After nearly a month off from racing, it was time to blow the cobwebs off of the race bike. I really had no idea what to expect from my legs, though I wasn’t really all that concerned about it. I was pretty excited to get back into race mode and all of my other concerns fell to the wayside.
I drove up to Ames to hang out with Julie for the weekend and we got some good rides in and around town on Friday and Saturday before the race. Sunday morning, we loaded up the Jeep and made the 2 hour drive up to Camp Ingawanis. I had talked to the race director, Rob Walters, earlier in the week and he had indicated that they had temporarily lost access to the northern section of trails due to some logging operation that was going on. This got me a little concerned about the course, as the majority of the trails were on the northern part of the property. They did manage to squeeze about 4 ½ miles of trail out of the southern section and when I did my recon lap, my concerns about the coursed quickly disappeared. They put together a pretty sweet course that made the 2 hour drive well worth it.
We lined up for the start and I bagged the holeshot, though I kinda sensed that the remainder of the Pro / Cat 1 field kinda conceded the holeshot to me. I didn’t get clipped in right away and had gotten off to a mediocre start. I should have gotten blown away at the start, however that didn’t happen.
I lead the way into the singletrack and knew that I would have a long train of riders behind me for a while. The nature of the trails were such that there were little to no sections that provided that ‘natural selection’ element that I always look for as a means of creating a gap between myself and the competition.
About midway through lap 1 I had managed to gap everybody less one person. That one person was glued to my wheel and I could tell by the way that he was riding that he was going to turn himself inside out to stay there. I had no idea who it was over the first couple of laps, however it didn’t really matter. I could only go so fast through the tight, twisty sections. So my only other option was to drill it on the open sections and short power climbs in hopes of wearing him down. All of the fast, open sections were short enough that by the time I had gotten myself unwound, it was already time to slow down so that I didn’t overcook the tight corner at the end. All of the climbs were also short enough, that by the time I got my momentum working for me, the trail would begin to level out.
It was probably around the beginning of lap three that I finally figured out that it was Aaron Robinett who was shadowing me. It was also at that same time that I found myself wondering if I was ever going to be able to shake him. I stuck to the plan and continued pushing the pace whenever possible. It wasn’t until we got part way into lap 3 that I sensed he was beginning to tire a little. Even though I couldn’t see, I could tell that there were moments when a small gap would open up between us. For a while, he would close it back up, however about midway through lap 3 the elastic had finally reached its’ breaking point. I kept the pressure on hoping that the gap would stick.
I kept the screws nice and tight throughout the last lap and a half and managed to hold him off by around 30 seconds. Kevin McConnell, Sean Noonan and Trevor Rockwell rounded out the top five. Aaron rode a great race and clearly had a plan of sticking with me, either waiting for me to tire or make a mistake. I rode a pretty good race too, good enough that Aaron’s plan didn’t quite work out this time. However, I don’t think that it will be long before he turns the table on me. I had a great time racing against him, and when he does get the best of me, I’ll be the first to congratulate him. I love good competition and would rather have a closely contested race rather than a blowout.
Julie also had a great race and took her first overall win in the Category 2 class. If she keeps it up, it won’t be long before she’s bangin’ bar ends with Robin Williams and Kim Eppen! Right now she’s riding my old Mongoose hardtail and she’s getting the snot knocked out of her on most of the bumpy sections of trail. Next year she’ll be on a full suspension and she’s only going to get faster!
Next up is another dirty double weekend. On Saturday we’ll be heading to Omaha for next installment of the Psycowpath series. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees with 25 mph winds with 45 mph gusts….my kind of race! On Sunday we’ll be at Lake Ahquabi State Park for IMBCS #7.
Thanks for reading,