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...
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.