Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Border Battle

Photos courtesy of Jay Richards and Julie

Mountain bike racing in the Midwest simply doesn’t get any better than WORS or MNSCS races. Both series do a top notch job of creating a fun, electric atmosphere at all of their races. What could possibly be better? How about combining both series into one race! That’s what the Border Battle is all about. You get the best of both series, especially when it comes to the competition. Even though I routinely get my butt kicked by the top dogs in both series, I love coming up.
Julie and I headed up Saturday morning to get a good recon in of the course and were greeted with close to perfect course conditions. Last year the course was very dry and dusty, which made for some pretty slippery corners. This year, even though it had been dry, recent rain had made all of the shaded areas very fast. After our recon we hit the grocery store for some grub. Last year, we’ve kinda gotten ourselves into a bad habit of making sure that we eat some ice cream the night before a race…who am I kidding, we eat ice cream every night. We like the pricey stuff, Haagen Dazs baby! There was slim pickens’ at the local Econofoods, so we had to settle for some Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked.
We stayed at the same cabin with Tyrine and the Scanley’s as last year, and after a nice dinner, I gave Ty a good butt kickin’ in a game of cribbage. While we were playing, it started to rain and it continued on and off throughout the night. We woke up the next morning and I could hear cars driving by on wet pavement. We had no idea what to expect with course conditions, however WORS and MNSCS run rain or shine, so it was go time regardless of the weather or course conditions. As the morning progressed, the skies began to clear and it ended up being a beautiful day for bike racing!
We headed over to the course and watched some of the Cat 3 race and noticed that there was little to no mud on any of the bikes or racers. The only exception was a few dirt skid marks up and down several of the racers bodies from hitting the deck.
Julie’s race was scheduled two hours before mine, so I was able to watch the first part of her race before I had to get ready for mine. She got off to her usual slow start and hit the bottom of the first climb in dead last. By the time she got to the top, she was sitting about mid pack of the 24 strong women’s Category 2 field. After she passed, I rolled over to another section of the course near the end of the lap and she was still sitting in about 12th place overall. She looked like she was riding really well, she looked strong, however I was surprised not to see her higher up in the order. She ended up in 10th overall, good enough for 2nd in her age. I thought that she might have finished a little higher, however she was happy with her result and said she had a great time. So it was all good and as always, I am very proud of well she’s been doing this year!

If you attend my all women’s mtb clinic this fall, you too will learn to fly around corners just like Julie.

Julie got to stand on a box. Check out her shirt, she’s giving the Dirty Du some love.

My race was pretty stacked with the best that the Midwest has to offer and I was very fortunate to get a 2nd row call up in the 70 strong Elite men’s field. I got off to my usual slow start and ended up in around 30th going up the initial climb. By the time I hit the top of the climb, I felt like I was completely gassed. I made a pretty quick recovery and began my pursuit towards the sharp end of the field. I was able to get by several riders after we hit the top of the climb and settled into a good pace as we hit the first section of singletrack. There were a few places where the pace slowed to a crawl due to the usual bottlenecking that takes place at the beginning of big races. Maybe someday I’ll get off to a good start and I’ll be able to avoid the bottlenecks. I’m old and start slowly, so I guess that’s how its’ gonna be for me until I decide to better prepare myself, if that ever happens!

The Don of WORS was kind enough to give me a 2nd row call up. I suck at starts and need all of the help that I can get.


The train of pain flying up the climb at the start of the race. I’m in there somewhere, suffering like an animal.

Check me out, I think that I was still in my happy place despite the severe pain.

I kept passing other competitors throughout the race and I could tell that I was riding pretty well through all of the techie sections. The dirt, for the most part was damp, tacky and very fast. The course was better than yesterday in some places, and a little worse in others. However there was little to no mud. When we hit the open sections, I hit the throttle and was almost always able to pick off at least one rider. When we hit the tight sections where there were no opportunities to pass, I’d settle in on the wheel in front of me and try to recover so that I could open the throttle again in the next open section.

TJ dishin’ out a little pain early in the race.

Towards the end of the race, the lapped traffic from the Comp class and the Elite women was pretty heavy and I had some difficulties in getting by some, however that’s the way that it goes on a course like this. When there was room, I was able to get by without getting held up too much. This happens at almost every WORS and MNSCS race, and those that get passed know what’s going on and do their best to make room, so it’s all good.

Mike Phillips is finding his form quickly after recovering from a knee blowout last spring.

Flying through one of the many fast corners, check out the tread...damp and tacky = mtb goodness.

Cruising down a sweet bridge.

A couple of dirty old men. 40+ fast guy Jeff Melcher and I giving each other a good ole’ fashioned beat down.

To my surprise, I managed to pull off an 8th place overall finish. If you’d have told me during my warm up that I would crack the top ten today, I would have laughed at you. My legs felt like crap during my warm up and it was all that I could do to get my HR over 160. My average HR for the race was 170, which was also a big surprise based on how my warm up went. I had just finished two pretty heavy build weeks of training and my legs were heavy from the efforts. At the same race last year, it was the same deal, tired legs which resulted in 15th overall, about 8:30 behind the winner. Today I was only 4:30 behind the winner, so I might be able to take that as a sign that I might be a little faster this year.

Race winner Marko Lalonde made the switch from the Dark Side riding a geared bike.

Despite having a good race, I didn’t get to stand on a box this time.

Marko Lalonde continued his stellar season with another win over a strong field, followed closely by TJ Woodruff. Mikey Phillips is continuing his recovery from and early season injury and making some great progress as he finished in 3rd, followed by Brendan Moore with Jesse Lalonde rounding out the top five. Full results can be found here.
While we were standing on the podium, some dude called me the ninja racer. I suppose it was because I kinda snuck up on him in the singletrack, then passed him in one of the open sections. Maybe it was also because of the all black Rassy kit and the mostly black Orbea Oiz. Whatever the reason, several of us got a good laugh out of it…

Next up is the 8th race of the IMBCS at Seven Oaks Ski Area near Boone, IA. Race director Ron DeGeest of Singletrack Promotions is pretty much a one man band and doing it all himself this year. Reports from last weekend are that the trails are in great shape and good to go for this weekend. I’m hoping for a good turn out as Ron has been working his butt off to put together a great event for this weekend!

Thanks for reading,



Christine said...

Nice hanging with you cats this weekend. Tell Julie nice pics!

Karmen said...

Question for Julie about 7 Oaks. Are you able to do the whole course without walking any of the hills. I can't yet and want to know if it is a realistic goal to be able to. I'm a relative newbie, but not a total newbie.

Rasmussen Bike Shop said...

Julie rode most of the course, and yes it would be a very realistic goal to clean the entire course. So keep trying, it'll happen sooner that you think!