Friday, June 05, 2009

Lewis and Clark / Summerset

Photos courtesy of a bunch of different cats.

Brutha Squirrel and I early in the Summerset race.

Man…what a weekend! Two mountain bike races on two awesome courses... The weekend started off with a solo trip to Council-tucky for the Psycowpath race at Lewis and Clark Monument. Julie has a running group that she was coaching / training for the Dam To Dam running race, so she ended up staying in Des Moines to do the run. Running….the only time that I ever run is if I’m being chased by the law. Thankfully I have enough sense to keep my nose clean enough to avoid any run-ins with the law.
It had been a couple of years since I last raced at L&C. Last year it was cancelled due to some issues with a part of the course routing through some private property. As always, the Psycowpath folks did a great job in dealing with a difficult situation and came up with a good solution with a little re-routing of the old course. I did a quick recon lap and was quite happy to discover that the dirt was pretty close to perfect for mountain bike racing!
The usual suspects lined up at the start less a few folks from Lincoln. Jesse lost his mind a got married on the day of a mountain bike race, so Jesse and Woodman remained in Lincoln and were probably three sheets to the wind by the time we were racing. The race started on a long, uphill gravel road and Holeshot Limpach took the lead. I grabbed his wheel and let him tow me up the hill. By the time we hit the top he had pretty much blown his wad. So I took control of the race and as I passed him I could see that he had ridden himself cross-eyed through his sunglasses. I ended up leading the way into the singletrack followed closely by Kent McNeill and Steve Jarrett.
I didn’t really want the lead quite yet as my plan was to follow Kent or Steve for a lap…I can always ride technical singletrack a little more quickly when I follow them because they’re really good at finding all of the good, fast lines through everything. The three of us stayed together for most of the first lap until we hit the infamous climb dubbed ‘Neverest’. Neverest is long and steep enough that it will reduce most cats to their granny gear. As we approached the climb, I locked both ends of the bike out and hit it pretty hard to see how Kent and Steve would react. I was able to open up a small gap by the time we hit the top. It was enough of a gap that I needed to make a pretty quick decision as to whether I wanted to try and stay away, or back it off and save it for later knowing that I had another race in Iowa the next day.

Leading the way pushin' Mach 4 down Neverest.

I put in a half hearted effort to maintain the gap going down the hill and the gap stuck. I think that Kent might have taken a wrong turn back at the top of the hill, so that gained me a few more seconds. I decided to keep the pressure on knowing the Kent and Steve would be a little quicker than I was through the singletrack. As the lap progressed I could tell that Kent was closing in on me a little, however I still had a pretty good gap when I hit Neverest on the second lap. I hit Neverest pretty hard again, knowing that it was the locale of my biggest advantage. It was pretty much the same deal for laps three and four and by the end of lap four, I could no longer see Kent or Steve. So I backed off on the effort a little to try and save myself for the next days race. I ended up bringin’ home the bacon with about a minute advantage over Kent. Steve brought home 3rd another couple of minutes back followed by Holeshot Limpach with Shim rounding out the top five.
It was another great day of racing with some good peeps. Rox and her posse did a great job, as always, with the race, so a big thank you to them for all of their hard work!

Sunday, Summerset State Park….what can I say about that place to give it justice? If you did the race or have ridden the course, you’d know what I’m talking about. The folks with CITA worked their butts for four years building all of the trails from scratch, only to have some of them wiped away last year with flooding. The best way to describe the trails…if you’ve ever ridden the Telegraph Trails in Durango, that’s pretty much the first half of the course without the lung bursting climbs. The second half of the course was all very fast, big ring trail and pavement. It was one of the more diverse courses that I’ve raced on with a nice mix of everything that makes for a great race course.

Squirrel took the holeshot and celebrated by hopping over a log.

In the days leading up to the race, my bro Squirrel had expressed a very strong desire to lead the way into the singletrack. I was thinking about the holeshot for myself, however I knew that he wouldn’t hold me up because of the technical nature of the first half lap of the course. So that’s how the start shook out, Squirrel lead the way into the woods with me on his wheel. We stayed together and separated ourselves from everybody else pretty quickly and as soon as we hit the first opportunity for passing, I took over the lead and never looked back.
I found myself handling the really technical sections well and didn’t have any mishaps despite the mistakes that typically come on a course like this at race pace.

Kinda reminds me of Durango, CO.

Buff singletrack.

I started hitting lapped traffic during the 2nd of five laps and never really experienced any difficulties in getting by anybody. At some point during lap three, I had caught up to Julie on one of the more technical sections and much to my pleasure, rode her wheel for a short while. She rode the stuff like a seasoned veteran and negotiated Fuller’s drop like she had done it a thousand times before.
I was fortunate enough to take my second win of the weekend despite tired legs from the previous days abuse of 3,500 feet of climbing at Lewis and Clark. Squirrel’s technical prowess netted him a hard earned 2nd place finish followed by singlespeeder Josh Shively, who made the trip from LaCrosse, WI.

Yep, we have mountains in Iowa. If you look closely, you can see Julie at the top.

My studly female kickin’ it on the drop.

If you put a wheel wrong here you’ll be takin’ a bath.

Julie keeping it rubber side down on one of the many off camber sections.

Click here for a pretty sweet video that Piggy made.

CITA did a great job in creating a great race course as well as a fun atmosphere around the start finish area. It was pretty obvious that, despite all of the crashes evident from all of the scrapes and dirty skid marks on a lot of the participants, everybody had a great time before, during and after the race.

Next up….I’m on the fence with either IMBCS #4 at Ida Grove or the WORS race up in Wausau. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback on the Ida Grove course. Race Director Jesse Bergman indicated that it has the type of soil that it could handle some rain up until the start and still be in good shape for racing. On the other hand, Wausau has always been one of my favorite WORS race courses and it’s been a few years since I’ve been there. It’s probably gonna be a game time decision.

Thanks for reading,


No comments: