was after a while. By this time, Comp traffic began to thicken and it was pretty difficult to make time on Jack when trying to get around Comp racers. As I neared the end of the race, I was quickly closing in on Jack, however I came up about 8 seconds short of catching him. Brendan Moore ended up winning the race with a time of 1:27:42. Jack was 2nd in 1:30:12, I was 3rd in 1:30:20, EricO was 4th in 1:31:27 and SamO rounded out the top 5 in 1:31:32. Yes, I was very surprised and stoked with my result! I’d like to think that 2nd overall would have been possible if the race were a little longer and it would be easy to place part of the blame on lapped traffic, however Jack had to go through the same traffic that I did. So it is what it is and it’s all a part of mountain bike racing. Aside from that, Jack rode a great race. I was told that he’s 17 and fairly new to mountain bike racing. He has a ton of potential and should be one to watch in the future.

The Shockstar made the trip up from Decorah and had a pretty solid race.

Women’s race winner Jenna Reinhardt (Specialized) putting the women’s field into the pain cave.

Next up is the infamous Snake Alley Criterium in Burlington, IA. Like last year, I plan to do the 40+ and 30+ races and avoid the traffic jam of the P/1/2 race. If the rain holds off I’m in, however if it rains, I’ll be on sidelines watching all of action.

Thanks for reading,


1 comment:

Christine said...

Nice racing Julie! Hope to see you guys this way soon ! Heading up to Rhinelander this weekend. there is room for you guys at the cabin.