Photos courtesy of T-Bone and MOD / Anne
Somehow all of the rain that central Iowa received managed to slide either north or south of Platte River State Park in Nebraska yielding near perfect trail conditions for the 2nd race of the Psycowpath Series. It was another great day to be in the Midwest with temps in the 60’s and lower 70’s throughout the day with little to no cloud cover.
Julie and I loaded up the Jeep and hit the road bright and early for the 2+ hour journey to Platte River State Park, just west of Omahole, NE. The trails at Platte River are some of the sweetest mountain biking trails in the region, lot’s of tight, twisty singletrack, lot’s of climbing and a lot of roller coaster sections where course knowledge translates to a lot sweet, undulating terrain where momentum will send you rocketing up a lot of the climbs. I wanted to get there early enough to give Julie a chance to ride a lap and get a few portions of the course figured out. This was her 2nd Category 2 race and her first time racing on the course at the same time as the Pro / Category 1 field. During my recon lap, I immediately noticed that things within me were much better than last weekend. I was handling the bike a little better and the bike was handling me a little better. No back tire rub and the big ring made itself available upon command. I took my bike into Rassy’s last week and Sterling helped bleed the brakes. Greg and Sterling also gave me a few pointers in adjusting the front der, so she was dialed and ready to roll. As always, the guys at Rassy’s are the best of the best, going above and beyond expectations to keep me rollin’!
As high noon approached, 26 Pro / Cat 1 racers including the usual suspects as well as several new faces toed the start line. The ref blew the start whistle and we were off. It took me a few seconds to get clipped in and I managed to salvage 5th wheel going up the initial climb. About half way up the climb and I scooted by Shim and another dude, can’t remember who he was as I was a little crossed-eyed at the moment. I settled into 3rd on Kent’s wheel while Nate Woodman led the way up the remainder of the climb.
Nate leading the train up the first climb.
Nate still leading the way with Kent in tow.
We hit the singletrack in that order and the pace over the first half lap was pretty casual. I took a look back a few times and noticed a long train of my fellow competitors lined up behind me. As soon as we hit the upper pasture I pulled off line and accelerated to the front. Kent followed suit and I think Aaron Elwell jumped onto Kent’s wheel.
Takin' a swig of H2O, check out MIB, he's fixin' to pass me.
WWJ says hi!
I upped the pace and the train behind us began to split apart and at the end of lap 1 it was myself, Kent and Aaron with a gap back to 4th. We hit the initial climb again and I hit it pretty hard, scaling the first half of the climb in the big ring. As we hit the top, I took a look back and noticed that Aaron was gone. It was now down the Kent and I….sweet! It was starting to look like another showdown between MIB and myself. I held onto the lead over the first half of the lap with Kent in tow. At some point during the lap, I looked down and noticed my water bottles and reminded myself to focus a little harder on hydration. As we hit the upper pasture, I took a big swig of water and just before we re-entered the singletrack, Kent shot past me and took the lead. I jumped onto his wheel and prepared myself for the fun ride that I usually have whenever I follow his lead.
Leading Kent and Aaron through the rock garden.
Steve exiting the rock garden.
Kevin was kind enough to show us how not to ride the rock garden.
About ¾ of the way through lap two, Kent suddenly slowed and I could tell that he had dropped a few cylinders. He told me to go ahead and that he was cramping up. I went by and upped the effort a little just in case he was able to pull it back together. I continued the effort until the end of lap 2. As I passed through the start finish area, I took a look back and didn’t see anybody. I scurried up the climb at a pretty good effort with intent on padding my lead. Every once in a while I’d lose focus and back off on the pace a little, however the loss of focus was short lived because there were a lot of fast cats behind me that could challenge for the ‘W’.
I kept the pressure on and the remainder of the race was pretty uneventful, aside from having a great time riding some of the sweetest singletrack available in the Midwest! I managed to hang on for the win with a time of 1:44:44. Steve Jarrett continued is great start to the season with a hard earned 2nd place in 1:45:48. A couple of new faces from the Kansas City area, Aaron Elwell and Shad Shreiner made trip up and brought home 3rd and 4th in 1:46:43 and 1:47:03 respectively. Jesse Peterson rounded out the top five with a time of 1:47:43.
Julie also had a great day and pulled off her first win in the Category 2 women’s class. She was all smiles during and after the race. She had also mentioned that all of the Pro / Cat 1’s that passed her did so patiently, so a big thank you goes to all that passed. Things like that go a long way towards keeping people involved in the great sport of mountain bike racing!
Next up for me is most likely going to be the 1st race of the year for the Minnesota series in Inver Grove Heights or the WORS season opener at Iola this Sunday. I was kinda torn between that and the 3.5 / 7 of Seven Oaks. Right now I need to focus a little less on long hours as I am a little less than a month from my first peak period of the year. I need to get in the intensity and speed of a normal distance XC racing as that is my focus for the season. If you’re lookin’ to do some racing this weekend, I would strongly encourage you to head up to Seven Oaks. The boys of Singletrack Promotions put in a lot of long hours getting the trails ready and they always do a great job.
Thanks for reading,