My road bike was set aside this weekend to hop back on my JET 9 mountain bike to hit up some fine XC trail built and maintained by K.O.R.C. in River Falls, Wisconsin. The Border Crossing is the name given to the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series for crossing the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to hold the race in the state of Wisconsin. Prior to last year, it was a joint race between the Wisconsin and Minnesota XC series. The past 2 years it has been a part of the Minnesota series only as the two separate series parted ways for what used to be a fun joint event between WORS and MNMBS.
Tara and I drove up Saturday afternoon and pitched our tent about 5:30 on Saturday afternoon in the open meadow of the corporate park that is used for the staging area of the Border Crossing race. Being a "primitive" camping situation (no showers, no water, and Kybos for toilets) - I brought along our new purchase of a Northwest Territory shower "tent" which you can see pitched to the right of our Kelty Hula House 6 tent. Here's our camping spot in River Falls...
Trying to garner one more day of recovery after Thursday's 42 mile ride, I decided not to do a practice lap once our tents were all set up. I've raced here at least 4 times and figured I knew what to expect. The decision to save my legs another day I felt was more prudent. I had done a morning recovery spin on the regular dog walk, so at least a bit of active recovery had been done.
Me standing next to my K-Mart purchase: the Northwest Territory shower tent...
We had looked up online some nice restaurants in Hudson, Wisconsin to hit up for Saturday night dinner, but decided to save the driving time of 10 miles each way and just head into River Falls to see what we could find. We asked a guy on the street what he would personally recommend, and he said Bo's 'N Mine was a good place to go with an all you can eat ribs Saturday night dinner special. Sounded good to me. Not ideal pre-race nutrition, but my breakfast and lunch had been healthy choices - so why not?
Tara brought along her road bike to get some riding in for the weekend, so we scoped out a 20 mile ride she could do Sunday morning. We took Main Street through River Falls and then turned south on 770th Avenue which was a nice country black top road with a speed limit of 35 mph. The road was very scenic and several farms with horses were on the route. So we stopped to take a picture of a mother with her colt (who was frisky and enjoyed showing off for us by running tight circles and coming over to lick our hands).
Following the development of where Tara would ride her route on Sunday morning, we headed back into town, parked the car and went into Bo's 'N Mine for our dinner. They had about 10 beers on tap, and we went with Leinenkugel's Red Lager. I ordered the rib dinner while Tara got the Turkey Burger.
Red Lager and a smile...
As we waited for our dinner to be prepared, in walked a bridal shower group of about 20 ladies who hit the bar and were quickly having fun. Tara took a lot of pictures of them, but here's the bride to be and some of her friends posing for us by our table...
The "friends" made the bride wear an exterior pink bra and hat as part of their shenanigans. I won't go into the details of the particular shenanigans, but we enjoyed watching the group have fun as we waited for our food.
After dinner (which actually tasted pretty good), we headed back for a good night's sleep in the cool temperatures (dropped down to near 52 degrees) in our Hula House. We went to bed about 10 p.m. and I slept straight through until 8 a.m. which my body dearly needed!!!!
As things at the race registration table were starting to buzz and get going for the morning's events, we headed over to the nearby McDonald's for oatmeal, and coffee. Our campsite was only about a half mile from the McDonald's, so we headed right back after eating so Tara could get suited up for her road ride that we had scouted out the night before.
Tara took off on her road bike for a 2 hour ride, and I went through my routine of getting the Niner JET 9 ready for the race, brushing my teeth, making my drink for the race (Hammer Nutrition HEED), got registered and ran into Jerry Hoff from Norfolk, Nebraska who was there for his 2nd consecutive MMBS race. He had taken his son to a Minnesota Twins game the night before and decided he could also fit the race in before heading back to Nebraska. It was good to see him there and enjoying one of the great series events. After visiting with Jerry, I got suited up and headed out for my warm-up routine.
My legs felt pretty so-so after the initial 20 minute Zone 1 portion, so I moved into Zone 2, and then Zone 3 before I ran into Steve Stillwell from Hudson. We rode together and chatted about RAGBRAI (he has done 28 of them!!!!) and what shape our legs were in - or not in - after the previous week of riding across Iowa. Steve was sporting a sharp looking new bike from Vassago. I finished my warm-ups and headed to the line for the start. The weather was perfect and the turnout was really good for this event because of it. In fact - 417 racers had shown up for the day. Our age class alone was stacked with nearly 20 racers (compared to most events having 8 or 9 show up). The regular top guys were there in our group, and quite a few excellent riders who don't normally show up at the Minnesota races were in the group. So who knew how it would all shake out as the race unfolded?
