Saturday, September 04, 2010
Brian leading the way at the start, his feet are a blur because he's spinning a 250 rpm cadence on his singlespeed.
After a two weekend break from racing, Julie and I were both looking forward to last weekends race at Sugarbottom. Training has been going well and I felt like my fitness was starting to come around, however you never really know for sure until you through it down on the race course.
Julie and I decided to head over to the course on Saturday for a quick preview of what we might expect for Sunday. The course was typical Sugarbottom, lot’s of big, gnarly, exposed roots. Lot’s of chatter bumps in all of the high speed braking areas. It also had a lot of nice re-routes due to all of the flooding that had occurred throughout the summer. It looked to be a classic Sugarbottom race, arguably one of the toughest races in Iowa.
The usual Iowa suspects were present and accounted for on Sunday with a special guest appearance from a recent Tour De France participant Jason McCartney…I think he was on one of Lance’s tour teams, yes? No? Who knows, doesn’t matter, though I was really anxious to see how he’d do on a tough course like Sugarbottom!
The race started and my plan was to sit back a little and not blow my wad getting to the sharp end of the field. I ended up rolling into the woods about 7th wheel, a little further back than I wanted to be. The front group of about 8 pretty much stayed together throughout the first half lap. McCartney and Ryan Nenninger both flatted early. I kind of figured that something would happen to Jason. At the start of the race, he was asking a lot of questions about how to use certain things on his bike. That almost always leads to some sort of mechanical melt down in a race. It’s too bad because it would have been pretty cool to race against another cyclist of his caliber.
Jason looking for a wheel swap from the Radio Shack team car or the Mavic neutral support car.
As lap one progressed, some of the guys ahead of me started to yoyo off of the guy in front. As we hit the first section of road, I passed the guy in front of me and made contact with the tail end of the lead four of Eppen, Aaron R, Keven M and Shim. We rolled through the beginner loop and as we hit the next section of road, Eppen took over the lead from Aaron. I tried to move up to 2nd or 3rd, but got snaked by Shim as we hit the next section of singletrack. Not really sure why he did that because he looked like he was dying a slow death. We rolled into the singletrack and Eppen began to pull away from the group. Shim was struggling to carry speed throughout the singletrack and almost laid his bike down at one point. I finally asked if he’d let me by and by the time I got by, Eppen was long gone and Aaron was up the tail, but still in sight.
I gradually reeled Aaron in with Kevin on my wheel and we rode behind Aaron until the end of lap one. As we climbed to gravel road at the beginning of lap one, Kevin took over 2nd and I grabbed onto his wheel. As we made our way through the first section of singletrack, Aaron gradually fell off of our pace. I followed Kevin’s wheel throughout the first section of singletrack and the beginner loop. As we rolled along the gravel road after the beginner loop, I passed Kevin to do my share of the work in keeping Aaron behind us. By this time Eppen had a 2+ minutes on us and appeared to have the W locked up, barring any kind of mishap.
I upped the effort a little and noticed that Kevin was starting to dangle on some of the climbs. This encouraged me to push a little harder and I eventually was able to create some separation between us. I began to shift my focus on trying to close the gap to Brian, however by the end of lap two, he was already 2 ½ minutes up on me. I did my best to keep the pace high in hopes of closing in on him a little, and also keep Kevin and whoever else behind me.
Eppen ended up staying away took the W, I held on for 2nd, Kevin came in 3rd and Aaron salvaged 4th. I was pretty happy with the result. It’s a pretty tough course that doesn’t necessarily suit my strengths all that well. I also had to contend with a lot of guys that know the course a lot better than I do, so all in all, it was a very good day!
Big John is tall, his verticality probably grabbed enough wind that it took his momentum away on the way up cyclocross hill.
Despite being out on the course for around 3 ½ hours, Julie had a pretty good day too. She said that it was the best that she’d felt on the mountain bike all year! She also had to contend with a very strong field of women, most of which are from the Iowa City area and know the course a lot better than her.
The Mercy Specialized chicks took off like a pack of scalded dogs and left Julie in the dust.
We saw a lot of peeps decked out in various Rassy kits, it was great to see a good showing of the Rassy squad at an ‘away’ race! Great job to all that finished, regardless of your level, Sugarbottom is a very tough course for everyone.
Next up is the long drive to Mapelag Resort in western Minnesota for the Minnesota series stage race. This has quickly become one of our favorite races of the year. The folks at Mapelag know how to put on a great event and take excellent care of all of the participants with great accommodations, great food and a lot of awesome riding!
Thanks for reading,