This won't last long...

The updated IMBCS series points for the 2013 season through race #9 were made available yesterday.  Since I know this won't last long, I figured posting it to enjoy for a few days before it changes would be the only time my name appears at the top.... ;-)

IMBCS Through#9

Andre and Tom will come out in fighting form at The Mullet.  I am sure of that.  Al Boone will be flying out there as well.  And I hope Jerry Hoff makes it over here from Norfolk.   I talked with Landon Beachy about coming over and I am going to try to get in touch with him to make it over to heat it all up.  Hopefully a few others in the 50+ group will show as well to make it a good season ender.  Whether it was Nebraska, Minnesota, or Iowa - competition in the 50+ age class has turned up a notch this year with some really competitive guys making it really fun.  I believe this trend will continue for the 40 - 60+ crowd during the next decade.

Season wise, I cut back on the number of events this year considerably from last year.  Now that I am in full swing at work this fall, my riding hours have dropped off.  And this week and next I am getting Ahquabi in tip top shape for the race along with working long hours at work (there until 10:30 every night).  My annual training plan was targeting 400 - 420 hours and I am currently sitting at 344 hours with the final quarter of the year coming up.  The final quarter of the year is my fun riding quarter that includes a Cyclocross event, singlespeeding at Lake Ahquabi, long fall rides with the wife and just general fun mountain biking along with entering the off season weight lifting.

Now....off to work for a 13 hour day.


IMBCS #9 Summerset Shootout race report...

Saturday was the last full day of summer for 2013.  What better way to celebrate than to race a mountain bike, right?

And it was the day after I turned 52.  And the weather was perfect.  And the race was being held on one of the two local courses - as in home course.  And series point standings were close going into the event.  And the course was in perfect condition with tacky conditions and hero dirt awaiting us.

I was looking forward to the race and felt like my legs were coming into some good year end form.  Having a weekend off prior with no racing helped the legs get some snap back into them.  We had a Quarter Rage Time Trial at Banner on the Wednesday after the Sycamore race, and I felt good turning a decent lap time that included the new section of trail called Extra Credit.

I loaded up the car Saturday morning and headed out to check in around 11 am for the high noon Shootout.  It's a clever race name thanks to the gun shooting range located at Summerset State Park.  Rick Blackford and Team Rassy had gone out of their way to make this event tick.  I had a mild panic attack as I opened the back of my Element to pull out my JET 9.  The front tire was completely flat even though I had just aired up my tires at home in the garage to my preferred psi.  WTF!!!

Luckily, I had my sealant and valve core remover with me - so I added sealant and aired up.  Back in business.  Whew!  I did the same on the rear tire just to be safe as it obvioulsy has been long enough that they were in need of some more sealant.  I picked up my number plate which was handed to me by Sue Cook sporting her new hip and her lovely sidekick Mr. Kim West.  We even had fun fuzzy and colorful twisty ties to use for mounting our number plates on the bike.  I chose bright neon orange and made deer antlers out of the fuzzy extra length.  I headed out to warm up and went through Extra Credit, followed by Riverside a couple of times.

Turnout looked to be good for the race.  I lined up on the outside next to the pavement's edge in the front row of the CAT 2 start.


Photo courtesy of Steve Fuller

Tom Jeffreys was lined up on the opposite side, Andre Rethman and Ron Cooney were lined up over near me.  Waves started in 3 minute increments, so CAT 1 men, CAT 1 women, and COMP all went off before us.  Our turn came and I wanted to sprint so I could go into the singletrack top 10 because the opening section of singletrack is pretty tough to make a move and pass for a long time.  I settled in a few spots behind Tom and went into the singletrack where the game of hurry up and wait began.  It was crowded and I knew there would be some jockeying for position going on.  It didn't take long until some crashes happened and one guy was even upside down over in the weeds on the right side as we rode over the first log with the white wooden bridge.  I asked if he was okay and motored on when I heard him rustling in the weeds.

