IMBCS #6 Race Report - Scott County Park

This past Sunday brought me back from the past few weekends of racing in Wisconsin and Minnesota to the Iowa Mountain Biking Championship Series for IMBCS #6. The race was held just northeast of Eldridge, Iowa in Scott County Park on the brand new - and might I add, excellent - singletrack trails. Hats off to FORC (Friends of Off Road Cycling) for building this beautiful trail system to add to their Sunderbruch Park and Sylvan Island trail systems. Anyone looking for tight, twisty singletrack (and I mean TWISTY) trails in Iowa can look no further. These trails will satisfy all those needs to bump, twist and shout. The loop was about 6.5 miles and plans are in store to add even more trails in the future.

The ride over was exactly 3 hours from Indianola driving the speed limit. I arrived about an hour before the 11:15 CAT 2 start time, registered, warmed up and lined up. We had about a 10 minute delay due to some CAT 3 riders that were still out on the course for their race. So we all chilled at the line. There were 63 lined up at the line which included 58 men and 5 women. That's a good turnout for CAT 2 in the IMBCS races and the weather was perfect. Sunny with temperatures in the 70's. Hello! This is supposed to be July....

After our delay and a few remarks about technical obstacle to watch out for out on the course (a log pile with a nasty fall to the left if not done correctly), there was no countdown. Just a quick whistle and nobody was clipped in or ready for the start as the lady with the whistle gave us no warning. I think it surprised all of us as it took a few seconds for reality to hit and everyone to get clipped in. Regardless, we were all up and cranking in the open field grass section to make it to the singletrack first....

And We're Off!

I had not pre-ridden the course, but was told that this opening section was about the only open spot (outside of 2 or 3 smaller double track connector sections about 100 yards long). I started off the back and worked my way up a bit to the middle of the pack on this opening section, but there was a sharp right turn into the singletrack which bottled the whole group up again. Here we are lining up to make the sharp right turn...

Heading To the Singletrack

We were wheel to wheel for most of lap one (CAT 2's were slotted for 3 full laps). By the end of lap 1, I was hanging with a group of 4 and we had managed to fill a gap in front of us and create a gap behind us (which never was filled). The lead guy in this group had to stop for a mechanical and I dug in behind a rider which I kept wanting to pass, but was having trouble in the tight and twisty to find a place to get around him. He was on a 26" wheeled race bike and our height difference and the amount of lean I use with the big wheels carving the turns was not an advantage for me, but I finally caught up to him in an open area and went around him shortly after the photographer snapped these shots...

Time to pass

Looking ahead to gauge my pass...

Closing a gap to pass

You will notice I'm not wearing my usual sunglasses. That's because I biffed the obstacle we were warned about in Lap 1 when I curiously looked left at the top of the log pile to see what was so nasty on the left side of the pile. And of course, the bike usually goes where you look - so down to the left I went in a slow motion tumble where my sunglasses fell off. The course marshall located at that obstacle yelled to me he would pick them up and bring them back to the registration tent after the race (he did).

I traded places back and forth with 2 guys for most of lap 2 and 3 and was starting to get cooked...

Looking Cooked

The past 3 weeks, my races were about an hour and 12 to 14 minutes in length. According to my watch, I had been out on the course for 2 hours as these laps were long and the tight and twisty keep speeds down. All the acceleration out of corners and the climbs had my legs feeling the early stages of cramping, but they held off and I didn't cramp.

I rolled in hungry and a little cooked in 25th place out of 58 for the male CAT 2's. There was a lot of talk about flat tires, mechanicals, the difficult twisty turns, etc..., but fun was had by all. I thought conditions were perfect out on the trail and I really liked the challenge of slinging my 29"er through such a tight course. If I had to do it again, the Dos Niner would have been the bike of choice. It's just a snappier bike in that kind of a tight and twisty course than my JET 9 proved to be. I was beat up from the fall I took as well as my shoulder and hip and neck saying hello to several trees during the race. I got my sunglasses back, so I was happy. After a steak burger, I was back in the Element and heading home to get ready for RAGBRAI.

I got to meet Adam Perkins who I know from MTBR.com. He was riding his Jeff Jones Titatnium Singlespeed Dream Machine. He tried my JET and I tried his Jones. That is one sweet bike I must admit. I didn't have my camera with me, otherwise I would have snapped a shot of that titanium sweetness. Adam is about to begin his teaching career and I was telling him how nice it is to have summers free as a teacher. It's a bonus/perk well worth the trade off in receiving a higher salary that other careers might provide.

We took my Element to Chariton last night and dropped it off. Tara and I will ride Wednesday from Indianola to Chariton with RAGBRAI, load up our bikes and drive home. I'll head out today and do some of the ride in the rain as the riders enter Indianola. I'm not much for riding in the rain, but I've got the gear to do it.

This weekend is back to Minnesota (weather permitting) for MNSCS #6 before heading out to the Black Hills on Monday.

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