Photos courtey of Dana Schoppe and Jay Richards
After crashing out of the WORS race last weekend, I was looking for a little redemption this weekend. I’ve been racing my mountain bike for around 11 years now and after all of that time, an experience like I had last weekend still seemed to have a small effect on my psyche. I drove up to Mankato the day before the race to get a good recon ride in and when I arrived at the venue, I noticed a few people that had just finished riding. I couldn’t help but notice some mud packed on their tires, one guy even said that the ride went a lot worse for him than he had expected. I took a look around and noticed mostly dry pavement, with the exception of where some water was running off of the roof of the lodge. Apparently it had just rained earlier that morning and there were a few sections of trail that were still pretty slimy. I thought about scrapping the ride and hitting the paved bike path for a ride instead. However that thought was short lived as I drove up here today to ride on the dirt, even if it meant riding through some mud. The trail ended up being mostly damp with a few greasy spots. After the ride I knew the course would dry quickly enough that conditions would be close to ideal for tomorrows’ race.
Flesh eating roots.
Mt. Kato singletrack goodness.
Ridin' this stuff will put a smile on anybody's face.
On race day, I arrived with plenty of time to take my time getting ready and also get a good warm up in. We lined up for the start with all of the usual suspects for a MNSCS race, with 10 Pros and around 40 Cat 1’s ready to do some ragin’. Again, I was determined to get a better than usual start ended up in the second row behind Brendan Moore. He’s got the hole shot thing dialed in and if you’re stuck in the 2nd row, it’s a good wheel to follow. I got off to a pretty good start and as we started up the hill, I was somewhere in the top ten.
BS'n with Minnesota top dog Brendan Moore. I can't beat him on the bike, so I tried engaging in psycological warfare to get an edge. It didn't work.
Sweet atmosphere at the start of the Pro / Cat 1 race.
50+ Pro / Cat 1 racers gettin' all kinds of crazy at the start.
The Pro / Cat 1 death march snaking its' way up the hill.
Eventual men's race winner Jason Sager.
As we hit the top of the climb I ended up going into the woods in around 7th, behind a train of three riders. I settled in with the hope of getting myself a little recovery time from the massive effort from the start. After a short while, I felt recovered enough to begin my quest closer to the sharp end of the field. I worked my way past the three cats that were directly in front of me and as I was progressing, I caught an occasional glimpse of Jesse Reints up the trail. I put my head down and turned the screws as tightly as I could without blowing myself up. It took the better part of two laps to finally reel Jesse in and throughout the effort, I could see a couple of others a short distance behind me. Just the way I like it, close racing in front of and behind me!
Fellow Iowegion Shockstar had a stellar race finishing 17th overall.
As we were negotiating our way through a section of trail called The Maze, I asked Jesse if we were sitting 2 / 3. He said that we were 3 /4, so I asked who was in front of us. He said the Brendan was in 2nd and Sager was leading…. Sager! What the H is he doing here! Jesse apologized and said that he brought him. For those that don’t know, Jason Sager is a regular at all of the National Series races and has been known to post some pretty stout results. That’s one of the fun things about MNSCS and WORS races, you never know who’s going to show up.
My intention was to stay on Jesse’s wheel long enough to recover from the monster effort that it took to reel him in, however after a lap of following his wheel, my tongue was still hangin’ out of my mouth and my heart was still trying to jump out of my throat. At this point, the lapped traffic from the Comp field was pretty thick and I had to really bury myself at times to stay on Jesse’s wheel when passing through the lappers. For whatever reason, it was a little more difficult than normal to get through some of the lapped traffic. It was probably just more bad timing than usual with hitting traffic during some of the tighter sections of trail. However I’m not 100% on that theory as I wasn’t seeing very clearly at the time.
Chillin' in the shade.
Jesse is brandishing his manly chest. He forgot to wear his VW hubcap necklace.
About midway through the last lap, we were going up a pretty steep climb and Jesse began to inch away from me. I tried to close it back up and my legs wanted none of it. I backed it off a little until I hit the top of the climb and took a few seconds to recover. I hit the throttle again once the trail flattened out. By then Jesse was out of sight for the most part. I pretty much buried myself in an attempt to bring him back and also keep Sam O from reeling me in. On some sections of the course, I could tell that he wasn’t far behind me. I kept the pressure on until the end and came up about 6 seconds short of bringing Jesse back.
I ended up 4th on the day 6 seconds behind Jesse. Sager won and had just over 4 minutes on me at the finish. Brendan’s 3 race win streak came to an end and ended up in 2nd. My goal for the day was to equal or better last years 2nd place finish, however I still consider today a big success. Any time that I can bag a top 5 finish in a MNSCS or WORS race, well I have to be happy with that. I had a great time duking it out with Jesse, he rode a great race and he deserved a good finish. I remember back when I first started racing in the expert class in WORS and MNSCS races, he was always a regular in the top ten. So it’s great to see him finally find his form again. This result was also the shot in the arm that I needed after last weekends debacle, so even though I probably never lost track, I definitely feel like I’m back on track.
Next up is my annual 2 week training camp in good ole’ Colorado. Julie and I will be heading to Breckenridge for the marathon National Championships on the 4th. We’ll spend a couple of days at her brothers place in Vail, and then off to Durango for the remainder. I’ll probably head up to Sol Vista for the cross country nationals, however I doubt that I’ll race because I’ll be pretty cooked after a couple of 30 hour training weeks. I’ll try to do daily posts while I’m out there, so if you’re interested, stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,