My goal was no more or less than just to finish the race after what I put the legs through last week and this week with not as much recovery as I had anticipated. The weather was perfect. The soil was perfect. I was hydrated, fed and ready to roll. As the gun went off, I jockeyed over to the left side for the opening jeep trail climb. My wave had the 45-49 riders, the 50-59 riders, and the 60+ riders and the FAT BIKES. I settled in on the opening climb spinning up the climb not wanting to red line too soon right out of the gate on the climb. I now know I could have given more, but I wasn't sure that I could at the time. After realizing I could up it, I did manage to start passing on the 2nd half of the opening climb and made up some ground after the summit as we made our way through an open meadow before hitting the singletrack. But I was way back in the long line from the leaders of the train going into the singletrack.
I settled in behind Tom Bengel who races in the 60+ group. I know I am faster than Tom, but I probably remained behind him about 4 minutes too long before I asked to pass him. There were several on my tail asking to get by before that, but I just hung to Tom's wheel until he moved over and off I went. I quickly closed the gap that was between Tom and the line of riders ahead of him. I passed riders when I could during lap one to try and move up.
The course had phenomenal flow and the dirt was in perfect shape. Heat was not a factor as temperatures were cool and comfortable. We had some fast speeds going because of it. It was also very dusty due to things being so dry which added a nice cloud in various spots throughout the course. I felt really good at the end of lap 1. After going through the Cyclocross Pinwheel near the start/finish area....
...I launched into a nice climb for lap 2 that had me flowing quite well. At some point in lap 2, Jerry Hoff caught up to me. Jerry and I traded back and forth last year at most events we did in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. Ahead of me, I saw Steve Stilwell and closed the gap to his rear wheel. I was able to go around him on one of the passsing sections before our final section of singletrack.
Just before I went around Steve - who was right in front of me - in one of the open passing sections...
Coming out of the final singletrack section, I put it in sprint mode to pass one more rider (a Clydesdale from the previous wave) before going into the Cyclocross pinwheel near the finish line and held him off to cross the line.
Final tally had me in 8th place out of the 18 for my age group. Not as high up in the placings as I would have liked to have been, but the field was stacked with some good competition and some guys are really riding well at this point in the season after enduring the long winter and lack of spring. A couple of guys were just 18 and 24 seconds ahead of me in my age group. Overall, I was 57th out of the 124 CAT 2 Sport male racers for all age classes. Mid-pack of the bunch.
It was one of those races where some nice battles for the middle positions within the ranks was worthwhile racing in spite of us not fighting for podium spots. I was happy with my race effort today considering RAGBRAI and the recovery needed. No complaints except I know I should have hammered the opening climb more than I did. C'est la vie! My mind and body just didn't coordinate themselves on that opening climb as I would have liked. Would it have made a difference? Who knows? I was 4:18 off the winner and am content - actually very pleased - with the day's effort coming off of RAGBRAI. Bottom line is I had fun on a great course on a great weather day. And my finish time was 2:51 faster this year over my finish time in last year's Border Crossing. I'll take that!!!
Kudos to K.O.R.C. for a great course that was in perfect shape. I know they had to be pleased with the huge turnout for the day of over 400 racers.
I hopped in our new camping shower tent after the race before Tara and I tore down the camp site and headed home. How fun is this? Having a shower to bring along for the primitive campsites is pretty cool and didn't cost that much.
This qualifies as the goofiest picture this year to date that my wife has taken!!!
After we crossed the St. Croix River and were back in Minnesota, we stopped at Chipotle for a burrito lunch, and then hit up Cariboux Coffee in Owatonna for some Jause to keep us awake and alert for the crowded Sunday afternoon interstate driving on I-35.
Next weekend is a Saturday race in Iowa that will be held at Memroial Park in Ida Grove. The event is the joint Psycowpath/IMBCS race for the season. It shoud be really fun as it is a great course with lots of fun off camber stuff and a nice long screaming descent near the end of each lap. I only have 5 days to recover, so I will be cautious this week as I mix some trail maintenance work, yard work, gardening, bike training, and chores around the house.