The dirt was in perfect shape, but we were tire to tire.  Climbing one of the sharp short steep climbs before heading across the first bridge that cross the water Ron Cooney was in front of me trying to ride on a rear tire that had burped and was nearly out of air.  I had to dismount because he nearly stopped on a short steep climb and I had nowhere to go around him.  Andre was right behind me so I straddled my top tube and sort of ran it up the hill where I could get clipped in and going again.  Banged the heck out of my shin on the left pedal which started to bleed and throb.  I didn't have my air can with me and Ron didn't have one either, so after we crossed the wooden bridges, I went around him and told him sorry about his unfortunate circumstance.

Dropping the steep drop on the north side...


Photo courtesy of Katherine and Eric Roccasecca

By the time I had made it to the next sharp turn, I looked behind me and had built up a good gap on Andre and those behind me.  So off I went pushing myself, but in control.  I know these trails so well and how they ride in dry conditions, I was pleasantly surprised how tacky they were from the 1+ inch of rain we had on Thursday.  One of the steep climbs I found three guys pushing their bikes and I rode by them up the hill which was a nice easy way to move up 3 positions.  I really didn't encounter any more traffic after that.  I was riding error free and didn't have any bobbles or dabbles during lap 1.  I kept the chain in the big ring on my 2 x 9 for the entire race and used a higher cadence most of the time on anything flat to save my legs for the grunt climbs.

Flying through and thoroughly enjoying the new section known as Extra Credit...


Photo courtesy of Steve Fuller 

Lap 2 began well and I forced myself not to overcook the opening section just as you enter the dirt from the pavement on the NW side of the park.  I had overcooked myself in that section during our Quarter Rage Time Trial and wasted a lot of effort pedaling hard and going nowhere fast.  I kept a good flow and was able to pass other riders from previous waves that had slowed as well as catch up to a few from my wave that were ahead of me.  No sight of Tom Jeffreys, so I knew he must of had a good two minutes on me.  Jason Plunkett caught up to my rear and was behind me until we exited the north side dirt and hit the pavement stretch south to Riverside.  He went around me and I tucked in behind him to follow him through Riverside.  We passed Carmen Woelber who is having a really good season.

Coming out of Riverside, there were 3 of us pushing it on the pavement to get to the final section called Extra Credit.  I didn't want to blow up my legs, but I did want to hang with Jason and make this a race all the way to the end.  Jason passed a gal from the CAT 1 race that started 6 minutes before ours (we had already passed 4 of them up to this point) just before we entered Extra Credit, and I was behind her going into the dirt.  After the first 50 yards of extra credit, I began asking to get around her as Jason was getting away and she was holding me up.  I tried asking her a few times and called out what side I wanted to pass on, but she wouldn't let me around her.  Hmmmm....

Here we were coming through Extra Credit...


Photo courtesy of Steve Fuller 

I finally just had to give up as she was not going to yield the trail no matter what.  So I rode behind her out of Extra Credit and passed her on the pavement.  I got 2nd place, but lost out on my chance to stick with Jason and sprint to the line against him to compete in the overall finish order.  Oh well, it's all for fun.    

Al Boone rode like a champ in the old man's group with me and had a good showing.  He'll be flying at Ahquabi as well.  We just need to get him out to do more races!!!!  Tom cleaned my clock by a little more than 2 1/2 minutes.  He's the reason why I have seven 2nd Place finishes this year and is a good strong rider that is destined to take the Iowa series this year if he simply finishes the race at Ahquabi.  Congrats to Tom who won the Psycowpath Series and was top banana at the Shootout on Saturday.

50+ Results for the Shootout...

Banner 50+ Results

Rick Blackford and the entire Rassy crew did a great job with this race.  Kudos to all of you.  And a super KUDO to trail wizzard master Bob Matthews for all the hours he has graciously donated of his time to work the trails at Banner and get them into tip-top shape for this year's event.  We always need more help out on the mountain bike trails to maintain them as the jungle grows.  Knock, knock.  Hello.  Is anybody listening? 

I couldn't stay for the awards ceremony as I had to get to Simpson to opera rehearsal, but I was there long enough for some schwag drawings and won a pair of Oakley sunglasses.  Sweet.

