Last weekend we were waffling between heading to Ponca or Afton, all depending on the weather. If Ponca were to get rained out, we were going to head up to Afton on Sunday. We woke up Saturday morning, took a look at the radar, rolled over and went back to sleep thinking that the Ponca race was going to be postponed. There was a big, ugly green, yellow and red mass rolling over western Iowa and Ponca was on the north edge of it all.
A little later we took a look at the FB page and to our surprise, they said the race was on. Sweet! We scrambled to pack up the rest of our crap and took off about 30 minutes later than we would have liked. We hit I-29 north to Sioux City and the folks on the news were not kidding about all of the hardships that the residents along the Missouri River are facing. Lot’s of flooding everywhere, please keep the people along the Missouri in your thoughts and prayers…
The tread at Ponca however, was close to perfect, slightly damp and very grippy. I’m in the midst of my mid season peak, so I was looking to have a really good race. We lined up for the start and I was pretty determined to get a good start with the goal of letting only one cat into the singletrack before me. The USAC official blew the whistle and I slotted myself in behind Kent McNeil, one of my all time favorite wheels to follow. I’ve learned a lot of good lines following Kent’s wheel over the years, he’s among the best of the best. We hit the singletrack with Kent in the lead, followed by myself, Shim and the rest of the field. The pace throughout the first lap was pretty comfortable and about midway through the lap, the lead group was down the Kent, myself and Shim. I found myself chomping at the bit to take over the lead, but I was having fun riding with Kent and Shim, so I contained myself until the start of lap three.
As we rolled through the start / finish area at the end of lap 2, I took the lead and accelerated up the hill to test the legs of Shim and Kent. I took a quick look back and saw that I had opened a small gap. I continued the effort throughout the lap until I felt like I had a comfortable lead. I’d hit it pretty hard throughout lap three, so on laps four and five I backed it off a little and tried to take it all in. I love racing my bike regardless of whether I get 1st or 50th, I love the people and I love sweet singletrack. The trail system at Ponca has some of the most fun singletrack that you will find anywhere. All of the climbs reward you with fast, swoopy descents that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
So in the end, I was fortunate enough to once again take the W. I went into this season thinking that my results would start to fade a little as I’m not getting any younger. However I seem to be getting slightly better with age…I’m cool with that. As most predicted, Kent claimed another USAC Nebraska State Champion title as the first Nebraskan to finish with Shim coming in third. Prior to the race, I thought the state title would be a toss up between Kent and Shim. Kent is always a contender and Shim is having a really good year. I bet it was a fun race to watch.
Julie had a really good race and I knew it before we talked after the race. I can always tell when she’s having fun whenever I pass her. She finished 2nd in the women’s Cat 1 race to Sydney Brown. Ponca is the type of course that favors good fitness and Sydney has a big engine, so Julie has every reason to be happy when she can finish within a few minutes of Sydney on a course like Ponca.
This coming weekend will be a busy one. Zoom Performance is doing their annual training camp for triathletes in Madison on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The WORS Subaru Cup Pro XCT is Saturday and Sunday and the Minnesota series has a XC race on Sunday at Red Wing. As much as I’d love to take part in the Subaru Cup, I’m most likely going to help out the fine folks of Zoom in Madison and maybe do the XC race in Red Wing.
Thanks for reading,