Sunday, August 22, 2010

Border Battle

Damp and tacky…the best mountain bike racing conditions that one could ask for. That was the condition of the course during Saturday’s recon ride, though rain was forecasted at some point during the overnight hours. I wasn’t too worried about it though as the course in River Falls seems to handle precipitation really well. Julie and I stayed at my Uncles house in the Twin Cities area and sure enough, at some point in the middle of the night, the rumbling of thunder brought us out of a deep slumber.
We showed up at the course to sweltering heat and humidity and almost immediately noticed all of the mud covered bikes from the Citizens race. The Sport racers bikes looked a little better and gave me a little more optimism for our race. I’m not real fond of muddy races, I’ve done plenty of them in the past and find them more of a pain in the arse than anything else. The long drive home with muddy bikes and clothes stowed away in the back of the car makes the car smell like a hog confinement lot by the time we get home.
Once again, WORS ringleader Don Edberg was kind enough to give me a 2nd row call up by virtue of my Pro license. Though I realize that I am far from being a real Pro, having the license definitely has it’s benefits, one of those being call ups at the WORS and Minnesota races where the Elite category routinely has 50 or more starters.
Don said ‘Gooooooooooooo’, and off we went. I got off to a pretty decent start, probably sitting somewhere in the top 20 going up the hill. The first half of the course doesn’t really suit my riding strengths very well, and that happened to be where all of the mud was. There were a couple of small mud bogs in the first open field section, and some of the tight, twisty sections at the beginning were pretty greasy with some snot covered roots to add to the challenge. Another small perk was the first bridge crossing, a narrow bridge spanning a short, man eating gully. The bridge isn’t the real challenge however, it’s the rock placement before the bridge the messes with a lot of people. It’s challenging enough when its dry, however today the rocks had a nice coating of snot on them, which I heard led to a lot of people falling into the deep abyss beneath the bridge. The second half of the course was pretty close to perfect and boasts some of the fastest, flowy singletrack that I’ve ever had the pleasure of rolling my wheels over.
Throughout the race, I got passed by a few and passed a few others. Scott KJ went flying by me somewhere near the beginning of the first lap and left me for the buzzards. When the conditions are technical and muddy, Scott transforms into superman and absolutely flies through all of the tough sections. I wish that I had half of his ability to handle the bike. About midway through the race, I finally began to settle into a good rhythm and had a few really fun battles with Chad Sova, Barry Tingseth, Neil Swanson and a couple of others. Barry led the way through most of the tight, twisty sections. His selection of lines were superb and I had a great time riding behind him and Chad.
On the last lap, we hit the last open section at the top of the hill, I kicked into the big ring and passed Barry and motioned to him to grab onto my wheel in an attempt to do my share of the work. By then we had lost Chad and Neil and we wanted to keep it that way! When I hit the singletrack, I took a quick look back and had lost Barry. So I kept the pressure on to the end of the race and managed to hold him off for….16th overall? I thought that I might have done a little better, however I’m not too surprised as the first half of the course really slowed me down due to the mud. After looking at the final results, I actually feel OK about the result as the field was pretty stacked with a lot of the best racers in the Midwest. So in the end, it was a pretty good day. The mud and heat slowed me down a little, but I still had a great time….I love racing my mountain bike…

My dirty girl makes me purr.

Julie had a pretty rough day, she’s not real crazy about the mud or the heat. She finished her race and rolled up to the car with mud spattered all over her and had that look on her face that asked the question, ‘why in the hell do I do this???’. I know it’s largely because of me, but I also know that she really enjoys it for the most part. I really do have it good…Also, just in case you didn’t know, we’re getting’ hitched in September. Yep, I finally found somebody who’s willing to put up with all of my nonsense…

Thanks for reading,


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