After opera rehearsal, I got showered up and the family took me to Flemings for the official birthday dinner.  All in all, a pretty fun last day of summer.

Reminder:  The Mullet Fall Classic is October 5th at Lake Ahquabi State Park.  You can register online at USA Cycling.  Here is the link.


Aging Endurance Athletes...

I've been enjoying reading Joe Friel and others with regard to the aging endurance athlete.  No doubt my turning age 52 tomorrow contributes to my fascination with on the bike performance this year compared to previous years.

Thinking back to age 35-45 and how I recovered from an opera performance, a run, a bike ride, a hike, a Little League practice (coached), etc... I certainly am well aware that in my early 50's - recovery is different now than it was "back then".  Diet and how I respond is also different now than it was then.  Heck, getting out of bed in the morning is different now than it was then.  And that's not going to change!!!  As part of the aging Baby Boomer population who are fitter and more active than our parents were at our age, I continue to be fascinated with reading as much as I can about how the aging athlete performs, recovers, trains, eats, sleeps, etc... . 

Joe Friel as a whole series of blog posts going on about it that I find really interesting.  Joe is dealing with his own reality of age 69 turning 70.  His blog posts about it all can be found here.

A report released on the Master's Athlete is also quite an interesting read and can be found here.

It will remain a subject that is sure to garner more study, more articles, and more thoughts as the aging population continues to run, cycle, swim, hike, and participate in endurance events.  I will stay tuned to what is being said, as well as how my body and mind are responding.  I can certainly attest to the level of competition in my age category for mountain bike racing - be it in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, or Wisconsin.  It's great to see other guys my age taking excellent care of themselves and participating.  It doesn't keep us young, but it does keeps us fit.  Physically and mentally.

I am currently in a very busy part of my fall semester trying to balance sleep, work, and exercise.  I am stage directing 2 operas (Suor Angelica by Puccini and Curlew River by Britten) that will be performed October 11/12/13.  We hold 4 hour rehearsals every evening and on weekends.  Those duties require a non-stop stress level of problem solving, no time to eat, and requires a generous portion of my energy.  I am hosting a mountain bike race on October 5th.  It seems when it gets really busy, there are always additional things that come along just when you don't need it (committee work, everyone needs letters of recommendation at once, extra meetings,  things need "fixing", and the list just grows like rising flood water as you watch things crest).  And I still have at least 1, if not 2 races I want to do before hanging up the 2013 season - so I keep my weekly maintenance hours of intensity and recovery to stay in some assemblance of form.

Hence, I turn 52 overnight and actually feel it at the moment with miles to go before I sleep tonight.  I'm short on preparation time for this evening's rehearsal, I have no time to eat, I have no time to work in 2 extra meetings today which I have to do and I still have not organized a few things for the operas and the race that need to be done like yesterday!!!  Well - it's no wonder that I woke up this morning making my target goal racing weight!!!

Ain't stress grand for shedding pounds?

I'm hoping to sneak in a piece of something like this on Saturday night (the time my schedule and family can gather to celebrate my rolling over of the age odometer).


Saturday is the IMBCS #9 Summerset Shootout at Banner Pits.  Race, rehearse, celebrate will be my Saturday schedule with a noon race, followed by a mult-hour opera rehearsal, followed by a celebration dinner with the family.  Then a good night's sleep and right back to Sunday's opera rehearsing.  Nothing like running the batteries low!  Luckily, I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night on a very consistent basis.  I hope that helps me maintain my current level of insanity...


IMBCS #8 Sycamore Trails race report...

The XC racing season is winding down, and now that the academic school year is in full swing, work is consuming my time and energy.  But I did manage to fit a race in on Sunday.

120 or so racers lined up to race the IMBCS #8 Sycamore Trails (Code Name:  The Maharry) loop this past Sunday.  Kyle Sedore, Rob Versteegh, Chris Maharry, the Varnums and the BikeIowa.com team put on an excellent event "under the bridge" just north of I-80.

It's about a 45 minute drive from Indianola and I arrived at the Beaverdale Little League parking lot at 9:05 just in time to get registered and warmed up for the race.  I went out with fellow team member Kurt Benson for a partial pre-ride lap and then did a couple of harder effort intervals to pump up the heart rate for the opening of the race.

