Having no races in Iowa or Nebraska this weekend, I drove up to Elk River, MN (19 miles northwest of the Twin Cities burbs) for the MNSCS #6 race. The race was held on the excellent singletrack trails of Hillside Park and run by a great crew of volunteers who helped with parking, handing out water, getting us signed in and in short - kept the event running like clockwork.
I dropped Zack off at 5:30 a.m. at the Catholic Church in Indianola where he met a group of 50 high school students that were heading out for a week of service work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I headed north to the Twin Cities and arrived at the race venue with about 45 minutes before the start. I got registered, suited up, warmed up (not enough, but time was the issue) and lined up in Wave 2 for the race. I brought the Dos Niner to race and had outfitted the bike with a pair of prototype race tires that I am trying out from Maxxis.
I love these tires!!! They fill a void that was missing in the 29"er size. A light weight (around 500 grams per tire), with low rise knobs that roll like the wind. My pair weighs 480g and 500g respectively. They were perfect during the race. The Ravens are great as well, but they drift at times in corners and these prototype Aspens hold their line.
At the starting gun, I had difficulty getting my left foot clipped in and lost my "mark" (a guy I recognized who had finished one or two spots in front of me in the last Minnesota race). By the time we entered the singletrack, I noticed he was ahead of me by 20 or so positions. Again, turnout was large at the race. 140 Cat 2's toed the line yesterday. My wave had about 40 racers in it and we started 2 minutes behind the first wave of 25 younger guys. We had the usual backups and near stops as the group encountered some of the first difficult spots. Again, the importance of being up in the front could have saved me some time. Not getting my foot clipped in and not being able to move up beyond the middle of the pack probably cost me a minute or two overall, but c'est la vie.
I loved the trail and no difficulties negotiating the terrain. It was good to race the Dos again, although my lower back will take a couple of days to recover. ;-) I was able to pass quite a few - especially as I caught up to the slower racers in the first wave. I ended up crossing the line in 10th out of 17 for my age class and 65th out of 140 for the Cat 2's. The 65th is the same as the previous Minnesota race, but the next guy in my age class was a little over a minute ahead of me. I don't think I could have made up a minute out on the course as I was going full bore, so maybe it was in the start and sprint for the singletrack that I could have made up that time gap.
Regardless, I had fun in this race. One of the support/fund raising groups at the event had a food tent, so I grabbed a burger and Diet Coke. This group was an animal rescue league devoted to rescuing and saving Schnauzers. Interesting, but I made a donation in their tent in hopes of helping out their cause.
It's time to load up the car and head to the Black Hills for the week. I loaded the bikes last night on the Element. I was airing up the front tires of the mini-van on Saturday when I heard the valve or valve stem leaking. So I took it in to Downey Tires to be fixed and while fixing it they noticed one of my left front wheel tie rods is just about shot and should not be driven. Of course, their mechanic doesn't work on Saturdays and I didn't want to pay the price that the Ford/Mercury dealer charges, so instead of taking the spacious mini-van to the Black Hills, we are stuffing ourselves, dogs, luggage and bikes into the Honda Element. Rocket Box on top, bike rack on the rear, dogs on the floor, Alexa in one of the rear seats, cooler on the floor and feet out the window.... ;-]
Off to the Black Hills!