Monday, September 18, 2006

Swanson... FINALLY!

photo - CVO

The Nebraska state championships (xc) was this past Saturday at Swanson park in Bellevue, and for once this season we had an absolutely perfect course to race on, despite a bit of rain the night before the race. In the end, it was pretty much the same cast of characters up front wielding big hammers.

Cam Kirkpatrick did what he's been doing all season -- winning races. Talking to him after the race, he told me his race plan was to hang out in 2nd place until the last half of the 6th (and final) lap, then go super hard to win the race, and it sounds like that's exactly what he did. He followed Tony Wilhelm, and as Tony wore himself out on his rigid singlespeed, Cam just kept applying the gas and motored away.

I say "sounds like" because I was nowhere near those two guys. Don't get me wrong -- I was having a good race -- but I was back in a battle for fifth place. I went into the trees in seventh place, and that's pretty much where I stayed most of the first lap. At the start of the second lap, Steve Jarrett and Schlake came up to me. Schlake immediately went around and pulled Steve and I up to Shim. At this point Schlake just disappeared off ahead of us. For the remainder of the second lap I followed Steve and Shim, giving them a good hard look to see what they were doing well, and where I was doing better.

Ironically, they were both descending really well, and I was catching back up to them on the climbs. Talk about a change of pace!! At the end of the second lap, as we came out of the trees, Shim let Steve and I around, and to my surprise, Steve waved me around him right away. That was my ticket, and I took full advantage of having the clear trail. I pinned it on laps 3-5, and got a nice, comfortable pad over sixth place. I could tell from the time checks that I wasn't gaining (or losing) any more ground on Darrin, so I settled into 5th place, content in the knowledge that I rode well, had fun, and would at least get my entry fee back. That's always a nice bonus.

So at the finish, it was: Cam in first, Kent McNeill in second, Tony in third, Schlake in fourth, I was fifth, Shim ended up sixth, and my boy JP motored in for seventh. New Tomac Cycles owner Joel Smith put in an impressive ride to finish eighth in his Nebraska mountain bike racing debut. Talk about a field stacked with fast guys!

But even better than the racing itself was the scene on Saturday. You could tell we've been having some crappy weather, because everyone at the race seemed extra happy -- just basking in the sun, enjoying the beautiful conditions. The support of the spectators on the sidelines was particularly inspiring Saturday. CVO and Daniel Kelley were hollerin' all the time, and combined with the other spectators on the course, the support kept a big 'ol smile on my face the entire race. It was awesome.

At the start of the 2006 season, I made a commitment to myself to only race when I was inspired to race. If I wasn't excited about the race, I didn't do it. So far, that's led me to compete in five races (counting NWTT as one of the races), and based on my average finish in those five races, it seems to be working for me.

Here's the record in 2006:
  1. Platte River Battle Royale enduro -- 4th place
  2. NWTT #1 -- 1st place
  3. Warrior's Cup -- 3rd place
  4. Nebraska State Games -- 1st place
  5. Swanson XC Championships -- 5th place
Compared to 2005, when I finished second once, but was otherwise out of the top-five the entire season, this is quite a turn-around. Racing has been the sideshow this season for me -- fun is the primary directive. And that's been the difference. I don't ride to race. I ride to live.

I hope you got to have fun on your bike this weekend too.


PS - Also czech the great race photos on Mombok's site.


debaser said...

Nice job dude. Way to have some FuN!

mg said...

thanks bro. how'd your weekend go? i heard there was snow seen out in your neck 'o the woods.

3p0 said...

yeah dude, congrats, You looked like you totaly enjoyed the day.

thanks again for hawling me up there,

I'm sure that if I don't see ya this week, I'll see ya zip by me standing around the side of the trail down at the caves hollering at ya again


mg said...

thanks cvo -- i'm sure i'll see ya' this week. do you need a yard mowin thursday night? lemme know. i can do it.

who are you headed to caves with? perhaps we should carpool again. the si is all gassed up!!

debaser said...

Check the lamp for some initial pics. Snow, wind, and 30 degrees.

3p0 said...

I have to head home saturday night, so no camping for me, gotta be back by 9pm, so if your not stayin the night, I'm down,

otherwise, I'm plannin on driving down there myself.

but I'd love to carpool if your commin back home.

3p0 said...

oh, and jp is commin over wednesday night, as usual, your more than welcome to stop by,

shit, stop by tonight on your way down to the wrench, or out to wilderness early.

shortstop is outa town, and i'm just chillin.

mg said...

Ooooohhh... Nice CVO. I'm probably not going to camp, so that'd work sweet for us to go down there together.

Oh, and perhaps I'll visit Wednesday night too. That'd be sweeet. We'll talk between now and then.

Ganzel - amazing. I saw the shots on the 'lamp. Sounds like you got some epic-quality singletrack in. Good to hear you had fun and made it back all in one piece.

mg said...

... the word sweet is sweet. yeah, i just read my last post.