Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sylvan Island

This was the first race of the year for a lot of the 40 or so Cat 1’s that lined up for the start and it showed. The start was a complete cluster with about half of the field gunning for the hole shot. A few overly ambitious guys got tangled up next to me and one of them got into the rear end of my bike. It felt like I had gotten pulled backwards so I knew that his bike had snagged something on mine. I was able to continue rolling and ended up 4th wheel going into the woods….until we hit the end of the trail with nowhere to go. Race officials forgot to tape off that section of the course, so we had to roll back to the start line for a re-start. After fiddle-farting around for another 20 minutes, they finally restarted us and once again, there was another wreck that happened next to me. I was able to avoid any contact this time and ended up 4th wheel going into the woods.
As I sat behind the guy in 3rd, I had a front row seat to Brian and another guy slowly riding away from us. We the hit first opportunity to pass on one of the levees and I slipped by 3rd place. Brian had passed the leader and started to gap him off. I tried to overhaul the 2nd place guy but quickly realized that my legs were not feeling the love today. I sat on his wheel throughout the rest of lap 2 and Brian disappeared off into the sunset.

The Eppenator beating the crap outta me.

As we rolled down the start / finish road we were riding into a pretty stiff headwind, so I sat in on the wheel ahead of me with the plan of passing right before we entered the woods again. Aaron R had the same idea and had gotten passed both of us. I grabbed Aaron’s wheel and held his pace throughout lap two. At some point during lap two, my chain had gotten hung up somewhere and I couldn’t turn the cranks. I dumped it down to the small ring and tried again to no avail. I tried again with a little more force and finally broke it loose. In the process I bent my front der and thankfully didn’t break my chain. I was still able to index the big ring so all was good.
At the end of lap two I passed Aaron and hit the singletrack at full speed. I’m still pretty amazed at how much better a 29” wheel can hook up on tight, twisty singletrack. It’s like night and day compared to a 26” wheel. I gradually increased the gap and began to focus on reeling Brian in. The great thing about Sylvan Island is that the course doubles back on itself a lot. So it’s pretty easy to gage gaps based on reference points throughout the course. Throughout the last three laps, I could tell that I was closing in on him by about 5 – 10 seconds a lap, but in the end his lead was too big to overcome. I was very happy with the result as I would have had to have had an extremely good day with Brian having a slightly off day for me to take him down.

Julie loves her new big wheeled bike.

I caught the end of Julie’s race and could tell by her body language that she wasn’t having a good day. She had gotten off to a bad start and just wasn’t feelin’ the love. Racing at Sylvan Island is deceptively tough. Yes, it’s pancake flat, but it’s so tight and twisty along with all of the glass, rocks, etc., that the slightest lapse in focus could have you wrapped around a tree, sitting trail side fixing a flat, or taking a dip in the river. With close to 300 competitors throughout the day, traffic was a little thick at times which added to the already challenging conditions.

My little niece, she loves watching her Uncle Cam race his bike!

Me Mum shreadin' some singletrack

All in all, it was a great day to be a mountain biker! We had great weather, sweet trails and Julie and I were able to spend most of the weekend with my family and good friends. We had a great turnout from central Iowa, and it was great to see a lot of folks decked out in Rassy gear!

Thanks for reading,


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