Woulda shoulda coulda.
Let me repeat that...
Woulda shoulda coulda.
How about mere seconds count? Yup, it was just a few seconds this weekend that counted for me.
States with an identity crisis? Minnesota Series racing in Wisconsin for the weekend and the Iowa Series racing in Nebraska! Talk about identity crisis.
Okay - enough of that. On to this weekend's race reports....
I had a scheduled rest and recovery week coming into this weekend following two weeks of building fitness for the longer endurance Dakota Five-0 event on Labor Day Weekend. I cooked my legs pretty good by increasing volume and certain types of effort via intervals. The rest and recovery was welcome, but it left me just a little bit flat going into this weekend. I'm not complaining, because I organized and planned things that way.
I wanted to race the final Psycowpath Series event on Saturday and turn right around and do another race on Sunday in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series so I could get as much race pace block training as I could in a weekend. I had done that twice earlier in the season when I did the Nebraska State Championship at Ponca on a Saturday followed by Mt. Kato on Sunday; and the IMBCS race at Summerset on a Saturday followed by the WORS Red Flint Firecracker on Sunday. It cooks your legs, but for block training it's hard to beat. So I knew going into the weekend, especially after a R&R week, I was in for a leg cooking.
New kit comment alert: I got comments at both venues this weekend on the new Bike Iowa kit. Steve Stilwell was the first to point out that my helmet matches the kit. One guy in Nebraska said the kit was busy, but he really liked it. A lady in line for the Kybo in Wisconsin looked me up and down, smiled and made a nice comment. '-}
Psycowpath Swanson (switched from the Lake Manawa course due to sand)
I decided to bring the big Niner RIP 9 to do this race on for some training as that is what I want to run for the Dakota Five-0. It's not as nimble as my JET 9, but the extra cushion of having longer travel and the big volume knobby tires makes for a real comfort endurance machine. It's a few pounds heavier, but comfortable. I arrived at Bellevue, NE a few minutes later than I wanted to for a proper warm-up, but c'est la vie. I registered, got suited up and warmed up as best I could on the pavement. We lined up and all the old guys engaged in our usual pre-race pestering, joking and what not....
I was itching to race - or at the very least, itching to go fast after a 5 day R&R. I got off the starting line and was following the wheel of Jerry Hoff (series leader for the 50-59), only to have two guys cut in front of me at the last second going into the singletrack. Regardless, I muscled the RIP around the course noting it was not as lightfoot and nimble as my JET. However, it makes up for it as a good climber, and it absorbs everything so well it's hard not to smile.
I had Jerry in my sights most of the time during the entire race and left a little gap between us in lap one and lap two. Not that I wasn't trying to close it - because I was. However, I waited until lap three to try to really close the gap in earnest. I kept "charting" the gap by seeing a landmark where he was and then I would time myself to get to that landmark. He was 20 seconds ahead, then 15 seconds, then 13 seconds ahead, then 10 seconds. I kept slowly closing the gap. Jerry is a great descender from all his days on the motorcycle. I would make progress climbing the trails behind him, and on the downhills he would pull away.
I closed the gap to 6 seconds near the end of our final lap. On the final climb, I had planned to use whatever I had left to try and bridge some of the gap and sprint to the line. Somebody was in my way and I couldn't will my body to get it going up the final climb. I watched Jerry take off for the final sprint and all I could do was muster crossing the line 7 seconds behind him. Congrats Jerry on the win! I needed as many points as possible for both the Nebraska Series and the Iowa Series, so coming in 2nd was fine. Woulda, shoulda, coulda gets me no where! I gave it my best, but Jerry had the legs and lungs today. My time was 1:21:54 which, compared to the previous race at Swanson at the beginning of the season where my time was 1:27:14, is an improvement of 5:20 (minutes:seconds). Not bad as both races were dry and fast in terms of soil conditions.
All in all, I was very pleased with how the RIP did out on the course - especially with how fresh it keeps my back and body. I'm hoping that bonus comes in handy on the longer duration 50 mile race. I will find that out on Wednesday evening during a training ride at Lake Ahquabi.
The old guys on the podium after the race...
Bruce Brown 2nd (left), Jerry Hoff 1st (center), Guy German 3rd (right)
I sold Jerry Hoff the extra Yakima bike rack I've had in storage in the shed for several years. It was a replacement from State Farm after I got rear ended by a teenager up in Des Moines way back when. I had never used it, so I'm glad somebody else can get some use out of it now.
I had a burger and beer (great recovery food, right?) while visiting with the Iowa racers (Bart, Cam, Jeff, Tom, Jason, Kevin, Evie, Katherine, etc...). Then I hopped in the Element to make the 2 hour + drive home on 92. Tara had beautiful salmon, cooked spinach and warm bread for dinner. I was in bed by 10 so I could get up Sunday morning early for the long drive to Wisconsin.
Here's a video posted up by Karl "Crash" Kenoyer from one of the laps...
