It was a good weekend of bike racing. Went up to the Warriors Cup with JP and CVO Saturday. Had a super good time, finished third and came home with the sweet cup you see above and a handful of cold, hard cash. JP raced 35+ expert, won the class, got an even bigger cup (it's huge... no joke), and got himself a big 'ol handful of cizzash too. CVO rocked the magic carpet with a big 'ol smile on his face, and a cold Bud in his belly... Not the hot setup for the fastest time of the day, but I guarantee he had the funnest time of the day -- and that's how he rolls. It was a good day.
The Cornhusker State Games mountain bike race was today out at Branched Oak lake. Not a huge field, but JP drove out there with me, and Schlake rolled the 4 or so miles from his beautiful homestead in the country to the race to line up with us, despite the fact that he was, by his own description, "drawing from the bottom of the tank today." He was racing 35+ though, and due to a weird difference between how the State Games and NORBA determine racing age, JP was racing the Expert 19-34 class with me (despite racing the 35+ class yesterday -- weird, 'eh?).
We still started at the same time though, and right from the start, it was clear that the fight for the overall win was between Schlake, JP and myself. JP went WFO from the gun, and got he and I out to a nice lead within five minutes of starting. Schlake bridged up quickly though -- arguably too quickly, as he went down immediately upon catching JP and I. It was kind of crazy... JP and I had actually eased-up on the pace a bit in anticipation of Schlake catching us, and apparently that caught him off-guard a bit. JP said Schlake told him that he came around a blind corner on the back side of the course, and he was going so much faster than we were, he almost ran right into the back of me! To avoid hitting me, he apparently grabbed a bit too much brake and took himself down. I heard something happen -- not loud, but clearly not normal -- but I didn't think he went down. All I knew was that he was no longer with us...
And so it went for about a lap. JP leading, me trying to keep up and Schlake about 20 seconds back hammering. Somewhere around the end of the third lap, I decided to pick up the pace, as it seemed Darin was coming closer, and I thought I'd be nice and return the favor to JP for pulling me around for three laps. I went around him on the final hill that lap, and sure enough, he attached himself to my rear wheel pretty quickly. I never saw Schlake again -- he probably decided he didn't need to beat us to win his class, and we got a "get out of jail free" card from him for the day.
On the fifth of seven laps, I started to get a little gap on JP, after actually asking him if he wanted around when I got a bit of a stomache cramp mid-way through the fourth lap. I don't know if he knows it or not (but of course he will now), but his response was the tipping-point of the race for me.
When I asked if he wanted around because I was getting a cramp, he said "no, it'll go away, just keep going."
And sure enough, ten seconds later, I let out a big burp and felt immediately better. Like two gears better. I didn't even have to hit the gas -- the gas just hit itself. And it's days like today that remind me why I love mountain bike racing. There is nothing better than the feeling that, all of the sudden, I believe I can win the race. It almost became easier at that point... at least it felt like it was easier.
Now alone, with a relatively comfortable gap on JP, I kept the hammer down until half-way through the seventh and final lap. At the top of the final back-side climb, as I zipped up my jersey, goosebumps came over me. It was the perfect on-the-bike end to a kick ass cycling weekend!
Conditions both days were upper 90s, with high humidity and bright sunshine. Sunday at least had a little wind to get the air moving.
JP and I did our first two laps in the CSG race this morning in 19 minutes, 57 seconds. That means we did sub-10 minute laps for the first two laps. THAT's INSANE!!! After the first two laps, we averaged right at 10 minute laps for each of the remaining five laps. I was expecting us to do 12 minute laps... It used to take 12 minutes, and I don't think I'm any faster than I've ever been... so I don't know what's up with that. Maybe I was off in my memory of 12 minute laps... that's probably it.
Thank you to Kris and the Cycle Works/Moose's Tooth crew for putting on the CSG race today, and to Scott and Tim up in Omaha for the sweet first edition of the Warrior's Cup. It was the most fun weekend of racing I've had in a long time.