6/4/12

Bike Racing: What a weekend!!! Part 1...

842 miles were driven when one factors in all of the incidental miles driven at each location. That being said - the trip was a really fun trip for us.

We saw a few highlights along the way such as...

The Decatur toll bridge over the Missouri. The home of Johnny Carson. The 2nd oldest settlement in Nebraska. The Omaha Indian Reservation. The highest point in Iowa (1670 feet - woohoo!!). The ice cream capital of the World (LeMars)! The home of the small steam engine. And it seems every little town you pass tries to promote some unique claim to fame.

We arrived at the Maskenthine Recreation Area in Nebraska about 4:45 p.m. and set up our campsite in the tent area. Cost was only $7 per night and we registered upon arrival. We were unpacked and settled in within 15 minutes. We hiked around the disc golf course and found an entrance to the singletrack which we started hiking. Soon, several mountain bikers were cruising by and I got the itch to go back and get the bike to take a trial lap. However, I didn't scratch that itch as my legs were on a recovery day from riding. After about 40 minutes of hiking, we headed back to the campsite and decided it was time for dinner.

The small town of Stanton, Nebraska has a restaurant/bar called The Wolf's Den and it came highly recommended to us for some local color and fare. We walked in just at the tail end of the Friday night dinner rush in Stanton. The place was packed. I think I may have been the only male in the place that was not wearing a baseball or farmer's cap, so we got a lot of stares from the locals. Lynette was our waitress and was as nice as you'll find anywhere. Tara and I decided to split a 16 ounce Ribeye (medium rare of course), and it came with a baked potato and a trip to the salad bar. The meal was fine and can you believe - only $15 for a 16 ounce Ribeye plus $3 for the split charge!!!??? That same meal would have been about $35 in the Des Moines area.

As soon as we walked out to the car following dinner, the thunderstorm hit. Not wanting to be sitting in the tent during the downpour, we drove into Norfolk to take a tour and wait out the storm. We drove around a few of the residential streets and noted it was the home of Johnny Carson. We followed the clouds back to our campground where it had just stopped raining. We settled in for the night noting a crying baby in the neighboring tent, dogs barking and lots of loud talking going on around the campsite. We heard a man throw up not to far from our tent to lots of cheers by his fellow tent mates - and it was a really, really loud, violent vomit to boot. It appeared sleep was going to be difficult at best with the disjunct symphony playing out around us....

The rules of this particular campground stated on the sign and at registration - alcohol strictly forbidden and quiet hours were between 10 pm and 6 am. Ah....too bad there was nobody enforcing those rules. Even with ear plugs and pillows jammed over our heads - it was much too loud to get any real deep sleep until 2 am. So much for a good night's sleep out in fresh air. There were three tents of fishermen two spots over (pretty much not observing the alcohol is forbidden rule) who were loud and up into the wee hours. Wouldn't you know it, they were up at 5 am making noise and talking loudly as they loaded up their boats and heading off to the dock for a day of fishing. I guess we need to hunt for industrial strength ear plugs for our next trip...

We got up on Saturday morning and headed back into Stanton around 8 to get some coffee at Casey's. Casey's was the hopping spot in Stanton on a Saturday morning and the town was having their annual "garage sale day" where garage sales were set up all over town. The place was buzzing with excitement because of it. I got some Cheerios, orange juice and a breakfast biscuit to fuel up for the race which was to begin at 12:10 p.m. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for a June XC race. We drove back to the campsite and I got suited up for the race, drank water for a couple of hours and headed over to register and warm up. Warm ups felt as good as they can after 2 days off the bike and I was ready to go.

P1010002

The race was a very fun event as the Maskenthine singletrack is starting to mature and come into its own compared to previous years where the track was bumpy and a lot of it was on grass. Now the singletrack is branded in throughout, trees are trimmed to perfection and the flow is really good. In fact, I don't recall ever having to worry about squeezing between two trees in any tight spot on the entire 7 mile loop. I like that as it makes for a super fast course.

Due to the 2 days off the bike, I got off to a slow start. And I am still being a tad gun shy with the neck and shoulder. The starter yelled go and it was if I just stood there watching everyone take off before I responded. I was at the very back of the pack in the snap of your finger...

SlowStart at Maskenthine

I just got a bad line, didn't clip in well and got stuck behind most everybody going down the grassy hill into the singletrack. The race used to start at the base of a nice gravel climb the years I did it before which helped spread things out a bit heading into the singletrack. This time, we started at the top of a grassy hill and bombed down the hill into the singletrack.

Video of the loop courtesy of Karl Crash Kenoyer:



I got a little content to settle in during the first 1/2 of lap one in small groups...

InLine at Maskenthine

But soon I started passing and got out into the open to start pushing my pace...

Shredding the Maskenthine XC Race

I did 2 non-eventful - albeit it obviously slow - laps enjoying the trail, the weather and the effort. I ended up in 4th Place for my self-critically acclaimed "meh" performance.

4th Place

We packed up our campsite, and then I showered off before we sallied forth to Manysoda. We drove through the Omaha Indian Reservation and I was very impressed with what I saw compared to other reservations in the Nebraska/South Dakota prairie. We stopped in LeMars for gas and I wanted to show Tara the old campus where I got my undergraduate degree (Westmar College). LeMars is a very beautiful town and reminded us a lot of Pella in terms of houses and how people keep everything clean and beautiful in their lawns. It's very picturesque. For a post race treat, we stopped at the Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in downtown LeMars. I had Huckleberry and Praline Pecan in a cup. Yummy! Then off we went to cross the border into Minnesota....


End of What a weekend Part 1...

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