Yesterday was the IMBCS #2 race in the series for the 2012 year. It also marked my return to racing after a 4 week recovery period from crashing at Tranquility in Omaha. In spite of the shoulder, neck, rib pain - I managed to train on pavement enough to maintain some fitness. I was worried I would lose it all, so knowing I had a good base, I targeted intensity and lessened the volume. Not to mention, I was working around the May Term work schedule which meant I had to sneak an hour here, 90 minutes there, and hit the bike hard when I could between rehearsals. But I got 3 weeks in of just over 6 1/2 hours per week (I pretty much took the week off after the crash doing only 1:50 that week of painful pavement riding).
Going against my better judgment, I stuck with my decision to race 4 weeks after the crash. Most had advised me to wait 6 weeks. However, I sort of left it to how I felt this week out on singletrack. I did a full loop at Banner on Wednesday and it strained my neck which didn't leave me feeling that great on Thursday. Thursday, I did a full loop and then some out at Lake Ahquabi on a the big squish bike (RIP 9) to mitigate jarring my neck and shoulder and it felt better. That was enough to convince me I had the physical stamina to survive the race on Saturday.
I made the drive over to Waverly and arrived at the Scout Camp about 11 am. Kyle Sedore had brought the new kits from BikeIowa.com so I had to find him and suit up in the new gear. To say the least, I love the new kits. This particular brand (PRIMAL) fits me perfectly and the artwork on our kits has everyone talking about them - in a good way. There was a team competition at this event which had cash prizes of $100 going to the team with the most racers in attendance, and $50 to the 2nd team with the most racers. BikeIowa.com took 2nd as we had 2 fewer racers than Rasmussen's from Des Moines. We divided up the cash per car load to help cover the gas expense. There was a small, but fun group that turned out for the CAT 1/CAT 2 race (48 total) and the CAT 3 race was over and done with by the time the rest of us even arrived, so I don't know how many people they had in that race.
I warmed up and felt pretty good. I was set to ride conservatively in this race because I was determined not to fall and further damage my injuries. Tara was not happy with my decision to race, but I assured her I would back off the aggressive sections of the course to prevent falling. I also took 4 Ibuprofen 2 hours before the race so I could "take" the pain. I thought about racing the RIP 9 for the extra squish, but brought along my usual JET 9 instead and turned the ProPedal off so I had more compliant squish in the rear.
We lined up and were slated to do 1 full 12 mile lap for the Cat 2 categories. I went into race mode and was in the top 4 off the line on the opening climbs. I had more to give, but kept things in check since I was trying to be cautious. Going into the singletrack at the top of the gravel road climb, the guy in 3rd place (Josh) in front of me took a tumble. I asked if he was okay and he said he was, so I continued on and gave chase to the first two riders. I kept the usual race start gas on for a good 10 minutes before settling into my race pace. I was extra cautious on loose and sandy corners and was riding error free. I let a couple of riders around me and ended up going back around them later on in the race. The clouds had moved in and were providing enough cover that, combined with the wind, made for excellent racing temperatures. It did not feel like the 88-90 degrees that the thermometer said. Rather, it felt 10 degrees cooler which kept us from overheating.
I made it through the rocks with no problems. One of the riders that had passed me stopped at the entrance to the largest rock section - so I took advantage of that and passed him. I passed the other on the open gravel section heading back to the northside of the course. The rider in 3rd place that had fallen earlier, caught up to me and I let him by and stayed on his tail as best I could for the remainder of the race. We passed a guy pushing his bike and I asked him if he had broken his chain and he responded that he had flatted. In spite of being cautious, I gave when I could and felt pretty good crossing the line. It was good enough for 2nd Place in the 45+ category and if I had pushed myself a bit more I was only out of 1st place by 30.1 seconds. There certainly were 30 seconds left out on the course with me being a bit gun shy from the fall 4 weeks ago, but I had to do what I had to do to stay healthy.
2nd Place for CAT 2 45+, 5th overall for the CAT 2 Sport Racers
Kudos to the crew that got the Scout Camp in such good shape. It was in perfect condition and rode extremely well for all of us. I mooched a beer from T.J. after the race and we all stayed to visit, eat pasta from Doughy Joey's and of course - attend the awards ceremony. Fun was had by all and it was a perfect entrance back into racing for me. Not to mention, a good way to blow off some steam after 3 weeks of May Term!!!
I could have raced today in the opening Minnesota Series XC race, but my better judgment said "no - 2 back to back races is too much coming off injuries". I think Tara and I will do part of the High Trestle Trail today if the rain stays away.