Dry, dust, and humidity seemed to rule the day.  Luckily, cloud cover held temperatures in check for the 1st part of the day as things got underway for the 10 a.m. race which included CAT 2, FAT BIKES, Juniors, and CAT 3.

I lined up in the front row next to Simpson colleague Jason Uhlenhake.  I saw fellow team member Bruce Reese lined up in the middle of the front row, and Andre Rethman over on the far left side in the front row as well.


Photo courtesy of Nick Woolley

I knew for my age class, Andre was going to be hard to beat because of the type of course it was.  I asked Andre where Tom Jeffreys was because he had posted up on Facebook about camping near this race and participating.  Andre said his van was in the parking lot, but Tom was not lined up.  No time to go hunt him down, but he thought the race started at noon according to a message he sent me on Sunday night.  He was obvioulsy upset with himself and I'm sorry he missed out as he would have been the favorite to win our age group for sure.

We were given the countdown and we all sprinted down the pavement to make the right hand bender into the dirt.  I managed to stay up front and tuck in behind the front 5 or 6 riders going into the dirt for a nice lively opening pace on what seemed to be pretty much a powers to the pedal all the time type of layout since the course is flat.  Fellow team member Bruce Reese was in front of me as was Jason.  Not long after we got going on the opening section of dirt, Dave Mable asked to pass me and he moved up to join the group in front of me.

Knifing through the opening north bound section, I kept closing the small gap to the front 5 who would pull away a bit, and then I would hook back on to hang with them.  On one of the sharper double corners, Jason and Bruce went down and I passed them as they were getting up and dusting themselves off.  They both looked to be okay.  Andre Rethman was on my wheel as we cruised through lap 1 which proved to be more or less uneventful for us outside of being passed a couple of times.  Jason caught back up to us and went around us as we finsihed lap 1.  We had 2 more laps to grind out on this always on the gas loop which would allow plenty of possibilities for things to unfold.

Lap 2 was much the same until we made the turn at the north end.  Dave Mable was up ahead of us and I kicked it up a notch while we passed Dave who then latched on to the back of Andre's wheel to stay with us.  I thought about backing off enough to get Andre to go around me so he could pull for some of the race, but every time I did ease off a bit, he just stayed put behind me.  So on we went to finish out lap 2.

Lap 3 still found me leading this formed trio with Andre, and Dave right behind me.  The three of us were still in the top 10 or so in the CAT 2 overall standings if I had figured right based on how many were in front of us or who had passed us.  I motored on wishing this course had some long steep hills to climb in hopes I could create a gap.  No such luck on this flat course.  And there was no moments for any recovery as one was always pushing on the pedals.  I would push the pace at times hoping to see if I could create any sort of small gap by stretching the rubber band of our trio's alignment, but nothing was really sticking.

Making the turn from the north end back to the south end, I didn't realize it at the time, but Andre went down on the sharp turn coming out of the forest.  I heard about all of this after the race from Andre (who showed me the battle wounds on his arm) and Dave.  I was too focused on pushing a pace on the long flat section back to the finish/start area that didn't totally cook my goose, but was enough to drop Dave with a gap.  Andre caught back up to me as we made the approach to the bridge, but I didn't even know he had not been there for a time due to his crash.  

I figured Andre was planning on launching an attack at any moment and I was hopeful I had something left in the legs to counter.  Sure enough, he launched and I tried to counter to tuck in behind him, but that didn't last very long as I didn't have the fire power left in my legs after pulling for 3 laps.  I watched Andre open up a gap as we went under the bridge and rode the final flat section.  It was pretty much a repeat of last year's Iowa Games race on a similar type of course when Andre used that big engine of his and pulled away on the flats from me to leave me in the dust!!!   Just before the final turn back to the finish line, a younger CAT 2 rider (Anthony Herrera) buzzed by me and I had to be content to follow Andre and Anthony to the finish line as we took 8th/9th/10th places respectively for CAT 2 overall.

