Monday, April 26, 2010

Decorah MTB TT

This is one of those races I have heard about for the past couple years, but never made it up to because it was always the same weekend as the Old Capitol Crit in Iowa City. This year though it is part of the IMBCS Series so it was put on the calendar, and I am glad it was. This was the 20th running of TT's in Decorah for them, the race is ran rain or shine, and once again this year it would be rain. The trails were slick in spots, mostly the exposed roots on the climbs were the spots that would prove to be challenging.

I did pre-register so I was able to select my start time, I wanted to get going early because there was still the threat of rain all day. I got the 30th start time leaving the start at 10:30, got a decent warm-up on the rollers before starting as there was really nowhere else to warm-up, and roller up to the start line with about 10 minutes to start. The first 200 yards or so was a paved road leading up to the singletrack, and once you hit the woods you start climbing, really slick on the first couple parts, but was able to just sit and spin up them for the most part. Bobbled one section and took part in my first of about 5 or so hike a bike sections, but unlike in the past where I would just work my way up them at a decent pace I know I had to run them, so off I was running. We started in 1 min intervals and within the first 3/4 of a mile I had caught 2 guys that started ahead of me. The first 2 miles would be basically switchbacking up and down the frontside of the hill, almost to the point of going all the way back to the bottom only to have to climb back to the top. By mile 3 I had caught I believe 5 of the people that started before me, and was just trying to maintain a good pace.

We have now dropped down the backside of the hill and into a valley between 2 hills, so that means time to climb again. This next climb was a nice one, about 1/2 mile in length, rocky, and climbed about 200 feet verticly, I had not caught up to anyone in a while, but could start seeing people in the next couple sections ahead, so I had something to shoot for. That is the one thing I don't like about the TT is you have noone behind you pushing you all the time, and usually you don't have anyone in front of you to chase. Now we get into the really technical sections of the course, lots of off-camber side hill riding, plenty of log crossings, and really tight corners. Make it through there passing about 5 more guys, and I come up to the pine tree section and notice a jersey, it was Kurt Benson, I went past him, and was just flowing through the pines, almost a 1/2 mile section, and at one point I thought I missed a turn because there were no course markings, nothing, but finally found one and was back on the right track. Made my way back down this hill and know I was getting close to the finish, would have to climb part of the first hill once again to make it back over, dropped down through another rock garden section and down to the pavement, cross that and down to the river trail, which was mainly flat once you got through the first section, threw it into the big ring and just hammered it out to the finish line.

Looking back I would have liked to be able to pre-ride the course, maybe I could have pushed it more in some sections. Headed over to T-Bock's where they would have the results and awards ceremony, so while waiting we ordered a couple plates of fries, and a Snakebite, which is now one of my favorite drinks, Woodchuck and Guinness, sweet.

Finished the 11.2 mile race in 1hour 13minutes and 04seconds which would be good enough for a 2nd Place in Mens 32-33 category (got a sweet plaque for that) 18th Place Overall out of 87 finishers and 2 Place for the IMBCS Series in the Cat 2 Open class.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sylvan Island Stampede

Sunday brought us to the Quad Cities for the first Mountain Bike Race of the 2010 season, and the start if the IMBCS Series. The weather would be much nicer then last year with temps in the low 70's and sunny, it would prove to be some fast lap times, and huge crowds. We had gone down the day before to pre-ride a couple laps, and I am really glad we did that, trying to pre-ride in the morning can prove to be a hassle on some courses.

We arrived pretty early which was good because sometimes parking can be a pain, but they had guys out directing us where to go, so all was good there. We went and got registered, the kids were doing the kids race at 11:15 so we walked around looking for good spots to take pictures and also watch some of the Novice Race. Got the kids to their race, and I warmed up for a little while they were doing that.

I made sure to show up to the line early so I could get a good spot on the front row, I had heard there was 119 of us in the Cat 2/Womens Open Races, so we would all be on course at the same time. This year the Women were sent off 4 minutes before us, as they are a much smaller group with 25 of them compared to the 90+ of us. Off they went, and we waited, talk about a long 4 minutes. I made sure I was in my big ring and had my fork locked out. The start is a 6 foot or so wide trail that would funnel down into a single track on the other side of the island which is about .2 miles away, so not too long.

From my past experience you want to be in the front, so the whistle blows, I clip in and go. I once again have the holeshot heading towards the singletrack, and after the race I would find out I was doing 29.6mph along that section on the start. First lap has begun, and I am leading for quite a while. We do start catching the tail end of the womens field, and they were pretty good about letting us go by when we caught up to them. Before this lap was over I was in 5th place or so and we have caught almost half the womens field. Onto lap 2 I am feeling pretty good, and know I just have to maintain the pace I have been going at. I do lose another position to one of the Junior racers, so no biggie there. By now I have a pretty good handle on where I am at on the course and know where to push and where to sit up for a second and recover.

Lap 3 starts with being able to see some more guys about a section or so behind me, so I keep turning the pedals over the best I can, and try to maintain my pace. By now I have worked my way almost through the entire womens field with the exception of maybe the top 5. Still feeling pretty good I am basically in cruise control mode now and feeling the flow of the Island. I did get caught by another one of the 40+ guys before the lap ended, and he followed me around for a bit before it opened up and I let him go ahead of me, I tried holding his wheel for a little bit, but wasn't able to. Final lap and I am feeling the pace starting to get to me, but know there are guys coming. The sections between the tight twisty singletrack are big ring hammerfest and making sure I don't slip any. I am now over half way through the final lap and have a pretty decent gap on the next guy behind me, and know I am not gaining on the guy in front so I just have to hold this pace. Come into the final straight to the finish which was the same as the start .2 miles of flat fast trail, so back into the big ring and bring it home.

I come across the line in 1hour 23minutes 20seconds, and from start to finish my lap time only went up 56seconds with times of 20:19 20:48 21:00 and 21:15. I am very pleased with my result here, 7th overall and 3rd in my Category. Next race up is in 2 weeks in Decorah, and from what I have heard I better bring my climbing legs.

Pictures up here