Midpackitis again!! Of all the sport men categories, 19 guys finished ahead of me and 19 guys finished behind me. You cannot get any more midpack than that!!!
We had the second weekend of perfect weather for mountain bike racing in August. I carpooled over with Cam Kirkpatrick and we arrived in Omaha with plenty of time to register and take a test lap of the course. New for this year at the Tranquility Tire Tantrum was a 3 hour marathon race option which was underway when we arrived. That race was not for points in the series, but provided an option for those seeking a longer venue. It was a good turnout for the Psycowpath series with 163 total racers in all divisions showing up in the excellent weather to race their mountain bikes. Of those, 18 were in the kids race and 16 were in the 3 hour Marathon race. That left 129 racers battling for series points in their respective divisions. Oh that we could get that kind of a turnout in Iowa for our races.
I brought the Sugar 293 to race as my back was still tender from the previous week of setting up the Lake Ahquabi race course and racing. The Sugar stays glued to the ground and lets me stay seated and pedal through any rough stuff with less fatigue afterwards.
Here she is:
I ran an XR 2.25 up front with a tubeless Crow in the rear which was a fast combination for the dry, dusty, hard packed course. The XR was a popular choice up front at the race in the 29"er crowd so I was in good company. During the pre-ride, I didn't wash out on one corner, so it was a good choice and gave me confidence for those corners out in the prairie that were hard packed, grassy and dusty. By the way, this is a really fun course. A nice mix of technical things in the lowlands by a creek, pine trees with tight singletrack to provide some shade and switchbacks and lots and lots of open prairie singletrack with the majority of the climbing out in the elements of wind, sun or whatever the weather brings that day. This is all situated between urban dwellings and a golf course with a nice view.
The Sport Open category was stacked with some new fresh and fast talent. I couldn't believe how fast off of the line our group took off and quickly found myself in about 9th place out of 14 as I struggled to get my left foot clipped in. The course had been lengthened a couple of miles from last year with some sweet switchbacks and new trail in the open prairie. We rode it in the opposite direction this year from the clockwise direction we raced last year on that 20 degree day in April. With the new switchbacks and additional prairie trail, it was a middle and big ring race. I really thought I did a good job of keeping a steady pace and power on the pedals at all times. The Sugar soaked up all obstacles and bumps in the trail and provided the platform I needed to keep my lower back in check.
I felt really strong coming out of lap one and started to push it a little more in lap 2. At the end of lap one:
With all of the 3 hour marathon racers still out on the course during lap one and two, it was kind of hard to tell just who you were passing. However, most of them were going at a slower pace having been out there for so long. Turns out, not much was going on in terms of changing places with guys in the sport open category.
Cruising along in lap two:
One guy passed me during lap two from my class and went on to best me by 4 minutes. I stopped for a new water bottle at the drop zone to start lap 3 and another guy went around me. I gave chase and tailed him for the first part of lap three, but it turns out he was in a different category (Sport Masters 45+). Regardless, we traded places back and forth all throughout lap 3. Me passing him on the climbs, he passing me on the descents. It was fun to have this chase and pass scenario during the last lap as it gave the two of us a nice little motivation and battle to keep us moving. On the big descent and switchbacks at the end of the lap, he was able to open up a little gap on me and I couldn't close it in the big ring before the line where he bested me by 6 seconds. It's never happened to me before during a race, but on the final descent, my upper left arm cramped up. Not enough to alter my riding in any way, but it was interesting. My legs were fine in terms of not cramping. I only felt a twinge in the right leg building up during the second half of the final lap, but it didn't cramp.
In the open prairie on some switchback climbs:
I felt good with my effort, but the results certainly don't match how I felt. I rolled in for 10th place out of 15 in the Sport Open category. Wow! Not good. Granted, there was some new young and fast talent in the category, but this was my lowest place finish for my category in the Psycowpath series for this year. Hmmmmm.... I always check the overall sport men category to compare my times with the entire field and other guys who are regulars to gauge my progress or standings. As I said at the beginning of this post - midpackitis it was. I need to be higher than dead in the middle pivot spot of 1/2 ahead of me and 1/2 behind me.
Needless to say, I have upped my training this week and will continue to build up for another peak 4-6 weeks from now for the final two Psycowpath races.
Congratulations to Cam who, in spite of a heavy training week of two 68 mile days and one 102 mile day on the road bike of training for a season ending peak, rolled across the finish line in the expert division in total control of the field. I actually brought my camera along and got a few shots. Believe it or not my batteries were working! You can read about Cam's excellent race here. Here is a shot of him rolling out of the prairie and into the final section before the finish line:
Hey, this is the first time all season he hasn't passed me on his 4th lap before I finished the sport open race!!! Either his legs were tired from all the training or I was pushing a good pace - or both. ;-)
I visited with another racer in the start/finish area when I saw his custom Sycip 650B wheel sized bike. He was a former 29"er rider, but swapped out to the 650B "tweener" size of 27.5" (between 26" and 29") when he bought this bike. He seemed to really love it and said it fit his height and riding style a bit better than the 29"er platform. I'm interested in this wheel size for my wife and or daughter so was chatting with him about it. I think it would be a nice platform for those who are less tall, but want some of the benefit of big or bigger wheels. NoTubes already makes a tubeless ready rim for this wheel size and a few tires are now available. Most of the frames are still custom, but production frames as well as the ability to use certain 26" wheel frames/forks that the wheels will fit in are possible.
He was sporting the new Pacenti race tires and very enthusiastic about them:
Cool looking rig and more power to him for racing without any suspension on the Tranquility course.
Today is the first day of school for the kids and the first day of work for me at Simpson. We have 3 days of faculty workshops and meetings before classes start on Monday. Boy, the summer went fast!
Carpet is scheduled to be installed on September 4th and 5th, so it won't be long before our house gets back to normal.