I think I ended up in 2nd Place for the 50+ age group with Andre taking 1st Place, but I'm not sure exactly as I had to take off for a rehearsal followed by our music department's fall picnic.  I hopped up on the wall under the bridge to sit and visit a bit with Bob Matthews and Bart (Daren Bartauk) as I cooled down before having to take off for the 1 p.m. music rehearsal. 

Overall results on the left and the order of the "old guys" in the CAT 2 race...

8 Andre Rethman 50+ (1st)
10 Bruce Brown 50+ (2nd)
14 Brian Swain 50+ (3rd)
24 Dave Hammer 50+ (4th)
26 Sterling Heise 50+ (5th)
29 Dan Bach 60+
33 Brian Depenning  50+
35 Tom Laughead 50+

Kudos to Kyle, Rob and all of the BikeIowa.com squad that helped put on the event for the excellent work!!!  The course layout and venue were an excellent addition to the IMBCS season.


IMBCS #8 - Sycamore Trails pre-ride...

Wednesday night and Thursday morning were filled with singing at services.  I was in need of a workout on a bike, so after work on Thursday I was bound and determined to head up to Sycamore Trails and survey the loop as I haven't ridden there in quite a few years.  In fact, it was a one way time trial the last time I rode there in 2009 and I was on the old 2004 Gary Fisher Sugar 293 for that event...

Sycamore TT 2

Katherine Roccasecca was gracious enough to meet me at 6:15 for a tour of the loop.  There were quite a few people out riding the trail.  I chatted with fellow team member Bruce Reese about his Dakota Five-0 race and trip last weekend.  Gathering for the loop under the start/finish bridge, 4 of us set off for a lap of the race course.  Katherine led the way and pointed out key features of the trail in terms of where the sand was, where one needed to build up a head of steam to make a short steep climb, etc... .  I quickly noted this would be a different type of race as the majority of the singletrack is flat at Sycamore and allows for zero recovery as one is always pedaling.

There is only one downhill on the north end, and one short downhill at the turn on the southwest end.  The rest of the trail is power to the pedals the entire time.  How to pace that and apply it to a race situation will be different than the short sharp bursts of climbing and descending in a course that is filled with hills.  The course at Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs is very similar, and a similar strategy or style of racing/riding is required on that course.  Having Sycamore Trails in the IMBCS is a great addition as I am very much in support of a diverse set of race courses for the series.  The more variety we have, the better as each type of course provides different challenges.

Following the lap with Katherine (thank you very much for showing it to me!!!!), I headed out for a 2nd lap behind BikeIowa.com Team Leader Scott Sumpter.  Scott claimed he knew the loop enough to find the correct turns, so I tucked in behind him.  He paced us at a pretty good clip to see what the trail feels like at race speed.  The sun was setting enough that wearing my Oakley dark lenses was making it very difficult to see in the shade.  I left them on purely to keep dust and bugs out of the eyes, and simply followed Scott's wheel.  There are repeated accelerations required coming out of turns which add up and will be key in the race to maintaining position and momentum.  The trail was baked dry and is currently running very fast.

By the time we finished our lap, I felt I had a good grasp of the route and also felt like I had put out some good sweet spot to higher end effort for the day to meet my needs for some intensity.  I will probably drive up for another pre-ride on Saturday morning, weather permitting.  I've got a weekend of prep time for directing the two fall operas as well as a rehearsal in Des Moines on Sunday afternoon for next weekend's services, followed by a Music Department picnic to attend.  

Head on out this Sunday to race as it promises to be fun for all!!!  Details of the race can be found here at BikeIowa.com.



MNMBS #9 - Laddies Loppett race report...