Minnesota Mountain Biking Series Border Crossing
The course was in River Falls, Wisconsin and has served as host in previous years to the Border Battle race which was a combined event for the WORS and the MMBS. WORS backed out of that event this year, but Minnesota decided to have us cross the Mississippi and race there in spite of it being a single state event. I'm glad they did because this course is the cat's meow. It is fun. Roots, rocks, wooden bridges covered in chicken wire, climbs, tight and twisty and great dirt.
I set the alarm for 5:10 with plans to be out the door by 5:30. Turns out, I was wide awake at 4:15 - so I just got up, made coffee, took a shower and was out the door at 5:20. It rained the entire way from Des Moines to the Twin Cities. I saw the sky looked lighter to the east over Wisconsin way and really hoped it was not going to be a muddy mess. The closer I got, the rain stopped and when I pulled in everything was as dry as a bone. It was so cool relative to the prior month of breaking records on the hot side, I needed to wear my jacket for warm-ups. I warmed up slowly, stretched and started hydrating. I could tell my legs were going to be screaming in pain with the effort, but I was here to enjoy the course and get the training effect. I saw Steve Stilwell and visited with him. He had missed the prior 2 races due to being on RAGBRAI, but was now back and this was his home course.
I lined up and swung to the outside off the line as we took off. I was told the opening climb had been graded with a bulldozer in the last few weeks which means the rut I had to jump across last year would be absent. We got to the opening climb and it was covered with large limestone gravel. And there were 5 waterbars to cross (each about 18 inches tall). My legs, heart, knees, and will were not having a good time working together, so I ended up just spinning up the opening climb in suffer mode as I watched the majority of my competition roll away. I just couldn't bring myself to dish out the kind of pain needed for the opening few minutes after yesterday. I crested the climb, looked to the right and saw that the top 4 riders in my age group were all about a minute ahead already. Race over - pretty much, but I wasn't going to give up. I rode a good strong pace the rest of the race, pushing a nice tempo, working my way through some of the crowd and didn't falter at all on any of the technical sections.
I was in a group of 4 of us in the 50-59 group jockeying for the 5-8th spots. I was tailing Mike Franken at the end of lap 1 and passed him to start the repeat of the opening climb only to have him pass me right back and pull ahead on the climb. My legs were shot for the total of 4 doubletrack climbs - and that cost me precious seconds, if not more. I hung with him and pretty much followed him all of lap 2. I was behind Mike and Michael Cisek. On the final doubletrack climb, I hung on their rear wheels and passed Michael at the top of the climb, but couldn't get around Mike. I tailed him the rest of the race figuring it was worth some points. I pushed hard and coming out of the woods and into the final sprint section, I passed Todd Borstand and gave chase to Mike. I was a wheel length behind him going into the cyclocross maze just before the finish line. He turned around and saw me and I readied myself for the final sprint to the line once we got out of the maze.
Ah...weak legs. Mike's big tree trunks pushed out a huge sprint power as I got out of the saddle to utilize my body over my chicken legs for the final sprint. I just couldn't close the gap and catch him. He finished 2 seconds ahead of me for 5th place, and I got 6th. The 4 of us that were fighting for 5/6/7/8 all finished within 18 seconds of each other which is pretty dang close. 9th place was only 23 seconds beyond 8th, so he was in the fight as well. 4th place was 51 seconds ahead of me (the 4 big climbs cost me that). This was one of those races where even though we were too far off the podium spots, there was still a great battle going on underneath for position. I love races like that!!!
Considering the 2nd day in a row of racing, I felt pretty good about my effort. I just didn't have the legs/lungs/heart for the 4 doubletrack climbs like I would have had with fresh legs. In the end, that's really what cost me. My mind would not allow me to face the pain of turning myself inside out on at least 1 or 2 of them - if not all. Or perhaps my body would not allow me - no matter what the mind said. I did on the rest of the course where I kept a very good tempo and the push on my pedals was what I wanted. The JET 9 was flying through the course, but not on those 4 extended grinding climbs. I slowed on one other singletrack climb in lap 2 as well due to my legs being tired and the top CAT 2 female asked to pass in the middle of the climb and I had to move over which slowed my momentum. I did, however, manage to do better on day 2 of this double weekend than on the Summerset/Firecracker weekend where I got burned big time on day 2. In short, one race per weekend is more than enough. However, in this instance, I wanted the stacked training effect of a double effort. Not to mention, the sweet trail was well worth the drive. In my opinion, it's one of the really fun trails to race with all of the features built into the trail.
So I missed out on a bit more glory by 7 seconds on Saturday and 2 seconds on Sunday.
Border Crossing Results for the 12 of us old guys that braved it...
I think I got my desired training effect and will now do one of two final endurance training rides at Lake Ahquabi to prepare for the Dakota Five-0. I would like to get 40-45 miles in on Wednesday, with the following week a bit less duration as the taper starts.