3/30/14

Psycowpath #1 Swanson Shoot Out race report...

Welcome to the Nebraska Lottery Psycowpath Mountain Bike Trail and Running Series!!!

Those are the words that greeted us loud and clear by series director, Ryan Feagan as he jawboned his way through the day on the wireless microphone as the ever entertaining up to date announcer an all matters racing.  Many of us had to keep pinching ourselves that we were actually crawling out of hibernation from a long winter and about to race our mountain bikes - even though many of us had not ridden on dirt since last November.

I drove over and arrived about 11:15 AM in time to register.  Nebraska, like Minnesota, made the decision to not go with USA Cycling this year - so that made registration easy and less costly for everyone involved.  After I got my number plate on the bars, and the timing chip secured to the leg of my fork, I headed out for 20 or so minutes of warm up in temperatures that were still nippy enough to require pants and my cycling coat with full finger gloves.

The sun was shining and I saw a lot of smiles as people were happy to be out racing to kick the season off.  I don't know the full count, but I think they had over 200+ racers there which is very encouraging.  We actually had enough guys in each age group to do start waves with my group getting our own start.  There were 11 of us pre-registered for the 50+ group...

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Once we were off, the opening sprint had me tailing along in 4th...

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That's Tom, Jerry, Mark, and myself.  Tom won everything last year in Nebraska, so he was the marker.  Jerry and I have traded spots off and on for a few years now.  And he's looking svelte and trim again this year which means he's ready to race!!!  And Mark had me at the line last year at Swanson and has beaten me at Ida Grove - so it was going to be a fun day.  There was a pretty big group of riders out on the course doing the Marathon and since our group was the last in the start waves, we caught up to a lot of slower riders from groups that had started in front of us.  Sterling recently rebuilt my REBA XX fork as it was shot.  I noticed immediately what a huge difference it made to have a functioning fork with nice squish up front.  Wow!  It felt great!!! 

Tom and Mark moved around Jerry at some point in the first part of lap 1, and I followed suit to move into 3rd place with Jerry settling in behind me.  I hung with Tom and Mark for a good part of lap 1 and kept getting stuck behind riders they were passing.  Often, there is time for 1 or 2 guys to pass in a section, but not always enough time or space for a 3rd guy to also go around.  So, I kept being the odd man left out on the passes.  Little gaps started to open up between the lead two and myself, and after I finally would pass a rider or group of riders I would work hard to close that gap hoping to hang on for as long as I possible.  After we crossed the road and headed up into the northeast section of the course, the traffic was really heavy and Tom and Mark pulled away on the climb as I got stuck behind a half dozen or so.  The deeply rutted berm turns and section coming up made it difficult to pass and I had to be content to see them open up a pretty big gap on me. 

I settled into my rhythm and felt pretty good.  I knew there was a lot of race left and I would wait to see what unfolded.  I was surprised that my bike handling was just as good as ever in spite of not having any time on dirt outside of last weekends frozen dirt Banner loops.  As I mentioned above, the fork was like new and felt wonderful.  My new lighter body weight seemed beneficial on the climbs as I kept it in my big ring (38T) for the entire race with no issues.  The course was really fun as enough new little tweaks and features had been added since last year to make it really fun and IMO - an improvement.  Just little things like some logovers were fixed so you could take them at a higher speed, a couple of corners had received some new love and it had nice flow.  Unfortunately, somebody had been out on portions of the trail with horses which causes a lot of damage and some bumps, but the crew had done a great job whipping the course into shape after the long winter.  Kudos to the THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) for all of their excellent work.

By the middle of lap 2, traffic was not as much of a problem and I was usually able to pass pretty quickly anybody I came up behind.  I was pushing pretty good for this point in the season and saw no sign of Tom and Mark.  I didn't even hear Ryan mention their names when I was in earshot of the finish line.  So that told me they were quite a bit out in front of me.  Everything went pretty well for me and lap 3 was just fine, although I did feel a few twinges in the right leg on this lap as if my right leg was thinking about cramping.  We'd been out nearly 90 minutes and I wasn't really hydrating like I should have been.  Nevertheless, I crossed the line good enough for third place and a couple of minutes later Jerry Hoff came rolling in for 4th.  It was a few more minutes before 5th and beyond crossed the line.

Congrats to Mark Sullivan and Tom Jeffreys who took 1st and 2nd respectively...

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Mark powered in for 1st place just 2 seconds ahead of Tom - so they are riding strong and should make for a nice competitive series this year.  They had me by nearly 4 minutes - which is an eternity in a 90 minute mountain bike race.  I'll have to dig really deep to make up that kind of a gap!!

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I came home with a little bacon to start the year off on a good foot...

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You can see Ryan chatting up the crowd with the microphone over on the right as the old men enjoy their limelight on the podium...

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I had a burger after the race, then I went to use the Kybo and was shocked to see what I thought was blood in my urine!!!!  I freaked out and probably chewed everyone's ear off about it.  Turns out, I had a huge salad with pickled beets in it on Friday night and the "pink" in my urine was from the beets.  No blood, thank goodness.  It was nice chatting with Matt Gersib, Tom Winfield, Jerry Hoff, TJ Fort, Kevin Betters, Andre Rethman, Rob Cook, Katherine Roccasecca, Ryan VanHouweling, and a few others before I crawled in the Element for the 2 hour drive home.

A big thanks to Ryan and Roxy Feagen, Mark Herbst, and the entire crew for doing it right!  It's no wonder that many of us from Iowa enjoy driving over to race in the events that we can in the Psycowpath Series because they are done really well, the courses are great and it's not that far away for those of us in Central Iowa.

I got home, took the dogs for a walk, fed them and made a pizza just in time for Zack and Tara to pull in from the Schubert Club Finals.  We shared our stories, had the pizza and fell fast asleep...

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