Labor Day Weekend seems to fall into one of two recent traditions over the course of the past 5 or 6 years:  either drive a long way in the car to participate in the Dakota Five-O race in Spearfish, South Dakota - or drive a long way in the car to participate in the Minnesota Mountain Biking event known as Laddies Loppett at Maplelag Resort north of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

The former is a 10 hour drive, the latter is a 7 1/2 hour drive.  Add in stops for lunch, fueling up the car, using the restroom, etc... and the time is even longer for travel.  We chose the latter for this year thinking the drive would be less grueling and to use as a summer ending camping trip with our good friend Lisa.  The unbearable heat on Friday of 104 degrees meant that packing up the car would be saved for Saturday morning when things were in the 70's.   This meant a 10:15 a.m. departure which was not ideal, but the delay was strictly weather related.  About an hour north of Des Moines, we realized we had forgotten most of our prepared evening's meal in the refrigerator back home thanks to a hasty packing job and failure to double check everything before departing.  Nothing we could do at that point, but to alter our dining plans for the evening meal.

We arrived at Maplelag Resort around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday after only a few stops along the way for lunch, to stretch, use the restroom, etc... .  Just as we were half way through the process of setting up our tents, a thunderstorm hit and we frantically got the tents set up and took cover in the Element while the storm blew over.  The gals were soaked and after finishing our set up, needed to change into dry clothing.  I remained slightly soaked and decided to "rough it" as I was.  After all, we were camping.  We headed into Detroit Lakes and hit up the Fireside for fresh Walleye, asparagus, salad and of course - a slice of Red Velvet cake to split 3 ways...


By the time we climbed into our tents, the sky was clear, the stars - being so far north and away from a major city's lights - were vivid, and seemingly at arm's reach.  Beyond beautiful would be my description of the stars at night being that far north.  We all fell into a nice slumber and got a good 9 hours of sleep.

The forecast that I thought I had read for Sunday's XC race was sunshine and in the 60's.  We climbed out of our tents to cloud covered skies and a mist nearing rain.  Surely, I thought, the sun would burn this off in time for the race.  I was wrong.  The morning was cold and damp.  We made our oatmeal and coffee and dined while wearing rain gear.  Each of us harbored our desire to complain about the weather as we remained optimistic the sun would poke out and make everything right.

I did my usual warm-up in the wet mist wondering if the trail would be slick due to the previous evening's rain and the non-stop mist.  Nothing seemed to be sticking to anyone's tires, so I figured the trails would ride just fine - mist, or no mist.  I took a GU packet and my water bottle over to the starting line area to get lined up and ready for the day's event.  I lined up with my wave and noted Steve Kapaun from Wisconsin was in attendance.  I hadn't seen him since last year and we chatted a bit about how his racing in the WORS series was going this year.  Our wave was off and running.

In a normal dry year at Laddies Loppett, the start looks like this...


And highlights from last year in more favorable weather were captured well in this video...

This year we were shivering from the upper 50 degree temperatures and mist that was falling.  But in the opening section, I tucked in behind Steve knowing he is a good strong rider.  The first "loop" was that of the Citizen Category loop and I stayed on Steve's wheel.  Crossing the finish line are, we made a sharp right to go down into the Lakeside Drops area to do one loop of that area.  Here I am behind Steve who is wearing the blue cycling kit in front of me...


The lakeside drops are always a fun technical section where we ride up and down along the shoreline of the lake over rocks, short steep climbs and descents, with tight turns through the trees.  Spectators gather in this area to view the carnage, cheer, heckle, enjoy, etc... .  Evidence of that can be seen in this video taken during the 2012 Laddies Loppett...

As you can see from that video, the section remains a challenge for many riders as so many people fall down in these sections.  The same held true this year with soil that was not so dry.  On one of the short steep climbs, 2 or 3 guys in front of me dismounted and forced those of us behind them to dismount as well.  I had a tough time getting clipped back in after that and didn't know if it was due to mud on my shoe or just failure to get the pedals lined up correctly, but it cost me a bit as Steve pulled away and passed a couple of riders.  Once I got going, we descended into another lakeside drop and hit the steepest climb coming out of those drops and again - a dismount in front of me forced me to dismount and run it up the hill.  Again, I had difficulty getting clipped back into the pedals once I got to the top of the climb.  I'm not sure what was up with that, but it seemed like it took an eternity for me to get back into the pedals.  Those are precious seconds that are hard to make up during the race - and I knew it!!!

