In terms of weather - what a great day for racing yesterday!!!!
The Boy Scouts have a camp called Camp Ingawanis just outside of Waverly, IA. The camp was the venue for yesterday's IMBCS #2 XC race. This was a rescheduled event that was rained out in May. Actually, I was glad about that because I was in France at the time and this way I was able to do the race. Well, there was no rain yesterday and the singletrack was in great shape as it was fast and fun.
I headed out early enough to get a practice lap in before the 10 a.m. CAT 3 race took off. I had the Salsa Dos Niner and the JET 9 in the Element because I didn't know how the course would be and wanted to have both options to choose between. I took the JET 9 out and did a practice lap and quickly decided it was the bike for the race as there were some bumpy sections of singletrack near the start/finish area and my old back needs the cushion when it can get it. The Ravens were fine in the practice lap so I was all set to go. Jeremy Bidwell, Captain Bob, Paul Meyermann and the entire crew set up an excellent race, were gracious hosts and always have plenty of hospitality. We even entered our names for a drawing to win a new Surly Karate Monkey frame and fork.
After riding 3 days on RAGBRAI and enjoying a week out in the Black Hills, I wasn't sure how my legs would be, but I did have a strategy now that I feel I've finished a good build phase leading into the 2nd half of the season. I wanted to line up near the front and go out as strong as I could to avoid some of the larger group traffic jams. The lap and race was short enough (much the same distance/time as the Minnesota and Wisconsin CAT 2 races) that I felt I could keep a sustained effort from the gun. So, that was my strategy.
We had our racers meeting at 10:45 and then went down the gravel road a bit to line up for the start. It was a pretty good turnout for an IMBCS event as 67 racers lined up for the various categories. We had 40 CAT 2's line up (37 men and 3 women). After the Experts rolled out at 11, we had 5 minutes to kill and I managed to line up in the 2nd row for the sprint to the singletrack. At the gun, I big ringed it up the hill and was able to enter the singletrack in the top 10. I liked the pace and pretty much hung on the front group of 6 or 7 for a good portion of the first lap. About 1/2 way through the lap, I started to settle into my preferred pace. I caught a couple of guys that were in front of me and passed them on the second 1/2 of lap one, and a couple guys from behind me caught up to me and passed me. So net, net - I was still pretty much where I had entered the singletrack.
Lap 2 felt really good and I got behind one of the expert women somewhere in the 2nd half of the lap. It wasn't really the best place to pass and she told me to let her know when I wanted to go around. Even though I knew there were 3 or 4 CAT 2 guys right on my wheel, I used her wheel to recover a bit before passing her right before the start of lap 3. One of the guys on my wheel went around me after we got going in lap 3 and the other 3 hung on close. I was in a pretty good groove for me and I still felt strong, but I did notice I didn't quite have the same juice as I did in lap 1 and 2. I didn't have the same drive up the rock section on lap 3 as I did in lap 1 and 2. Final lap times would confirm this as I was 40 seconds slower in lap 3 than I was in lap 2.
When we hit one of the doubletrack sections in lap 3, I pulled over to the right side of the doubletrack to let the 3 behind me go around me and I grabbed Brian Gibson's rear wheel for a bit, but I just couldn't hang like I wanted to with him. I'm not complaining, because for me - I was still flying and giving it my full effort. I felt my strategy in this race was working and my race was going well compared to some of my previous races this season where I get stuck at the back or in the middle of the pack and spend the entire race trying to work my way up. I had to settle back into my own pace for the last 1/2 of lap 3, but I saw a target up ahead and closed the gap on one of the expert racers. I just hung onto his wheel for the rest of the lap and crossed the line for CAT 2 Open Men in 11th place out of 27.
I was very happy with my race and felt like I kicked myself up a notch from previous races this season with my recent build phase, strategy off the line and effort. It was only the latter half of lap 3 that I felt I wasn't able to sustain the same effort I had in the first 2 1/2 laps. Hopefully, I can target my training to eek out a bit more than 60 minutes of that kind of race pace effort in subsequent races. I know I had it going in a few races last year, but this was the first race this season that I felt like everything was coming together.
Well, I didn't win the Karate Monkey as Keith Snoop snagged that nice raffle prize. Heck, he snagged a podium spot and his two kids were on the podium for the kids' race as well. Pretty good day for the Snoop family I must say. I hopped in the Element and headed on home. After stopping for a Diet Coke, some gas and trail mix, I got home in about 2 hours and change going the back roads. My wife and I had dinner over at our friends, the Tighes. It was delicious! Flank steak, grilled onions, corn on the cob, home made buns, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes (from our garden), strawberry shortcake, wine, beer, friendly discourse, etc... .
Today is all about trimming, grooming and working out at Lake Ahquabi State Park to get the course ready for Sunday's IMBCS #7. I put in 4 hours this morning, now I'm home for an extended lunch before heading back out with my shovel, clippers, weed eater, gloves and bug spray. I fixed a lot of rain damage by filling in enough of the ruts on the steep climb of the south side to run the race in the clockwise direction like last year. I think, if need be, I can borrow CITA's bush whacker since the DNR has a restricted budget this year for mowing. Most things look good an what I can't get with my weed whacker today I will hit with the mower later this week.
Enough for now. I'm heading back out for trail work. It stormed early this morning, but Ahquabi can take a lot of rain. And it is supposed to storm a lot this week. My plan is for the race to go on regardless of rain all week or not. There is only one small muddy section out there today from last night's storm.