Monday, August 17, 2009

The Tranquility / Ahquabi Double

Day one,

Fifty pounds of pasta in a five pound bowl… that’s how I would describe the trails at Tranquility Park in Omaha. Actually, a better description might fifty pounds of pasta in a five pound bowl fresh out of the oven. As Julie and I were driving to the course, a bank thermometerin Omaha had indicated that it was 100 degrees out. I’ve raced in hot weather before, but never this hot.
My legs were a little sore all day yesterday from another hard week of training, so I didn’t really know what to expect from them today. The other unknown was how my body would respond to the searing heat. The race started and the field seemed to more or less concede the hole shot to me as I didn’t really have to work that hard to take it. I lead the way into the woods and it seemed like I was going to do OK with the heat.

Leading the train on spaghetti hill.

Fresh out of the oven! It's so hot that everybodies skin is red.

About midway through the first lap I dropped my chain. As I was struggling to get it back on, Kevin shot by me and gained an immediate gap. I finally got my chain back on and began my pursuit. I finally reeled him back in shortly after the beginning of the second lap and once we hit the myriad of switchbacks he was able to reestablish a gap on me. We hit the open field on a hill and as I began to close the gap my body began to reject the effort. The heat was starting to catch up to me and as a result, I had no significant power when going uphill.
We hit some of the shaded sections of the course and I began to feel a little better. However whenever we hit the sunny sections, my body began to balk at any significant efforts. Throughout the second lap and the beginning of the third lap I kept persisting with effort in an attempt to pull Kevin back, however my body would have none of it. Sometime during the beginning of lap three, I finally began to realize that it wasn’t gonna happen today. So I put myself in survival mode and did what I could to finish and hang onto 2nd overall.
Kevin ended up finishing pretty strong and earned his first, much deserved Psycowpath win. He did his homework in course recon and had little to no trouble with the heat and that’s pretty much what it took to pull off the W. I managed to hold on for 2nd, followed by Jim Winklepeck, Jesse Peterson and Mark Savery. Just finishing was a significant accomplishment today as only 10 of the 17 that started the Pro / Cat 1 race finished.
Julie had another great race and managed to bring home the W in the women’s Cat 2 race. She said that she was able to back the pace off a little once she took the lead in order to save herself a little for tomorrow’s race.

Julie had no trouble with the heat or the spaghetti.

The 'goose was a fast bike for me...and she's a fast bike for Julie.

Day two,

The weather was much better for racing today with temps ranging anywhere from around 80 at the start, to around 90 at the finish. There were even a few moments when there were light sprinkles during the race.
The course at Lake Ahquabi State Park has been likened to the course for the Chequamegon 40, with it being mostly fast, flowing double track. I love racing there because it is very fast for a mountain bike race and makes for excellent Chequamegon preparation.
The race started and I was again given the hole shot. We hit the first climb and about halfway up, Kent Carlson pulled up next to me. I wasn’t really keen on giving up the lead, mostly because he was on a singlespeed and I knew that once we hit the flats, I’d get by him. He was about a wheel ahead of me at the top when he took a wrong turn. He pre-rode the course so he should have known where to go. I think that he’d gotten himself so cross-eyed that he kind of lost his mind at the top of the climb.

Cruisin' into the woods...I love hangin' out in the woods.

For the first half of a lap, I knew that Aaron was on my wheel, however I had no idea what was going on behind him. Shortly after that, I couldn’t hear anybody behind me. I took a look back and my suspicions were confirmed. I had already gapped the field and we still had 4 ½ laps to go. I kept the pressure on as I had no interest in giving anybody a free ride on this draft friendly course.
The remainder of the race was without incident and I managed to grab another win. Padawan Gammell and Aaron ended up duking it out to the bitter end and on the final climb, they managed to crash each other. Aaron managed to gather himself a little more quickly than Jed and took the ‘sprint’ for 2nd with Jed bringing home 3rd. Nate Kullborn brought home 4th and Kent made a nice recovery from his off course excursion to round out the top 5.
Bruce Brown and the MOB crew did another fine job in creating another great IMBCS race. This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites as it is close to home and suits a lot of my strengths really well.
Julie capped off another great weekend with another Cat 2 overall win. I am really anxious to see how she does in the Chequamegon 40, maybe a sub 3 hour race? We’ll find out in a little over a month!

Julie loves hangin' out in the woods too.

Next up is the race coined as the ‘Border Battle’. It’s a joint venture between the WORS and MNSCS series. I got my butt handed to me last year, mostly due to tired legs. I guess I’m kind of expecting the same thing this year as I’m in the middle of a pretty heavy build period. In races up north, the competition is so tight, that I can be a little off my game and I could loose 10 - 15 positions because of it. It’s all good though, if anything, it’ll be a great workout and a lot of fun!

Thanks for reading,


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