Believe it or not, this happened a 3rd time and I was getting frustrated.  I'll have to take a look at my cleats to see if they are worn, because I don't remember having that much difficulty before.

The roots - and there are a lot of roots on the trails at Maplelag - made for a bumpy time making me thank myself for racing a full suspension.  There were some nice technical features - both natural on the trail, and man made - that keeps one on their toes during this race.  Be it roots, rocks, climbs, descents, stairs (yes there are stairs one has to descend)....


....a wooden bridge, or tight turns - it's a heads up ride for most of the loop.

We went on a section that I couldn't recall from prior years I had been there, but looks to have been part of the race last year as well and it routed us over a wooden bridge...


I'm sure there will be more pictures from this year's event as I saw a couple of photographers out there at key technical feature points on the trail.  The trees were in vivid green display, and there were actually a few spots of dry dirt here and there that the trees had protected from the rain and the mist.   Most of the rest of the trail had lots of hero dirt throughout as the soil needed moisture and soaked up the mist quite well.   I had no mud on my tires or bike at the end of the race, so it was not muddy by any means.  The mist had stopped falling at some point during our race.

Here is a typical shot from dry conditions....


In this newer to me loop section that included the wooden bridge, I caught up to the racer in my age class that actually ended up getting 3rd Place.  I was on his tail, and at one point we rode by some spectator friends or family of his who cheered him on enthusiastically.  Before I could pass him, he got a 2nd wind and started to pull away from me.  I did my best to hang with him and close the gap, but couldn't quite reel him in as he and I passed several slower riders from previous waves.  I passed several that had passed me earlier in the race on the sections where I had trouble getting clipped back into my pedals after a few forced dismounts.  I felt this last loop was my best riding of the day, but it was too little too late.

I hammered the final cross country skiing trail section to the finish line passing 3 more riders from other start waves.  I crossed the line in 5th place, 31 seconds behind 4th place and 40 seconds off of the podium for my age group.   


There was only a minute, seventeen second spread covering 1st to 5th place in this race which meant any bobbles, crashes, difficulty in a technical section, etc... could determine the placing of all of us.  That's some nice tight competition and keeps it fun!


I had a lot of fun on the always technical and fun singletrack at Maplelag.  The mist and cooler temperatures didn't seem to dampen our enthusiasm and racing abilities at all.  It was still overcast, but the mist had stopped falling.  I headed back to the campsite to get cleaned up and change out of my cycling clothes.  Kudos must be given to the entire staff and crew for hosting such a fun event at Maplelag Resort.

Our original plan after the race was to take Tara and Lisa into Detroit Lakes so they could ride their road bikes around the lake and then have pizza at Zorbaz.  They decided not to ride as it was too cold (58 degrees), so we drove around the lake and ended up at Zorbaz for a mid-afternoon lunch.  While we were inside eating, the sun came out and the day suddenly turned friendly.  The temperature rose to 67 degrees and it was crystal clear outside.  We headed out on the beach to walk in the sand for about an hour and dipped our feet in the lake.  We sat down in a sunny spot on the shore in the grass and visited, napped, watched all the boats head out on the lake now that it was sunny.  It was 4 p.m. and perfect for a bike ride, but the bikes were back at the resort.  Oh well, we spent about 2 hours enjoying the sand by strolling around before heading back to Maplelag for a 2nd night of camping.

Back at the resort, we went for a walk on some of the cross country skiing trails.  That lasted until the mosquitoes attacked me with a vengenance even though I was covered in Cutters.  Back to the campsite we went with me swatting at the flying critters.  We cooked our dinner and ate around 8:30 pm while enjoying a good visit and staring at the stars.  Lisa checked about the availability of a particular cabin for next year, and found it was already booked for Labor Day weekend 2014!!!  Oh well.  After another 9+ hour sleep, we woke up to overcast skies, but no mist this time.  We packed up on Monday morning and left at 9:15 for the drive home.   The sun came out just south of Albert Lea and it was blue sky the rest of the way home.

A fun weekend for sure, but the long drive - be it to the Black Hills or up to Detroit Lakes - puts the Labor back into the weekend no matter how you slice it...