Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Science Center / Branched Oak

Photos courtesy of Angy Snoop

What was supposed to have been a dirty double, turned into something a little more demanding. The Psycowpath race at Branched Oak was rained out on Saturday and rescheduled to the following Sunday. So Julie and I had a decision to make, do we make the trip to Nebraska and skip the IMBCS races, or vice versa? We both needed the points for both series, so we mulled it over for a while and finally figured out that we could do the morning TT at the Science Center, provided we were able to be the first two starters. If we could get on the road by 10, we could make it to Branched Oak by 1, with an hour to spare for the 2 o’clock start of the Psycowpath race…Game on brutha!
So the day started off with the TT, which used the Hillside and Rollercoaster trails of the Science Center. As I was getting ready for my start, the race director, Ryan Hanser, threw a couple of curve balls in my direction. They were running the course backwards and we were doing two laps. I was expecting a short 15-ish minute effort, which turned into a 35-ish minute effort. I had myself dialed into doing a lap in what is traditionally the ‘right’ direction whenever we race on the Hillside. I also wanted to try and pace myself so that I could have as much in the tank as possible for the afternoon pain fest.
I was given the go ahead and I took off like I stole somethin’. I hit the trails and felt like I was riding well and within myself. With nobody in front of me, I was able to focus on the trail and nothing else. I completed my first lap and as I rolled through, Padawan Gammel was sitting at the start line getting to roll out. As I was cruising through the Hillside, I kept hearing something a short distance behind me. I couldn’t tell who it was, but I suspected it was the young Padawan attempting to bridge up to his Jedi Master teacher. This forced me to go a little harder than I wanted because I couldn’t allow my pupil to overtake me.

Julie using her skisszzllss that she learned at my women's mtb clinic.

I think that I had a Dio tune goin' through my head when this picture was that look on my face.

Throughout the 2nd lap, I encountered some slower traffic, however it was never really an issue. As I exited the Hillside and rolled towards the Rollercoaster, I could tell that the Padawan had slowed a little. I backed off on the throttle a scosh, and rolled to the finish. Julie and I had to take off as soon as we finished, so I’m not 100% sure of the results yet, however I heard that I nipped Jed by a scant 5 seconds. He accused me of sandbagging, however it wasn’t nearly as much as he thought. I worked pretty hard, harder than I wanted to. The Padawan’s form is coming along nicely this year and he’s riding stronger than I’ve ever seen. It’s really too bad that he got snubbed for Chequamegon this year because I think that he’d tear it up. I’m pretty sure that Julie had a good race too, though neither of us have any idea how she did. I knew that she’d have a good race, she rode everything the day before without much trouble. There are a few sections that can be pretty tricky and she handled them like a champ.

Padawan Gammell...close but no cigar.

Seabiscuit got drunk after his race and decided to give out Mad Dog handups at the creek crossing.

We loaded our crapage back into the car and high tailed it to Nebraska. As the drive progressed, we could both feel the post race rigor mortise setting into our legs. I had no idea what to expect once we arrived at Branched Oak.
We made it with an hour to spare, got ourselves registered and suited up for a recon lap. The course was pretty straight forward with no real technical sections to worry about. There were several sections that were very bumpy, bumpy enough that I feared I it might knock a few of my fillings loose.
The race started and JP took the hole shot, followed closely by Kent and myself. Whenever we hit a hill, JP would punch it and it eventually wore on everybody but myself, Kent, Darin Schlake and John Rokke. As we began lap two, Darin took over the lead, followed by JP, Kent, myself and Rokke. I was pretty content to sit in as I didn’t have to work that hard and I still wasn’t really sure which pair of legs came with me to Nebraska, the same pair that I used this morning, or the other pair that usually sends me to the hurt locker.
As we approached the end of lap three, the inevitable happened, Kent took over the lead and immediately upped the pace. Small gaps began to form between Darin and JP while I was still sitting in 4th. At the first opportunity, I passed both of them and latched onto Kent’s wheel. We gradually gapped ourselves from the three locals and it was shaping up to be another epic battle between myself and Kent.
Kent led throughout lap 4 and I was surprisingly able to hang onto his wheel without too much trouble. As we rolled through the feed zone, Kent slowed to take another bottle from his soigner, I think that’s why he brought his kids along. At the end of the race, I thought that I saw his son giving him a post race massage like the European professional cyclists get, while his daughter was loading up the car for the trip back to Omaha. Maybe I need to get myself a couple of kids…While Kent took his hand up, I rolled by and took over the lead.
I actually felt pretty good and thought I was maintaining pretty close to the same pace that we had done the previous lap. As the lap progressed, I could tell that I was creating a little separation between us every once in a while. So I decided to up the pace a little to see if I could gap him off and make it stick. Over the latter half of lap 5 the gap increased and I started to feel pretty good about how things were shaking out. There were a couple of spots on the course where it doubled back on itself where, for a short while, I was able to see him and track my progress. When I could no longer see him, I put into cruise control and kept my good eye on what was going on behind me.
As I began the final lap, my legs decided that it was getting close to Miller time. Despite my legs rebellion, I kept the pressure on and survived to take the win. Shortly after I rolled across the line, I quickly began to realize the extent of my fatigue. My body felt like I had gotten run over by a train. The bumpiness of the course took its toll on me, my arms were just as trashed as my legs…a full body beat down. Even though it wasn’t a very technical course, it was still a pretty physically demanding course and I enjoy courses like that.
Julie also survived the day, when Kent and I rolled passed her during the race, I felt her pain as she was riding the ‘goose. A 1998 ti frame with a vintage 2000 Rock Shox fork. I remember back when I used to race on that bike. On a course like this, I used to get the crud knocked out of me, it felt like I was riding a fully rigid bike with solid rubber tires. She was not a happy camper when she finished her race. However she did manage to lock up the Cat 2 women’s points for the series, so that made the visit to the pain cave worth it for her.

Next up is a big one, Chequamegon. Hopefully I can get myself recovered enough to top my effort from last year. Two races in one day was probably not the most ideal thing to do the weekend before one of my ‘A’ races. However it had to be done in order to defend my series titles for Iowa and Nebraska. That’s my crazy lifestyle and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Thanks for reading,


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