Monday, August 13, 2007
Psycowpath/Maskethine XC -- It Was Hot...
It was a hot one Saturday up at Maskethine Lake. The race was Round #7 of the 2007 Psycowpath MTB Racing series, and despite the fact that crucial late-season series points were on the line, a relatively slim field of racers took on the challenge of racing their bikes in the late-summer heat.
Prior to the race, none of us had particularly high expectations for the quality of the course, but all of us were pleasantly surprised by what we found -- about six miles of fun, flowy and entertaining trails. A little bumpy, but it's a new trail network, so that'll get better with time. I have to say it was a totally worthy race course.
A total of eleven Experts toed the line -- six in the "open" category, and five in the "master's 35+" category. The start was pretty easy by modern standards (esp. compared to the start at Manawa...). Jim Winklepleck (team Big Jimmy) took the early lead into the singletrack, followed closely by series heavy-hitters Aaron Grady (BikeMasters) and Cam Kirkpatrick (Rasmussen/Orbea).
I figured Cam was a pretty safe wheel to sit on, so I settled into tempo behind him as we rolled into the first of four laps. About half-way through the first lap, we went around Jim, and Cam and I settled into line behind Aaron, who was setting a pretty conservative early pace, most likely out of respect for the heat. Kevin Limpach (Midwest Cycling Community) and Jesse Peterson (Monkey Wrench Cycles) rolled up onto our back bumper pretty quickly. JP mentioned that we had even more company comin', so at that point, I went around Cam, rode up to Aaron and asked him to turn the pace up a notch. I didn't really want to lead the race, and Aaron did exactly what I asked him to do.
It worked too... almost too well in fact. After about a half-lap of the new, higher pace, I missed a shift to my middle ring, and instantly Aaron had a 15 meter gap. It was here that my race was defined. I made a snap decision to put in about a dozen very hard pedal strokes to get back up to Aaron... and when combined with the heat and the fact that I just about water logged myself prior to the start of the race, I was forced to back it down just to keep from throwing up.
I had been going just fine at the speed we were riding, but that small extra effort just sent me over the edge, and I spent the next lap just trying not to puke. It was not fun watching the top four riders essentially ride away from me, but there was not much I could do.
My stomach sorted itself out by the start of the third lap, but by this point, I was more than a minute down on JP, Kev and Aaron (Cam was another minute ahead of them). Since I was also more than a minute up on Jay Chesterman (Sioux City Velo), I decided I was in a pretty good spot. JP and Kev were both racing master's, so I was actually in third place in the open class.
The heat played a big part in my decision not to attempt to chase the group ahead of me down. I might have succeeded in catching them, but then again, I might have failed, and either way, it would have hurt a lot more than it did to just ride to hold my position. The inspiration to really hurt just wasn't there...
All-in-all, I was encouraged by my riding Saturday, and I'm looking forward to the races coming up in the next few weeks. They're almost all 6-12 hour races, which is definitely more in keeping with my current strengths. If I can ride a six hour race at the pace I rode Saturday, I think I'll be in very good shape at the finish. We'll see...
Hope to see y'all at the Tuesday night Monkey Wrench ride. Kevin L. and some other folks from Omaha are reputed to be coming down, so it should be a great time!
Posted by MG