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...
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.