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:
- Platte River Battle Royale enduro -- 4th place
- NWTT #1 -- 1st place
- Warrior's Cup -- 3rd place
- Nebraska State Games -- 1st place
- Swanson XC Championships -- 5th place
I hope you got to have fun on your bike this weekend too.
PS - Also czech the great race photos on Mombok's site.